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How To Make Your Own Garden Cloches To Protect Young Plants

bell shaped garden cloche
Bell-shaped garden cloche.

Garden cloches are usually bell-shaped pieces of glass, sometimes called bell jars, used to protect seedlings and young plants from cold temperatures and spring snowfalls. The bottomless, solid pieces of glass are placed over tender plants and seedlings, usually overnight when the temperatures dip.

We've been experiencing an unsually warm spring in Chicago the past few days, but today the weather is changing and we may even get some snow. I planted a few seeds that are now coming up and unless I protect them they'll be killed by snow or frosts. I keep an eye out in thrift stores, yard sales and junk shops for cloches, along with other garden junk.  Fortunately, I've been preparing for this moment for the past few years and have a collection of items I can use and plastic soda bottles.

how to make a garden cloche from repurposed glass
Garden cloche from repurposed piece of glass

This is a piece of repurposed glass. It once was part of a mantel clock. I don't have a mantel, but I have plants so I disassembled it and kept the glass for moments like this and now it is a garden cloche.

cheap garden cloche found at thrift store
Cloche found at thrift store
This little cloche/terrarium cover I found in a thrift store. It cost me $1.00

how to make a garden cloche from recycled plastic soda bottle
Garden cloche from recyclable empty soda bottle.

Garden cloches are very expensive and even when I find them for less than a dollar the frugal gardener within me winces at paying any money for them. You can make your own garden cloches to protect young plants and seedlings out of plastic soda bottles, gallons of milk, fast food cups and jars from your kitchen. For cloches made out of plastic items just cut off the bottom. Remove the cap during the day or on sunny days so the plants and seedlings inside don't overheat. I'm partial to making them out of soda bottles because they're clear, unlike the opaque gallons of milk, and from a distance may not be very noticeable. If you have neighbors that would raise a fuss over dozens of empty gallons of milk placed in your garden, use the clear plastic.

Lastly, check the home goods sections of discount stores in your area. Cloches as home accents have been popular for a while and their astronomical prices usually mean they end up being sold fairly cheaply at places like Marshalls and Big Lots.


  1. Hilariously, it never occurred to me to get actual glass cloches to use as cloches. Thanks for the tip (facepalm).

  2. What a neat never think of items to use to cover your plants! I like the cheapest way...neat to see the plastic clear soda jugs! Also...good to know I am not the only cheap gardener out there!!! I probably beat you out in that department though!!! I think I am beyond cheap!!! :)

  3. Love the Cloches, but how about that model! ;) I have a lot of random containers and really want to plant some stuff so I'm good to go! Of course it's going to rain for the next few days so maybe I should wait...

  4. MBT, yes they are! When started reading this post, I have a big dollar sign above my head already LOL. Over here, they are not popular items. It will be a rare chance to see one or even several selling here. Once I saw some in one shop. It was pretty expensive. The used bottle or container as you have suggested is a good replacement. I have never used cloche before. Maybe we do not need this kind of gadget here. I don't know. I just overturn my small plastic pots (light and easy handling) to protect my little plants/seedlings from the sun. And if it rains, water can just drip through the pot's drainage holes ;-)

    Nonetheless, love to see those cute plants in the glass :-D

  5. That is pretty neat. Thanks for the tip. :)

  6. Thanks for sharing the tips to Make Your Own Garden Cloches To Protect Young Plants. It was nice going through your blog as it is informative and helpful.

  7. Excellent, thrifty ideas MBT!

  8. Great Idea about looking at Marshall's for them, I have been looking for them and one place tried getting me to pay close to $300 for just one!

    I personally like the empty plastic bottles. I find you have to bury some of it in order to keep them from blowing away.

  9. What great ideas ~ especially like the plastic soda top. I have been using the garden plant containers (1 gal or so or smaller) and covering my plants with them at night. I take a small bamboo stake and poke through the drainage hole in the bottom to the dirt so the wind will not blow it off. Seems to work well but I like the clear container idea you show better!

  10. Ao fazer uma pesquisa sobre plantas, cheguei até o seu blog. Achei-o muito rico em detalhes e me ajudou bastante. Interessante o aproveitamento de garrafas como mini-estufas, também já utilizei deste mesmo recurso aqui no meu jardim.
    Um grande abraço carioca!

  11. Thanks for commenting everyone.

    I don't think you'd really need them in your area, but if you ever experience some cold temps give them a try.

    Finding my green thumb,
    Ouch! $300??? That's crazy but I bet someone would pay for that price for them.

    And Sow My Garden Grows,
    Your use of the plastic pots with the dowel through them is a really good tip! Thanks for sharing it.

    Ma Zelia,
    Glad you liked it, It has been a long time since I had to use Google translate on a comment :0) Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Wow, MBT, that cloche/terrarium cover is gorgeous--I can't believe it was only $1. I like the pop bottle idea because if one (hypothetically you understand) forgets to remove the cloche, the plant won't get scorched.

  13. Oh, I forgot to say that our local reuse center sells building materials--glass cover for porch lamps also make great cloches. (Also, I once broke a huge garden cloche when I first had gardening clients. I've been a little scared of them ever since.)

  14. Ha ha... that's true :-D

  15. Awesome article and even more great comments. I was reading on a different site about using a cloche for indoor decor. Yet, another site, had a lot about larger cloches for whole gardens. Not sure what I will use yet but what a great lead to follow! Thanks for a great article!

  16. How about buying a pack of large clear, nice looking plastic glasses? If planted in the ground, they would actually look like they are made to be cloches! For the cost of a pack of plastic glasses, you can cover a hundred of plants and it will not have the tacky look of a soda bottle!

  17. My garden has turned into a plastic bottle garden. I refer to it as a bottle garden. We had a lovely hot March but then the temperature plunged so without cloches it would be all doom. France is normally warmer than the British Isles but thus far it' too chilly. I am stockpiling trays of seedlings in my enclosed verandah until it brightens up.

  18. This will be the first year I plant things a little earlier but I have made sure I have lots of plastic bottles and jugs I can use to cover my plants at night. Very excited to see how much more of a harvest I can have this year.

  19. if you take some tin snips or wire cutters to the white ring on the bottle neck, you can make these disappear completely. Thanks for the article about cloches. I am preparing my winter sowing and considered direct sowing some of the seeds and using the soda bottle as a cloche to protect the seeds from spreading and from birds till spring.



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