These darling DIY fairy greenhouses are egg carton seed starters kids can plant, decorate, tend, and watch grow! They’re a wonderful late winter or early spring indoor gardening activity for children – especially if you live in a colder climate and just *can’t wait* to dig your hands in a bit of dirt.
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Back when I was a mini Montessori kid, there was no greater responsibility than being tasked with taking care of the small potted plants that sat on our classroom windowsills. I remember taking great care to poke around the dirt for any fallen leaves, slow-ly pouring water over the top to give them a little drink, and long quiet minutes of staring – just observing the magic of a changing plant.
Inspired by those calm morning plant care sessions (and some seed packets the Easter bunny left in a basket) I put together this little twist on conventional egg carton seed starters. Looking for a way to keep our seeds nice and warm, I popped them into an upside-down plastic berry container – and just like that, our idea for miniature fairy greenhouses was born.
Beyond the crafting of their own little mini-greenhouses, these homemade seed starters encourage kids to repurpose supplies and take on the task of maintaining their own tiny plants. So while they’re growing a garden, you’ll be growing an engaged, responsible steward of the future who’s excited to investigate and observe the simple wonders of nature. Hey, that’s a win, win in my book.
For more ideas that will get little ones excited to plant, visit our big collection of over 50 spring gardening activities for kids.
To make your own DIY fairy greenhouse egg carton seed starter, you’ll need:
- Seed packets (flowers, herbs, or vegetables – look for native plants!)
- Clear plastic produce packaging
- An egg carton
- Seed starter soil mix (like this)
- Decorative art and craft supplies
- A spray bottle
- DIY peg doll fairies (with free printable fairy wing and hat templates)
How to Make a Fairy Greenhouse Egg Carton Seed Starter – DIY Instructions:
Bring fairy magic to life with kids & egg carton seed starters! Discover our easy-to-follow step-by-step tutorial to create a whimsical, eco-friendly garden project.
Gather the simple supplies to make your fairy greenhouses.
To make our own fairy greenhouses, we used a paper egg carton and plastic clamshell produce container, but you can use what you have! You can substitute a foam egg carton for paper (just make sure you don’t plant the cups in the ground once plants have grown – the foam won’t decompose). Cardboard tubes or mini paper cups can also be used for planting.
And any container that’s large enough to cover your seedlings at night works as well. You’ll just want to make sure you take it off from time to time if you notice a lot of condensation, as a bit of fresh air will keep the egg carton cups from developing mold from an excess of moisture.
Add color to your egg carton with watercolors (optional).
We wanted to add a little whimsy to our fairy greenhouses, so we painted the egg carton cup “planters” with watercolors. You can skip this step if you prefer, but it’s an earth-friendly way to add color to your miniature gardens (it will take a while for any hints of green to show up!)
Fill the egg carton cups with potting soil and add seeds.
Fill your egg carton cups about three-quarters of the way full with seed starter soil, then sprinkle in your seeds and push them down into the soil. Check the directions on your seed packet to see how far apart the seeds should be, and how deep you should push them into the soil.
Once finished with the planting, give your seeds a fairy-sized drink of water! A spray bottle is a great way for kids to keep them wet without overwatering them.
Decorate your mini greenhouse.
Now it’s time to turn these seed starters into a proper miniature greenhouse. Open up your plastic carton and flip it over so the shallow lid is sitting on the surface. Set your egg carton on the lid, then consult with your fairy about what they would like added to their greenhouse.
We made a mini bunting out of baker’s twine and scrap fabric, and fairy-sized garden markers, and surrounded our greenhouse with mini cardboard evergreens, an egg carton mushroom and flowers, and a few stones and twigs.
Cover, water daily, and watch for seedling growth.
Once finished with the decoration, you can pull the top of the berry container down over your planted egg carton. This will keep your seeds nice and warm, while allowing for a bit of fresh air to make sure it doesn’t get too damp in your mini greenhouse.
Check on your fairy greenhouse every day, giving each egg carton cup a bit of water, then re-cover while you wait for your first signs of growth.
Once you start seeing good growth, make sure your mini greenhouses are sitting in a nice sunny spot. As soon as your seedlings are about two inches tall and have developed a set or two of leaves, you can easily transplant the sprouted seedlings into a pot or outdoor garden by cutting apart your egg carton cups and planting them right in the dirt. To help the roots along, you may want to cut a small hole in the bottom of each cup.
I just adore how these little greenhouses turned out! They’ve added a bright spot of cheerful color to the windowsill while we wait for signs of spring outside.
You can grab more ideas for tiny decorations (along with a whole set of mindfulness activities) from our calming mini peace gardens post. These charming DIY mini greenhouses make a wonderful (living!) addition to a small-world play setup too.
Five Tips for Successful Egg Carton Seed Starters with Kids
Half of the fun of our fairy greenhouses is waiting to see signs of green life emerging from the dirt, so here are a few simple seed-starting tips to help guarantee the expected results!
1. Choose easy, reliable seeds.
Some seeds (like the delphinium we planted) require some extra steps when planting indoors, and are fairly finicky. Choosing resilient fast-growing seeds (at least for the first time around) helps to ensure your kids see the fruits of their labor. Lettuce, chives, basil, radishes, beans, peppers, sunflowers, cosmos. nasturtiums, petunias, and zinnia are all great choices for easy indoor planting.
2. Make your egg carton seed starters on the ground.
Keeping things at a kid’s-eye level is an important part of the learning and doing the process. I like to take projects like this right out to a sunny spot in the backyard. Gather your supplies, pop down a beach towel and maybe a big tray to create a flat, stable surface, and enjoy some relaxing time sitting in the sun planting together. In the winter months, I do the same thing on the basement floor.
3. Keep a mini greenhouse daily journal.
Keep your kids engaged in the process by building plant care into your routine. Some kids may appreciate a printed list of daily seed checks to tick off, while others might prefer keeping a journal of their daily observations. Have the kids check on their seed starters every day to see how they’re growing. It’s like a mini-adventure to find those first sprouts!
4. Discuss plant life cycles.
A basic overview of plant life cycles will help your kids understand the process and develop realistic expectations. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach the kiddos that good things take time and that nature often requires patience. Keep those seed starters watered, and soon enough, you’ll all be rewarded with cute lil’ sprouts to transplant into the garden.
5. Make your seed starters using a variety of seeds.
The more seeds you start, the more opportunities for success! And don’t forget to celebrate the milestones! When those seedlings grow their first set of true leaves or are ready to transplant, have a mini celebration. It’s a great way to get kids excited about gardening and taking care of their plants.
Kids’ Egg Carton Seed Starter FAQs
Are all types of egg cartons suitable for starting seeds?
You can use various types of egg cartons, including paper, plastic, and styrofoam, to start seeds. However, paper egg cartons are the most eco-friendly option.
What kinds of seeds grow well in egg cartons?
Many seeds can be started in egg cartons, but some popular choices include tomatoes, peppers, and herbs.
For classroom germination projects, try fast-sprouting seeds like beans, peas, or radishes.
Will the roots grow through the egg carton material?
Roots may grow through paper egg cartons, but you should transplant seedlings to a larger container or garden bed before they become root-bound.
When is the best time to start seeds in egg cartons?
If you’re growing something you’ll be transplanting to an outdoor space, February and March are typically the best months to start seeds in egg cartons, but it depends on your local climate and the specific plants you’re growing.
Seed packets will typically indicate how long germination will take, along with the best time for transplanting according to your growing zone.
Do I need special soil for starting seeds in egg cartons?
While you can use regular dirt or potting soil, using a seed starting mix is recommended for better results and healthier seedlings.
I have to tell you, this is a rule I broke because I had a bit of leftover potting soil I wanted to use up, and it worked just fine. If you want the best chance of good results though, I’d go with a seed starter soil mix.
Are there any alternatives to using egg cartons for seed starting?
Yes, some egg carton alternatives include cardboard tubes, newspaper boxes, small paper cups, and paper condiment cups.
More easy gardening crafts and activities for kids
For more enchanting gardening crafts, take a peek at our miniature leprechaun garden DIY, or try growing your own unicorns…!
More kids fairy craft ideas
If you’re looking for more fairy fun, I recommend making your own set of woodland fairy peg dolls, building a cardboard toadstool gnome home, or grabbing some clippings from the garden for a sensory-filled fairy forest sensory play activity.