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It’s spring, almost summer, and that means it’s plant season. If you’ve managed to keep your indoor potted plants alive all winter long — congrats. Some of us weren’t that lucky. Thankfully, it’s officially the season when outdoor growing becomes much more of a possibility, and all the sunshine is just waiting to help some plants thrive. It’s time to get your vegetable seeds ready to sprout, purchase some new indoor and outdoor plants, grab your favorite fertilizer, some gardening gloves, a nice set of gardening tools and get to work. Whether you’re looking to plant produce you can snack on a few months from now or prefer a nice patch of orchids, succulents and herbs, there are ways to jumpstart your plants’ development. One of the best ways is to use a greenhouse.
How Do Greenhouses Work?
Greenhouses make it easier for all plants to thrive in any climate by regulating temperature and creating a warmer environment where there perhaps isn’t one. This means you can grow plants that aren’t native to your area or typically don’t like the weather your hometown serves up — major win. All plants need some combo of warm temperatures, air, light, nutrients and water to thrive, greenhouses take care of the temperature and light so you can focus on the rest.
Greenhouses are typically made of translucent material like clear plastic or glass that lets light in so your plants get maximum photosynthesis opportunity. Once the light comes in, it’s absorbed by the plants and converted into infrared energy which has a slightly different shape or “wavelength.” This change makes it difficult for it to escape the greenhouse’s walls again, thus trapping it and warming the place up. If you’ve ever winced getting into your car that’s been sitting in the sun for a few hours, it’s a similar process taking place. It’s also the same reason why our planet’s warm-up is caused by something referred to as the “greenhouse effect” — it’s the same thing except it’s the earth’s atmosphere instead of greenhouse walls.
Despite this process being bad news for the planet at large, inside greenhouses it creates an excellent environment for plants to grow. The warmer temperatures speed up your plant’s ability to absorb fertilizer, nutrients in the soil and water as well.
What to Know Before Buying a Greenhouse
If you live in an area that gets a ton of sun and gets colder at night, a greenhouse is an excellent option for taking care of your plants’ temperature regulation.
The flooring for your greenhouse is important to consider, as you want a material that slowly heats up and can hold onto heat for a long time. Brick and stone both do this very well, as they’re highly dense materials. They’ll take more energy to heat up during the day, but they’ll also hold the heat inside your greenhouse much longer after the sun goes down.
While greenhouses provide excellent light and warmth, you’ll still need to tend to your plants’ other needs so they don’t fry if it’s super warm outside, or dry out. You’ll want to make sure there’s plenty of ventilation on warmer days and control moisture levels as well. You can use a handy tool called a moisture meter to make sure your plants are adequately hydrated.
1. Home-Complete Walk-In Greenhouse
This greenhouse is an excellent value for the price, and comes with eight durable shelves you can store trays and potted plants on. It’s great for indoor and outdoor use, and the clear PVC exterior is durable so pests and pets will stay out. No tools are required for the assembly, all you’ve got to do is follow the instructions and connect the rods together. It includes ropes and anchors for stability, and each shelf comes with zip ties attached as well to prevent anything from tipping over. You can use it in all seasons and use it to grow flowers, vegetables, herbs and more.
2. TOOCA Mini Greenhouse
This greenhouse is a bit narrower, so it’s great for smaller backyards or even a balcony belonging to a plant enthusiast. The clear PVC cover creates the ideal growing environment for younger plants germinating. The iron frame is sturdy and has a spray paint rust prevention process that’ll keep it from rusting over. It’s got four shelves with a large capacity and a roll-up zippered door that’s easy to open and close. It’s quick to assemble and also very portable, so you can easily move it around your garden depending on the levels of sunshine.
3. Harmony Polycarbonate Greenhouse
If you’re looking for something a little less tent-like and a little more permanent for your backyard, this 6 ft. x 4ft. greenhouse has a sturdy design and is a great value for the price. It’s more expensive, but designed to last for years and years in your backyard as more of a permanent fixture. It’s got a powder-coated frame with virtually unbreakable polycarbonate panels connecting them. The panels are Slide N’ Lock, so they’re easy to open and shut, and the kit comes with all hardware included so you’re ready to build. The frame is rust and corrosion-resistant and the panels are non-yellowing and 100% UV protected.
4. SV SCOOL VALUE Outdoor Portable Greenhouse
EASY TO SET UP
This mini greenhouse is both portable and very easy to assemble using just a few plastic connectors and pipes. It’s got a strong structure with two heavy weight-bearing shelves as well as a PE material cover that’s non-toxic and odorless. The polyethylene is great at resisting the effects of low temperatures, keeping thermal heat inside and staying strong in the face of storms. It’s also got good chemical stability and can withstand a fair amount of acid and alkali erosion. The front door is zippered and easy to roll up for extra air circulation, and the kit includes anchors to keep your house from flying away.
5. Spring Gardener Gable Greenhouse
This greenhouse is designed as a tent structure without any included shelves, which makes it super portable and easy to move around to different spots within your garden. You can place it directly over your garden to jumpstart your plants’ growth. It’s got a sturdy, rust-resistant frame and UV-protected translucent fabric. You can roll-up the windows across the roof for cross ventilation and climate control, and they’re both equipped with insect netting that make it easy to control pests.
6. Pure Garden Store 4-Tier Greenhouse
BEST FOR POTTED PLANTS
If you’ve got potted plants that need help growing and are starved of sun after a long winter, throw them in this setup. This greenhouse has four tiers of shelves for all different plant shapes and sizes. The zippered PVC cover keeps it warm and toasty inside, and it’s got a rust-resistant frame that’s built to withstand the weight of both large and small potted plants. The door zips open and closed easily and can be tied so it’s out of the way of your plants entirely.
7. EAGLE PEAK Portable Walk-In Greenhouse
This pop-up greenhouse is made for convenience, like many of them, and requires no tools to set it up right out of the box. The frame comes pre-assembled, making it more convenient to transport and store after taking it down at the end of the season. It can be used indoors and outdoors, and has a super sturdy steel frame so your plants are protected. It’s got a steel-ceiling roof that’s super durable against difficult weather conditions, and with 6’x8′ of floor space inside you’ve got plenty of room for shelves.
8. Ohuhu Large Walk-In Greenhouse
This walk-in tunnel design makes for a great greenhouse with tons of coverage, and it’s made with a rustproof, high-grade tube frame built to withstand weather of all kinds. It’s got a simple design that gives plants plenty of room to grow and thrive and creates a warm humid environment inside. The doors are double-zippered so warmth stays in as much as possible, and it’s got six different insect-proof, roll-up windows that give you even more control over the temperature inside. It’s available in a large and even larger size, so it’s really designed for those with larger backyard spaces and more ambitious plant-growing goals.
9. Haxnicks Sunbubble Greenhouse
BEST DOME DESIGN
This sunbubble greenhouse has a big dome design with plenty of space inside. It’s 9 ft. W x 9ft. D, and is super easy to set up, take down and store as well. It’s made from flexible fiberglass rods and UV-stabilized PVC. It’s designed to warm up super quickly, as its curved shape helps the surface stay at 90° towards the direction of the sun all day long. This way, you get minimum reflection and maximum light for your plants, a perk of the unique shape.
It’s got eight different adjustable vents so you can change the temperature whenever you’d like, and the strong zippered doorway allows you to enter and exit whenever you’d like while also keeping pests away.
10. Little Cottage Company Colonial Gable Greenhouse
Alright, so this probably isn’t within the budget of most home gardeners just looking to grow their own herbs but I figured I’d throw it in here anyway just in case. This Little Cottage Company knows how to build an adorable greenhouse that comes pre-assembled and ready to paint. It includes three shelves inside, a door, a floor and elements for ventilation as well. It’s got three walls of windows and a weather-resistant finish that helps it withstand all sorts of conditions all year round. It’s got wall and window vents for airflow and the colonial style makes it much more attractive than your standard tent-style greenhouse.