Published on April 25th, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Greenhouse à la Elk

Materials: SAMLA boxes and lids, drill, hole saw

Description: Basis of this idea was the simple fact, that I needed a bigger mini-greenhouse (windowsill greenhouse) for my growing chili plants, as the former nursery station became too small. But I didn’t find any to buy, so I hacked one (OK, I hacked two as you can see).

For one greenhouse I bought
- 1 SAMLA box, 11 liters, black
- 1 SAMLA box, 22 liters, white
- 2 matching lids (which are identical in size)

Afterwards, I took my drill, attached the hole saw and drilled 12 holes into each lid. The holes are supposed to hold 0,2 liter plastic cups, which the chili plants live in until approximately the middle of May.

Now drill a couple of holes into the big white box for ventilation and that’s it.

Now take the small box, put the matching lid with the holes on top. Then take the second lid and put it on the first one upside down. Then hang the cups into the holes. The big white box now serves as the cover of the greenhouse (hence the ventilation holes).

While building this, I came across the fact that, while all that SAMLA stuff is made of pretty flexible plastics, it still may break if you are not careful enough. I recommend to predrill the centers of the holes with a drill for wood. I also recommend drilling the corner holes last. And don’t even think about trying to drill two lids at once to save time. Even too much drilling speed ain’t good. You know… friction… heat… plastic melts and all that. Take your time and be careful.

Before finishing the greenhouse, I planned to glue the two lids together, but realised, that the lids nearly don’t slip from each other at all when the holes are occupied. Two filled cups put into the holes in opposing corners are already stable enough.

Have fun. My chili planties are doing fine in their new “elkish” home.

See more of the IKEA indoor greenhouse.

~ Christian, Braunschweig, Germany

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

8 Responses to Greenhouse à la Elk

  1. Udoy says:

    Super Idee Christian! Interessant und informativ. Werde mir das auch bauen, leider langt bei mir die Tiefe des Fensterbretts nicht für den SAMLA aus muss da noch was anderes finden.

  2. Fred says:

    Great idea ! It’s very clever ! :-)

  3. TimJ says:

    I’ve made these, using containers from the Dutch HEMA rther than IKEA and they are working perfectly (for exactly the same purpose as Christian’s, growing pepper plants). The beautiful thing is that you water them once and pretty much never need to water them again.

    I used strips of double sided tape around the edges to stick the lids together while drilling the large holes and just left it in place after drilling as it helps stabilize the whole affair.

    Fantastic hack!

  4. Anne says:

    What a funny coincidence, I had just thought about turning SAMLA into a mini greenhouse myself. I’m preparing a related hack, I might link your idea to make it more IKEA compatible, because I use greenhouses from another manufacturer.

  5. Anonymous says:

    That grade of soft plastic shaves more easily with an X-Acto knife than with a drill. Cut close to the line, then pare to final size with light cuts, always cutting away from body parts.

  6. Beate says:

    Hallo Christian, kleiner Tipp, ich habe im Baumarkt Toom für 4,99 € Schalen mit durchsichtigem Deckel erstanden, die einen Belüftungsschieber im Deckel haben. Da passen auch mal andere Töpfe rein, oder die Deckel nehme ich auch im Freien, um die Tomaten vor Kälteeinbruch in der Nacht zu schützen.
    Trotzdem super Idee. Schick mir mal eine Planze, ich schick dir Tomaten, Gurken, Salat!! LOL Gruß, Beate

  7. Anonymous says:

    very clever!

  8. Juan Carlos says:

    Great idea, well done.

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