Introduction: Lightbulb "green"house

Picture of Lightbulb "green"house

The incandescent light bulb is the ultimate symbol of wasted energy. Since I don't use them anymore I wanted to transform them into something green instead of throwing them away.
This project was inspired by an ad I saw in the June 08 edition of Popular Science.


Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

I used:

-An old lightbulb. Best if burned out, but if its going to just sit and collect dust thats fine too.

-Epoxy. Best glue ever!

-7/16" socket. Holds the bulb on

-Some rubber part from my bike.

-Thing that goes between shower head and tiles

-Small plastic cup






-Drill, drill bit

Step 2: Prepare the Lightbulb

Picture of Prepare the Lightbulb

Start by using pliers to pull the bottom contact off of the lightbulb.
Next use the file to break out the glass between the two contacts.
Break out the glass on the inside and use the file to smooth the edges.
Clean the white powder out of the lightbulb. You can do this with a rag, water or a compressor (not recommended).

Step 3: Prepare the Base

Picture of Prepare the Base

Using a drill (press) widen the hole in the bottom of the socket.
Use pliers to widen the hole in the bottom of the lightbulb until the socket fits snugly.
Epoxy the socket to the rubber piece. Let it dry for at least twenty minutes.
Epoxy that to the shower part. Let it dry for another twenty minutes.

Step 4: Add a Plant or Plant Seeds

Picture of Add a Plant or Plant Seeds

This step is self explanatory. Either add a plant or seeds.

Step 5: Use It

Picture of Use It

Now all you have to do is fill the cup with soil and seeds (or small plants), put the base on it, then put the lightbulb over it.
Place it in a well lit window sill and occasionally water it

If you liked this instructable

please rate and vote

If you have any questions feel free to comment.
If you decide to make it please post pictures below.


ruby6680 (author)2016-10-01

how do you water it

Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-14

Hi, I've added your project to the "Unusual Uses for Light-Bulbs" Collection

This is the link If you are interested:

Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-14

Not sure if you know, You need some air holes.
Plants need to breath too

iman28aban made it! (author)2015-02-26

It was really great experience for me. especially considering the fact that I learn it from somebody who's around us, from Iran.

I made it with a tiny herb picked from our vase. Hopefully I could got some pictures of it but unfortunately when I wanted to take more picture, it fell down and broke! It happened since there was nobody home to contribute. I wish I can make another one soon.

thanks by the way and I really appreciate the idea of using a new application for old stuffs.

9156789 (author)2015-02-04

this is a real cool contraption.

lane29 (author)2013-12-14

This should be tried with a big bulb like used in street lamps

Mariska Botha (author)2013-09-04

Looks easy enough, might need some help with the bulb but will be making a whole bulb army of "green" houses...

BunnyRoger (author)2013-09-03

Super awesome! Need to try this...

Amanda Culbert (author)2013-09-02

Super cool!!!!!!!!

MAApleton (author)2013-08-29

I love this idea, thank you, will definitely try this one, and following the comments below, take much care not to brake my bulb.

unshaven joe (author)2010-04-18

When I made mine, I accidentally broke the little glass tube, and it shot off into the depths of my garage.

I also just attempted to break the middle-glass out of an old bulb but the bottom of the bulb also cracked.

Kawthar Xoubi (author)2012-09-27

this is amazing...would definately try to make this <3

Fried Potatoes (author)2012-06-23

I love this!

dr-awkward (author)2008-06-11

radical idea. i made a fancied up version and had fun makin it for the GF

heres a link to the other few photos:

ChessiDo (author)dr-awkward2012-03-28

Wicked Awesome!!!!

manimpz (author)dr-awkward2009-12-28

Pretty Steampunk. I want one of those!

Peanut123 (author)dr-awkward2009-11-27

 that is an awesome greenhouse! make an instructables

ogama8 (author)dr-awkward2009-11-18

WOW!!! Nice job on the steampunk look!

diazsinger (author)dr-awkward2009-04-08

Wow that is very cool looking... Reminds me of something you'd find in an old antique store.

dutchypoodle (author)dr-awkward2008-09-11

I'm sure she was pleased as punch to accept such a one-of-a-kind gift! This plant's got STYLE. LinuxH4x0R, it's a bright green idea. Certainly made me smile, anyway.

LinuxH4x0r (author)dutchypoodle2008-09-11


Labot2001 (author)dr-awkward2008-06-28

Kinda steampunk.

LinuxH4x0r (author)dr-awkward2008-06-26

Looks great! (sorry I took so long to reply I was at my other house in MN without internet)

UQONYX (author)2011-07-12

I cant open up the lightbulb. ANY helP?????

willosac (author)2008-07-26

I have put a stamp with your name on the bottom... I live In South Africa and many of our poor settlements have been badly eroded where people live in informal settlements! I'm talking not a blade of grass for many square kilometers at a time... They are in dire need of the land to be secured so that storms do not wash it away!!! They also need the beauty of nature as cliche as that may sound... So iv got a team together we are making these bulbs and then selling them at markets to buy trees from nurserys at cost prize and once a month go and plant 50 or so trees in these settlements. Its a small drop in the ocean but every little bit counts. We give community leaders responsibility for these trees and do routine checkups to make sure they are thriving!!! So ya thats it mate.. Ant

DrDontDoDis (author)willosac2011-05-17

I know this is a little late to reply, but you should do some research on soil conservation and the response to the 'Dust Bowl' storms that hit the US in the '30's.

I don't know the details of your climate, but the trees you plant should be a) hardy in your climate, b) have a large cross-section to break the wind and any dust storms (evergreens are great), and c) be fast growing.

It sounds like you're all but in a desert. Erosion control techniques should be put into action immediately, farmers should use appropriate cover crops, and crop rotation will be essential when things have stabilized. Soil organisms of all kinds should also be promoted. Fertilization with compost, kitchen scraps and manure will also help greatly.

Nature is designed to be cyclical and to seek a balance. Replacing what you have taken with your natural by-products will complete the system and bring about great improvements.

LinuxH4x0r (author)willosac2008-07-26

Wow, sounds like a good cause! If you want a good try to grow quickly in a dry climate try Chineese Elm. We had one and it grew to 5 or 6 meters in just 5 years! I'd love to see some pictures of the project and of the settlements if you have access to a camera.

porcupinemamma (author)2011-05-14

Brilliant- I don't have a drill press, any idea what tool i could substitute?
Also, any idea where i could purchase the light bulbs? there don't seem to be anymore available around where I live.

kenverzets (author)2011-03-16

im a problem qhat is please

tidje (author)2009-11-20
I just wanted to make a comment for those people who think the plant needs air holes.  I have made several stained glass terrariums that use this same principle.  If you give the plants an airtight house, you create a mini ecosystem and the water that's inside will eventually evaporate to the top, condensate on the glass, and fall back down like rain.  It will keep doing that over and over, and you end up hardly ever having to water (and when you do, I guess you get some new air in).  I have one going that I started years ago.  I water every couple of months because it's not completely airtight and eventually some water does escape by evaporation.  A few plants have died (some work better than others in these situations- and I've also let it get a bit too dry at times- completely forgetting about it since you normally don't have to water it).  I still have a couple of the original plants, though...
Maybe this calls for an instructable.  I've never made one. :)
laxap (author)tidje2009-11-28

Thanks for this interesting info.

Do the plant grow, and does it stop growing ? How does it get CO2 (does it actually need any) ?

tidje (author)laxap2009-11-29
The plants don't really grow much- a little bit, but they have stayed small enough to not outgrow the terrarium.  A few of the little fern babies have doubled or tripled in size over the course of many months, but they were very tiny to begin with.   Of course I used small plants purposely to try to prevent them from growing too much.  They also usually recommend that you don't use fertilizer on plants in a terrarium.  I think that is mostly for the same reason- so that it doesn't outgrow its enclosed environment.
As for the CO2- I don't really know why it isn't a problem.  Maybe the little (tiny) bit of air that might get in where the dome attaches to the base is enough...
I suspect, though, that maybe it's just that the plants don't need that much nor do they really use up as much as we might be imagining.  I think we think of it in a way that we compare it to a person that needs O2 and gives off CO2, and quickly runs out of O2 in a small, enclosed environment.  My guess (and it is only that- a guess) is that their use of CO2, giving off O2, isn't quite the same.  The plants likely don't use as much nor need as much CO2 as we need O2.  on the other hand, maybe my dome is big enough in comparison to the size of the plants to not cause a problem.
Anyone with more knowledge on the subject can feel free to comment and correct me if I'm wrong.  :)   
As long as I'm writing, I'd also like to comment that plants that like a high, constant humidity work best in a terrarium because the terrarium maintains a high humidity in the air.  Ferns have worked well for me... and they usually don't recommend cacti and succulents. 
day-veed (author)tidje2010-10-20

Plants respire and take in O2 ALL day long and give of CO2 (Even when photosynthesising). However, in the presence of sunlight, plants will take in CO2 to photosythesise. They use Sunlight to 'combine' water and C02 to make sugar and give off O2 as a by-product. Thus, the 'stock' of O2 gets replenished while the amount of CO2 is regulated. I hope this was of some help!

ddentrem (author)day-veed2011-01-15

exactly so. Plants have to respire just like animals! People often forget that. Since they make much more oxygen than they use, the whole thing usually gets simplified to "plants generate oxygen"

Fojar (author)tidje2010-01-07

Plants do convert CO2 into O2 during photosynthesis.  The light energy gets stored into sugar.  To get it back out, the plant then respires just like animals, turning the O2 back into CO2.  That's why the plants can live with very little air exchange with the outside world.

afroray (author)2011-01-09

what plant should i use to grow in the light bulb i dont know much about plants any help?

mitra_dios (author)2010-11-10

very nice

KojiHatada (author)2010-08-17

That's very beautiful design ! I think plants in light bulbs give new ideas.

isaactwidale (author)2010-04-06

u can actually just fill the lightbulb with salt then swish it around to get rid off the white stuff :P

astrong0 (author)2010-03-22 i was thinking.... what happens when the mint out grows the container thing or you have to air the plant out so it can live?

Danny09 (author)2009-09-25

Whats the: -Some rubber part from my bike. and the -Thing that goes between shower head and tiles supposed to be?

dagenius (author)Danny092009-11-07

Yes, I know, I would have prefered if the writer of the instructable were more descriptive in this. I think that the point is to encourage people to not realy make something exactly the same, but to make it their own.

So I guess you can just use stuff laying around.

Danny09 (author)dagenius2010-03-20

if you check out the best of instructables vol 1 book it makes more sense the shower thing is called a shower flange and for the rubber part im still not sure

tizart7 (author)2010-02-04

Good job !!!

CraftyEmoChick (author)2009-12-22

what do you do if the plant gets too big for the light bulb? can you just leave it or do you have to replant it?

lucir_bv (author)2009-12-21

Hi! Where is your bike? i need some rubber parts. Can i take any rubber parts?

OceanLady (author)2009-12-07

I want one! They look awesome... I actually did a photoshop thing for a "be green" poster in high school with the same concept. I'll have to bookmark this and come back to it if I ever find myself at my parents' house without my kid... newborns and breaking glass don't mix very well, lol

panni (author)2009-12-05

it`s great!!! but i am going to do for my science proyec??? what exactly  i need to know ?? pleaseee!!!

Shagglepuff (author)2009-11-25

Nice, now just make a lightbulb biosphere!

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