Technically, Wong notes, “You can plant anything in these, depending on the tech you want to use to recreate the ideal environmental conditions.” However, the easiest plants to grow inside a glass container are “warm-loving tropical species with a low requirement for ventilation, light, and winter rest,” he says.
Edible plants like herbs and leafy vegetables also do well in indoor greenhouses, however Wong contends that harvests may be low unless grow lights are cranked up to maximum levels. If you want to go the edible route, Halleck recommends focusing on “dwarf” or “miniature” edible herbs and vegetables like the Micro Tom tomato or Boxwood basil. These smaller varieties are “much easier to grow indoors and won’t require as much intense light as their larger counterparts,” she notes.
Do I need a fancy tech setup in my mini greenhouse?
You can get pretty high tech in mini indoor gardens—from grow lights and hygrometers to automatic humidifiers and electric water pumps—but you may not need to. Get to know your plants. If they require a lot of natural light (in which case, just positioning them near a windowsill will not suffice), you’ll need to invest in grow lights. Similarly, if your plants require a high humidity level, you may need to purchase a humidifier. “The beauty of having an entirely artificial setup, means—much like a movie set—you can use lights and fogging systems to recreate any climate and vibe,” says Wong.
Grow lights are by far the most common technical addition in indoor greenhouses, and are necessary to grow most edible crops indoors, as well as many succulents, cacti, and blooming houseplants. Halleck says buying specific grow-light bulbs isn’t always necessary. “LED grow lights have come a long way in the last few years, and so most home growers can use LEDs for their indoor gardener needs,” says Halleck. However, she cautions the range in LED bulb output and quality is quite large. “If you’re growing a few lower light tropical plants, you may only need to add a couple of 40 watt LED grow lights. If you’re trying to grow tomatoes indoors, you’ll typically need higher-powered grow lights.”
Are indoor greenhouses worth it?
Aside from the reasons listed above, these small structures allow for creativity and design-based gardening. Use this small landscape to create a magical world among your houseplants. Wong says, “The real aim is to create a visually stunning scheme on a tiny scale.”
He explains how “Asian designers have taken this idea—first developed in Victorian Britain, but long since abandoned—and totally run with it.” One example he gives is the Vietnamese practice Hòn non bộ. Here classical Chinese landscape paintings inspire miniature mountain scenes made from rocks, bonsai, moss, and running water. In Indonesia, he says, gardeners create dioramas and stylized vignettes of jungle scenes: “a waterfall, a forest clearing, a lost grotto, with enormous pieces of gnarled driftwood, giant tree ferns and trailing jungle vines.” In Singapore and Hong Kong people construct “paludariums,” which are half aquarium, half terrarium, so that they can grow both above and below the waterline. Play around and consider setting your own scene inside a mini greenhouse.