Introduction: Compact Planter With LED Plant Lights

About: ENG 249, 2018. Project 2

Are you interested in growing plants in your home but don't have the space? This Instructable will teach you how you can build your own compact planter complete with LED lights and an easy watering system.

Materials That You Will Need:

Wooden frame:
1x: 1 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft wood board

8x: 2" wood screws

Power drill and drill bit set

Polyurethane or Paint



Hot glue gun

Basin (holds the soil and plants on the base of the frame): Any plastic container to fit within a 6 inch by 1 foot area, does not have to be the full size

Reservoir (holds the water on top of the frame): Any plastic container that fits exactly 6 inches by 1 foot

3 feet of quarter inch tubing (OD - Outer diameter)

Grow Light Strip

12V power cord

Tubing connectors (contains retainer clips)

Wire cutters


Ruler or measuring tape

Soil Seeds

Step 1: Preparing the Wood for the Frame

Cut your 6 inch by 4 foot wooden block into 2 different size pieces
2 pieces will be 12 inches
2 pieces will be 10 inches

Number your wooden blocks as follows
Board A = 12 inches
Board B = 10 inches
Board C = 12 inches
Board D = 10 inches

Step 2: Assembling the Frame

Line Board A and B up to make an butt joint (picture 1)

Pre-drill your two holes to prevent the wood from splitting, then drill 2 screws into Board A. This should create an 'L' shape as shown in the pictures above.

Repeat the same process with Board C and D forming another 'L' shaped piece. Connect your two 'L' shaped pieces together to create your frame and pre-drill and fasten remaining screws.

Step 3: Optional: Coat Frame With Polyurethane

In order to prevent damage to the wood by water, try coating the finished product with a water-proof polyurethane.

Use caution when using polyurethane and be sure to do this step in a well ventilated area such as the outdoors. You should also wear a face mask to prevent inhalation of the fumes.

For more information on safety precautions when using polyurethane, read this article.

Step 4: Cut Tubing and Connect Joint

Cut your tubing to 4, 6, and 8 inches long using sharp scissors or a knife

Attach a 90 degree quick connect to the 4 inch and 6 inch tube

IMPORTANT: Insert retainer clip (blue, U-shaped piece pictured above) into the quick connect to insure a tight seal. This connector only requires ONE retainer clip.

Connect the 6 inch tubing to the other side of the 90 degree quick connect

Step 5: Preparing the Reservoir and Mounting

Drill a 7/32" hole a 1/4" from the bottom of the blue reservoir.

Insert your 4 inch tube into the hole and push through 1/4" of tubing (see photo for reference)
The main idea here is that the hole is one size smaller than the tube size, this is called an interference fit and it will allow for a tight seal. Optionally, you may add glue to ensure a waterproof seal as well

Mount your reservoir on the top of the frame with hot glue so that the 90 degree quick connect is butted up to the corner (see photo)

Hot glue it to the edge to prevent movement

Step 6: Fasten Piping to Frame

Once you attach the reservoir, attach the ball valve to the 6 inch tubing hanging off the top of the frame
Firmly press the tubing into the connector

Be sure to insert the retainer clip into the connector!

Make sure the valve is in the off position, which is horizontal as expressed in the photo

Adding hot glue to the back of the valve and the tubing is recommended

Step 7: Attach Basin to the Frame

Before gluing, make sure that your basin is the correct size and will actually fit into the frame

Add hot glue to the bottom of the basin and hold pressure for about 30 seconds to ensure the glue has enough time to set with the basin in the correct spot.

Step 8: Drill Hole Into Frame and Connect Basin Tubing

Drill a hole into the frame a quarter inch from the bottom and in the center (3 inches from the side)
Be sure to penetrate the plastic basin as well

Connect the 8 inch tube to the ball valve
DON'T FORGET TO INSERT THE RETAINER CLIP. The ball valve must have a retainer clip on both ends.

Feed the tube into the hole you've drilled and pull through roughly to the center of the basin

Glue tube to basin (see photo)

Test your device to make sure your water is flowing properly and your tubes aren't leaking

Step 9: Drill Hole for Lights

Drill a half inch hole into the top corner of the frame to feed the light cable through.

The placing of this hole is not very important, just make sure that you will have enough room to feed the wire through without pulling the light strip off the top of the frame.

You may add hot glue inside the hole to ensure the wire is secure and does not get damaged.

Step 10: Cut and Attach Lights to Frame

Cut your light strip to 10 inches, be careful to cut in the middle of the two copper dots (see first photo)

Use the adhesive in your light strip or hot glue to attach it to the ceiling of the frame (we ended up having to use hot glue, so keep and eye on the lights to make sure they don't fall)

Feed the male end of the connector through the hole drilled in the prior step

Plug in lights to your 12V adapter and turn them on to test

Step 11: Fill Basin With Soil

The kind of soil you choose is up to you but you may want to consider one filled with nutrients for the plants.

Fill the basin with the soil you've chosen

Leave a little room if you are transferring starters. Don't pack down the soil, or the plants may not be able to spread their roots.

Step 12: Transfer Plants Into the Basin

Following the instructions of the seed or starter that you are using, plant them in the dirt reservoir.

Make sure that you don't put too many plants in the planter, otherwise they may not be able to grow.

Step 13: Fill Reservoir With Water

Pour some water into the reservoir on top of the frame, if you have a lid, you may put it on to prevent spills.

Step 14: Have a Good Time Doing Plant Stuff

Enjoy your new herb garden and don't forget to water it!