How to upcycle a mid-century cabinet into an indoor plant nursery

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If you’re a big fan of house plants like me, here’s a quick and easy DIY plant nursery unit that you can make to keep all your cuttings, off-shoots and baby plants safe and cosy while they grow. You can choose a cabinet to suit the style of your home, and it looks pretty darn cool too! Here’s how to do it…

I’ve become one of those people. I’ve got indoor plants on every surface and they’re actually having babies of their own. I’ve even swapped plant cuttings with friends in order to grow my collection. Yes, I’m an indoor plant enthusiast and I don’t care who knows it!

It all started when my husband and I bought a lovely trailing Pothos plant on our 15th wedding anniversary. It was reduced to clear at Urban Jungle because it was bursting out of its pot – it had literally cracked the plastic hanging planter open. The pretty heart-shaped leaves were just too much of a ‘sign’, considering it was our anniversary, so we had to rescue it.

We planted it into a bigger pot and gave it a good feed. Little did we know that it would take over our entire Ladderax shelving unit within a couple of months. AND it led to a new obsession with house plants. A few cacti appeared in my office, a macrame hanger that I bought from local maker She Loves Macrame came ready-planted with a spider plant, and we couldn’t resist an on-trend snake plant when we spotted one in the shops.

That was just the start of our collection and now we’ve got countless live indoor plants in our home including succulents, cacti, and unusual ferns that love our steamy bathroom. And, like I said, may of them are multiplying so we’ve been potting on the off-shoots to create some new plants. I therefore thought it would be a good idea to DIY some kind of indoor plant nursery, which is how this project came about.

I’ve reused this old mid-century cabinet many times over the years. We were given it by a friend when they were clearing out their house and it’s been a bookcase, a shoe storage unit and most recently a cocktail cabinet. We’ve since moved our bar supplies into our G-Plan Liquor Locker so it was moved outside and we kept our wellies and messy stuff in it.

But when the idea of a mini plant nursery pinged into my head, I knew that the old cabinet would be perfect for that. The glass doors might even have a bit of a greenhouse effect in a sunny room – just make sure it’s not in full sun as extreme heat wouldn’t be great for your plants!

This was an easy upcycle – we just removed the base / legs of the unit and temporarily took off the doors. As you can see, the shelves are in pretty bad condition anyway, so I wasn’t worried about using the unit for displaying my plants (and the mess that comes with them!)

I simply added some leftover tiles from our bathroom to protect the shelves from water, and then I cut out pieces of cardboard to sit on top of the tiles. This would act as a capillary mat (like you might use in a green house) and soak up any moisture from the base of the plant pots. Then I filled the cabinet with my cultivated plants and popped the doors back on.

It’s not only a great place to grow on baby plants, it also looks really good as a decor piece too – perhaps in a conservatory or dining room. Plus, the doors keep growing plants away from pets – to allow the plants to grow strong and also to keep your pets safely away from anything they shouldn’t be eating. By the way, the little glass cactus on top of the unit was made by local crafter Sea Green Glass Art.

Let me know in the comments below if you have a go at upcycling a unit to house your indoor plants – and I’d love to see your DIY projects so please do tag me in your photos on Instagram @cassiefairy. Best of luck with becoming a crazy-plant-lady like me haha!


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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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