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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.
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 fairy tale greenhouses, these 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.
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
- Potting soil
- 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:
- Gather up 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 potting 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.
Now it’s time to turn these seed starters into a proper fairy 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, some 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 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 greenhouse.
Check on your little greenhouse every day, giving each egg carton cup a bit of water, then re-covering 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. Once 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 fairy 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 mini-greenhouses make a wonderful (living!) addition to a small world play setup too.
Tips for Successful Seed Starting 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!
- 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.
- WORK 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.
- KEEP A JOURNAL OR DAILY CHECKLIST. 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.
- DISCUSS PLANT LIFE CYCLES. A basic overview of plant life cycles will help your kids understand the process and develop realistic expectations.
- START BY TRYING OUT A VARIETY OF SEEDS. The more seeds you start, the more opportunities for success!
For more ideas that will get little ones excited to dig in the dirt, visit our big collection of over 50 spring gardening activities for kids.
Or maybe you’re looking for more fairy fun, in which case 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 fairy forest sensory play activity.