By Shelley Wigglesworth,’s Garden Blogger

A  garden  cloche  is  basically  a  scaled-down  greenhouse  used  to protect young plants against the elements. First designed and used in the 17th century, cloches are still popular today. Using  an  outdoor  garden  cloche  throughout  the  spring  is  an effective way to protect small plants from unpredictable weather
while getting a jump-start on the growing season. Using them again in the fall can extend the life of your garden.

The   bell-shaped   design   of   the   cloche efficiently reflects and distributes light and allows the heat to surround plants for longer periods  of  time,  thus  maximizing  ideal growing conditions. The garden cloche also envelops the plant with moisture, reducing the need for frequent watering.Garden  cloches  act  as  incubators  for  new sprouts  and  tender  seedlings,  protecting baby plants from harsh temperatures, frost, strong wind, torrential rain, and woodland animals who love to munch on tender new greens.

When  using  a  cloche  for  gardening,  it’s important   to   prevent   the   plant   from overheating.  It is best to use a cloche in the spring and fall only, when temperatures are not too hot. When cloches are used in the heat of the summer, there’s the risk of too much  light  and  heat  scorching—or  worse killing—the plants enclosed in the dome. Today,  cloches  are  making  a  comeback  in the gardening community.  Simple cloches can be made easily by either placing a large mouth  vase  over  tiny  plants  or  by  using recycled clear plastic bottles as a glass cloche substitute (see directions below). Houseplants best suited for cloche growing
are   Baby   Tears,   African   Violets   and Begonias. Any outdoor vegetable seedlings will benefit from the use of a cloche early on to get them established.

Instructions to make a garden cloche from recycled plastic bottles:

  1. Save large clear plastic water and soft drink containers with caps.
  2. Rinse the empty containers thoroughly and allow to air dry.
  3. Cut the bottom portion of the container off with sharp scissors allowing for adequate height at the top of the bottle.
  4. Re-cap the bottle top.
  5. Place the bell shaped top over seedlings.


Shelley  Fleming-Wigglesworth  is  a  certified  Maine  Master  Gardener  and  an  award-winning 
newspaper columnist from Kennebunk, Maine.  Her blog, “Gardening in New England,” appears