Paths to Success in the First Hobby Greenhouse

Authored by: James W. Brown

You’ve decided to take the plunge and purchase a hobby greenhouse. Once you’ve received and constructed it, it’s time to get it ready for plants and for making decisions on what you want to grow. It is likely that your list of plants to be grown and things to be done in the greenhouse can be unrealistically long. The information here is intended to help you take a realistic approach. There are many variables in what is realistic. These include the background and experience of the individual grower, the available time they have and what they expect from the project. The following guidelines and suggestions may help the new grower set realistic goals and expectations, which are more likely to result in a satisfying growing experience.

What is to Be Grown?

Once you have your greenhouse ready to provide the needed environment for the plants, the tendency is to overstock the greenhouse. This leads to tough discard decisions when the realization strikes that the greenhouse cannot hold every plant that has been produced. Young plants take up less room than they will need when they get older. If the greenhouse is filled with young plants, it will not be big enough for the plants when they get just a few weeks older.

Determine or find out the space needs of the plants when they reach the growth stage you expect to grow them to in the greenhouse. Calculate the greenhouse space you intend to allocate to that type of plant. Then determine how many of those specific plants you can grow in that space. You may find that you have some decisions to make at this point. Adjusting expectations, however, is usually less painful than disposing of plants that can no longer be accommodated by the available space in the greenhouse.

Overcrowding plants can lead to situations far worse than simple frustration as growers decide what to cull from the collection of plants. Plants will not grow and produce properly when they lack adequate space. They will compete for space and light, thus stretching and not concentrating their energy on flowering and fruiting. Plants stressed in this way are usually more susceptible to diseases and insect damage because crowded foliage provides an environment that protects them in their early development. Therefore, when you make the list of plants to grow in your hobby greenhouse, be realistic, do your homework on the space needs of each plant, and remember it is best to be conservative and add plants later on rather than eliminating plants in an overcrowded greenhouse.

Seeding Plants

Starting with seeds in the greenhouse is preferable to using cuttings or seedlings from another location. You are much less likely to introduce insect, mite or disease problems to your greenhouse if you start from seeds.

Seed 20 to 30 percent more seeds than the number of plants you want. Not all seeds will germinate all the time and not all the seeds that germinate will produce a strong, vigorous plant. This will mean that you will need to throw away some of the seedlings at transplant time. This is understandably tough for some beginning greenhouse growers. It is, however, the best way to establish a good, healthy plant population in your greenhouse.

What Plants Do You Seed?

The beginning grower needs to make decisions on the kind of plants they want to grow and the number of each of those different plants. Will they be ornamental or edible plants? It’s best to limit the diversity of plants at the beginning. As experience is gained and success is achieved, additional species can be added.

Unfortunately, most new hobby greenhouse growers don’t want to slow down and start at the beginning. They want to immediately achieve their wildest dreams. But those dreams can be best achieved through a series of progressive, successful steps. With a more conservative approach, rewards are much higher and disappointments are few.

Growers who have experience growing plants in the garden or in pots in the south-facing window are in a better position to start with a more demanding type of plant in your greenhouse. Even if you are experienced, moderation the first time around will yield the best results.

Beginning greenhouse growers should consider vegetative plants like lettuce, basil or coleus, which are easy to grow. Bushes and trees should be avoided by beginners. They each take up a lot of space and take a long time to grow. Quicker production and satisfaction can be obtained from faster growing plants.

Tomato, seedless cucumber, eggplant and hot pepper plants are good for the grower with more experience. Bell peppers, which are a little more difficult to manage to good growth, should be left until some experience has been gained with the other fruiting plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and hot peppers.

Production Systems

There are many potential production systems that could be used in the hobby greenhouse. It is not possible to review each one of them individually in this brief article. Once you have decided what plants you want to grow now, and even in the future, you will be in a better position to choose the growing system or systems to obtain for your greenhouse.

Some systems are designed for growing a few plants in a small area. Only small plants should be grown in these systems. Instructions that come with the system may state that you can grow larger plants. Although the larger plants will grow in those systems, they typically will not perform as expected and will produce less than in a system designed for larger plants.

For larger plants like tomatoes and seedless cucumbers, a system that places the plants on or near the floor rather than up on a bench is best. These plants will require a plant support system to keep the stems trained vertically. The plant systems will need to provide adequate plant spacing for the plants to grow and produce adequately.

Limiting yourself to two or three systems will be best for most small hobby greenhouses. The different systems will accommodate different sized plants, allowing for a variety in the greenhouse. By starting with a few growing systems, the hobby grower will not be spread too thin by having to check over a dozen small systems. After all, the entire objective is to grow well and enjoy the experience!


A commercially available general hobby fertilizer will do the job for the beginning grower. Although a commercial greenhouse grower will often use customized recipes based on the plant grown and the water being used, satisfactory results can usually be obtained on the hobby level with commercially available hobby fertilizers.

Hydroponic growers will need a fertilizer designed for hydroponic production. The makers of many fertilizers for soil or other media assume that the media will be contributing some of the fertilizer ingredients required for plant growth. In hydroponic systems, however, all nutrients needed for growth must be supplied in the fertilizer. Commercially available hobby fertilizers will usually have a full array of needed nutrients. Flowering plants have increased requirements of certain nutrients compared to vegetative plants. Some fertilizers have different components in separate containers that are mixed in different ratios for different kinds of plants and for different growth stages.

Growing organically is a little more restrictive but still quite possible to accomplish in the hobby greenhouse, however, it will require a higher level of dedication and time. If the grower is personally using the produce from the greenhouse (i.e. not selling any of it), organic certification is not required. Of course, even if you’re consuming your own produce, you may wish to pursue certification as a personal goal.

Generally, an organic media is going to be a little more complex than the media in the hydroponic system. The media provides some of the nutrition and the basic energy sources and environment for the microbial activity that is an important part of an organic media. Some of the additives used will be for the direct benefit of the microbial activity in the media.

Pest Management

The first and best pest management strategy is to keep pests out of the greenhouse from the beginning. Starting from seed rather than importing started plants or cuttings is one preventative measure that was discussed earlier in this article. Installing insect screening on air intakes will reduce the likelihood of insects and mites getting into the greenhouse.

Outside plants and bushes should be kept away from the greenhouse, since they can harbor unwanted pests. If the grower has an outside garden, the greenhouse work should always be done before going into the garden rather than after. Going into the greenhouse after working in the garden can result in insects or diseases being transported in.

Pets that romp around through the weeds, the garden and the neighbor’s yard should not be allowed into the greenhouse. They can introduce unwanted agents to the greenhouse.

Keep a Step Ahead of Your Plants

In this step-by-step approach to your first hobby greenhouse, one of the most important principles is to keep at least one step ahead of the plants. When plants get ahead of the grower, the grower is no longer in control and a stressful situation (for plant and human alike!) has been allowed to develop. Observing the above suggestions will ensure that the grower remains in control and has a satisfying experience in his first greenhouse.

Growers may consider joining a local garden club where the members have similar interests. A new grower should research the clubs and attend meetings to check them out. Some clubs tend to be highly competitive and made up of long time members who have forgotten what it was like to get started; however, most have many members at varying levels of expertise who can be very helpful and supportive of your efforts.

In closing, being methodical, researching and learning along the way, starting out slowly and gaining knowledge through hands-on experience will make the beginner hobby grower’s path rewarding and fruitful.

Have you installed your greenhouse and are you now thinking about growing in it, except that you have no idea how? Do you imagine harvesting your own homegrown fruits and vegetables, but just don’t know where to start? Are you looking for a beginners guide to greenhouse gardening? Then we got you covered! Trial and error can be an essential ingredient of the learning process and patience is indeed power. With this compiled Greenhouse Gardening for Beginners’ manual, you will discover how to manage a greenhouse efficiently.

We understand that you have numbers of puzzles in mind. Slow down. We can assist you along the way in your journey.

Growing in a greenhouse can be so much fun for beginners and experienced gardeners alike but before you pick the plants you fancy to grow, examine and research what conditions, temperatures, and moisture your plants will require to flourish. This is a crucial step in order to make your plans thrive.

Easy plants for greenhouse starters

So what should you start with? What can you grow in a greenhouse? The answer is simple: Literally everything. But there are some plants that thrive easier than others. Begin with these simple plants and develop your knowledge in order to make your first experiences:

  1. Radishes
  2. Peas
  3. Strawberries
  4. Garlic
  5. Leafy greens like lettuce
  6. Tomatoes
  7. Onions
  8. Potatoes
  9. Sunflowers
  10. Mushrooms

See all easy-to-grow greenhouse plants here!

Our easy-to-master pointers below can assist you in how you can use your greenhouse’s potential at its best. Take advantage of every equipment and accessories and it will give you numerous ways to make use of your greenhouse.

By following this basic Greenhouse Gardening for Beginners Guide, you will be more successful and face fewer difficulties – including those on temperatures, insects, water, food, space, light, air, and soil. If you are fresh to gardening, do not be extremely aggressive. Take it one step at a time. We have prepared simple tips for you to start your green thumb journey.

The Essentials for Beginners – Greenhouse Gardening 101

1. Starting seeds

A greenhouse is an excellent controlled environment, especially when you need to extend the growing season for seasonal plants. You can even grow certain veggies all year round. But again you may still be wondering, “Where do I start?”. Now let’s start with seeds.

Starting seeds normally happens in plain level seed trays, hydroponic trays, or single plug trays. They are prepared depending on their particular needs, for example, they may be immersed overnight, stratified, and then set in trays inside the greenhouse.

To do this, you need to understand the following greenhouse gardening basics for seasonal crops:

  • Be seed smart
  • Get a listing of what you’d wish to plant
  • Invest in containers
  • Get sterile soil to prevent plant diseases and pest infestation
  • Add fertilizer to your soil
  • Always water your plants as recommended for each individual plant
  • Check if your climate can handle these plants
  • How much sunlight are you getting

For beginners, it is important to identify the label and date per seed planted and record entries on the seed packets to recognize the plants easier. Start a little and allot your time to the seeds properly. Review the germination rate on the seed pack to decide how many seeds will provide you with the expected quantity of seedlings.

Hybrid seeds

Hybrid seeds are a healthy option because they are accessible at any garden stores. They are generally identified as F-1 by seed companies. Hybrids crossbreed two similar plants. Here are some more pros and cons of planting hybrid seeds:

  • They are bigger and healthier plants that look more identical.
  • They have greater and more consistent production.
  • You can harvest earlier than expected with improved yields.
  • They are not really influenced by ecological stress, pests, and diseases.
  • They are more expensive compared to other seeds.
  • Seeds from hybrid plants cannot be stored longer.
  • Some assume that the result is not that appetizing.
  • They will not be like their parent plant.

Heirloom seeds

Heirloom seeds are gardeners choice. You simply cannot defeat the flavor of heirloom vegetables. Heirloom types were produced particularly for their awesome flavor.

  • They produce a genetic variety for future cultivation.
  • The seeds are usually adjusted to the local environment.
  • They are passed on for generations.
  • Great for seed swaps.
  • Gardeners can keep the seeds for another year.
  • They are stable.
  • Your plants will not be quite like each other.
  • The cross-pollinated species must be separated.
  • Unusual plants must be removed.
  • It is difficult to buy some varieties in some stores.
  • There is no hybrid vigor.

Seed labels and their meanings

The government expects that every seed set that is offered for sale should be accurately labeled. It helps you buy the best quality that will satisfy your needs.


These seeds are also called true-to-type which will produce a true plant. It means that they will generate plants that are related to their parent plant which is essential for seed conservation.


These seeds came from plants that followed the USDA organic standards of a certain territory or region.


These seeds are not grown with “recombinant DNA technology”. Non-GMO seeds are developed through specific or random pollination.


GMOs cross genes from separate plant kingdoms. Any type of seed can be GMO or open-pollinated, hybrid, and heirloom unless it is approved organic or non-GMO.

Percent germination (germ)

This shows how many seeds will sprout easily.

Hard seed

These seeds that don’t develop readily because of a thick seed coat.

Dormant seed

These seeds don’t sprout readily because it needs a pre-treatment or weathering.

2. Temperature control

Another lesson for greenhouse gardening beginners you must learn revolves around temperature control. Identify precisely what is happening inside your greenhouse.

You already have a head start with controlling the temperature of your garden by just using a greenhouse, however, no matter what you are growing you should consider getting an electric or gas heater to extend your growing season through the winter months or an Evaporative Cooling System to make it through the summer months depending on where you live.

In warmer months, you must keep it cooler in order for plants to survive. Moisture within a greenhouse is nearly always close to the peak due to the volume of greenery. Leaves generally perform a method called transpiration, in which they discharge moisture within the environment from pores in their exteriors.

It is essential to convince your plants that they are in a different climate. Greenhouses are intended to trap the warmth from the sun. If no one modified the temperature, it would keep rising or falling depending on the weather.

Its own environment is uniquely dependent in you. You should ensure that whatever heater/cooler you decide to acquire is economical, to keep your bills down.

Evaporative cooling helps regulate temperature and operates to add moisture back. It works perfectly in environments where the atmosphere is hot and dry similar to places like Arizona, Colorado, and California. Have a look at our evaporative cooler here!

A heating system needs to be effective to sustain the desired temperature throughout daytime and nighttime. A programmable heater with automated timers is required if the temperature normally drops below a particular period. Gardening experts also advise that these heaters are useful for propagating seeds and seedlings in cold weather. You can even opt for propagating heating mats to further cut down on your energy bills. Learn more about the best greenhouse heaters here!

3. Light

There are some things a greenhouse cannot achieve. One of them is making days lasting. Most of your plants require light to flourish because the light is vital for photosynthesis. But not every light is alike. You should analyze the following aspects:

  • The variety of plant being grown
  • The season
  • How much daylight is achievable

Plants react in a different manner to the intensity and span of light. As plants develop and grow the number of leaves, the demand for light rises. Most of the light utilized by plants is in the noticeable light spectrum. Red and blue colored light are the wavelengths of light most widely used in photosynthesis. They are ingredients of white light or sunshine. Numerous man-made light sources have diverse color blends that may or may not suffice the photosynthetic requirements of your plants.

In summer and late spring, your greenhouse should receive adequate light for plant germination and growth. However, if you wish to plant in winter or late autumn, you might want to invest in an additional lighting system.

LED grow lights and fluorescent lamp strips are high output lighting products that will serve you well in this regard. They are a crucial element to photosynthesis and satisfactory plant germination. They are particularly effective because they will cover a larger surface area and output the full spectrum of light your crops require.

Supplementing grow lights is the best alternative if you live in the North and don’t receive several hours of winter sunlight. Application of grow lights to extend the day’s period will be very beneficial. Whether you simply need to provide your specific plant a boost, or you intend to grow right over the winter, this will be an excellent choice.

Fluorescent lighting is commonly used in the greenhouse simply when a weak natural light is possible. It is applied in propagating spaces or germination room that experience no natural light.

Check out our greenhouse grow lights collection here!

4. Watering

There are certain watering systems and techniques depending on your plants but the basic rules of greenhouse gardening for beginners dictate that you understand the water requirements of every plant you intend to grow. Instead of watering your crops using a general timetable, learn what is required to ensure you do not over or under-water your crops.

Signs of inappropriate watering include irregular drying, decreased shoot, and root growth and immature plants with bad quality and shelf life. This can also increase the usage of pesticides and growth controls to compensate for incorrect watering routines.

Not every plant wants the same volume or frequency of water. Over or under-watering can make plant dilemmas. Overwatering doesn’t happen when your plant is given huge amounts of water at a time. It happens when water is done too often before the soil has an opportunity to drain. To stop this, you may install a drip system, which can be utilized to regulate greater or smaller streams of water straight to pots or flat grounds. You can set this kind of water with a timer and drip gauge.

Check each plant for its watering requirements. If the plant appears light then it requires watering and if the compost is dusty and dry it means that water is necessary. Remember that it is the roots that require access to water and not the leaves. Sprinkling the leaves is a misuse of water and may increase the scope of the disease.

Check out our greenhouse watering systems here!

5. Accessories

Apart from these accessories above, many other accessories and supplies will make your work easier. Depending on your budget and commitment, you can add mist systems, fans, tool racks, potting benches, and shelving, along with many other accessories to make your job easier.

One of the greenhouse gardening basics to keep in mind while shopping for these accessories is to consider what your plants need, what you would like to have, and the amount of space your greenhouse provides.

For example, some plants require a slow steady supply of water from a drip irrigation System in order to maximize their growth while other can handle general watering techniques with no adverse effects on their growth.

Here are some basic greenhouse accessories that you may need:

  • Shelvings are excellent space savers for small greenhouses. It is important for maintaining your greenhouse neat and organized. Pick the right shelving for your greenhouse here!
  • Fans can serve various purposes inside an enclosed structure. Small fans help with bug and pest problems by drying up excess dampness or condensation. Larger fans can do everything and more. More particularly, they assist in purifying and even cooling your structure, especially when matched with the suitable ventilation systems. Find the perfect ventilation system here!
  • A simple thermometer, like this one, may be a tiny accessory, yet it is unquestionably one of the most critical when it comes to greenhouse gardening. Some plants thrive best in particular temperatures, a thermometer will help to ensure the precise temperature is reached and if it falls under a safe limit.
  • The demand to regulate the daylight getting into the glass is properly reached by the application of shading. It is particularly used to nourish plants that do not require a lot of light to grow. Check out our shade cloths here!

Pests control for greenhouse starters

A greenhouse setting favors the fast spread of pest populations. The friendly, humid environment and plentiful plants in a greenhouse give an attractive, steady habitat for pest growth. Immediate discovery and analysis of pests are required to execute the appropriate pest control decisions before the issue gets out of hand and you may experience financial loss. You can find all our organic pest control posts here!

These are the top pests to look out for:


Everyone knows aphids. These delicately colored, soft-bodied insects that fill the leaves of your beloved and precious greens. Take a peek at the bottom of the leaves, this is where aphids prefer to gather. Careful pruning and cleanliness are solid habits to stop aphids from damaging your precious plants.


Thrips vary in color from brownish to black. Thrips may leave damage extending from moderate to critical. You may stop these invasions by using screens on vents, examining new supply entering your greenhouse and regulating weeds will help to control thrips.


Bloodworms are elongated, roundworms comparable to fungus gnat larvae in lacking limbs and having a well-defined brown head. The red color is because of the appearance of hemoglobin, just like in human blood. The existence of hemoglobin lets them grow in water with extremely low oxygen content.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails may increase when the moisture is high. These are nocturnal, fleshy, and slimy creatures. Cleanliness is necessary for slug and snail control. make sure your greenhouse is free of plant wastes like uprooted weeds, leaves, used boards, bricks or rocks that give a cooling and moistened hiding spots.

Common greenhouse gardening mistakes

The actual system of nurturing plants in a greenhouse needs a bit of confidence and ability. It may require a little practice beforehand so you won’t get caught up in one of these common greenhouse gardening mistakes. Here are some things to watch out for.


One of the significant mistakes inexperienced gardeners make is skipping to observe their greenhouse temperature on a regular basis. Use a basic thermometer, or buy a digital thermometer that also has the corresponding humidity, which is so crucial to identify for stopping heat loss.


Too much humidity may let mold, mildew, and bugs to run wild in your greenhouse. Too little will make your plants die of thirst. Misting is the best approach to improve humidity.


If your greenhouse has limited or no ventilation, your plants may die. You can utilize roof vents to release the warm air. Or sometimes a small fan may be required to keep sufficient air circulation.


Soil control is important, but it includes some additional challenges. Aside from the basics of combining compost and fertilizer occasionally, think of applying a blended soil mixture when preparing your bases. Do not apply old potting soil, which will carry pests and disease.


Roots from neighboring trees can invade your plants from underground, feeding up nutrients and moisture that is intended for your plants inside your greenhouse. It can also dump leaves or branches all year round. Shades can be a constant obstacle in restricting light as well. To care for your structure and plants, do not place your greenhouse near trees or position it accordingly.

The tips above will get you started on your blooming greenhouse gardening journey and ensure that your investment in a greenhouse is worth all the time, money and effort you put into your greenhouse. Having a greenhouse means any season is a planting season. Savor the excitement of having your homegrown fruits and veggies on your dining table. Have fun gardening all year round!

Do you have any questions or anything to add? Join our discussion by leaving a comment, question, query, or suggestion in the section below.

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PHOTO: iStockphoto/Thinkstockby Kelly Wood January 18, 2016

When I was a little girl, my mother’s glasshouse was an oasis in the seemingly endless, waterlogged, Northwestern winters. The bright lights and heat canceled any chill, and the smells of humidity, soil and new growth were invigorating for the body and soul. It was an escape from the cold reality of winter into the promise of spring.

More recently, a friend of mine purchased property that includes scattered outbuildings and a ramshackle greenhouse. When we were talking recently, she said, “I can’t believe I just said ‘my greenhouse.’ It’s still hard to take in.”

I know how she feels. To have a building dedicated entirely to plant growth still seems decadent, five years after my husband and I constructed our own. But with modern advances in plastics and polymers, having a personal greenhouse is easier and less expensive than ever, and there are plenty of sizes, styles and materials to explore and experiment with, even for urban farmers.

What’s the Big Deal?

Of course, you can grow a garden, raise food and even sell your produce without a greenhouse. I did it for years. It’s like cooking without a whisk, though. It’s infinitely doable, and the same task can be accomplished in other ways. Having a personal greenhouse, however, is a definite game-changer.

Greenhouses nurture plants as well as gardeners. When you have one, you recognize why it is such a useful tool, how much more efficient you can be and how much stronger and healthier your plants can grow. Plus, the ways and styles of using it increase with each passing season. My husband always tells me, when we are working on a project, that having the right tools makes all the difference in the finished product.

Greenhouses also can be used for starting plants, raising young plants to maturity and yield and protecting plants from inhospitable conditions. Depending on which of these activities you anticipate using the structure for, there are many different shapes, sizes and materials that you can choose from to suit your needs to a tee.

The less area you have to site a greenhouse, of course, the more you’ll have to challenge your ingenuity when it comes to selection and use. Look around at your area and determine where you have the most, and best, space to grow in. If you have a yard in which to place a permanent structure, you can pick and choose from wood or metal frameworks with either glass or polycarbonate panels.

It’s ideal if you can situate your greenhouse in a south- or west-facing location that has either full sun or light afternoon shade. If you don’t have optimal sun exposure, you can compensate with grow lights. The more sun a greenhouse is exposed to, though, the warmer it will be able to get without supplemental heating. Plus, real sunlight is the best for plants.

Keep in mind that while full sun is great in the winter, full exposure during the summer can quickly turn a greenhouse into an oven. If you have full-sun exposure during the summer, ensure that your greenhouse will have fans or adequate airflow for ventilation or shades that can be lowered.

If you are planning a walk-in structure, check local building codes in case it will require a permit. All the areas I’ve lived in have a maximum square-footage size for outbuildings for which permits are not required, and those sizes have proved quite generous.

It doesn’t have to be free-standing; you can place a lean-to against the house or a tall, sturdy fence. If you have a shed or other structure, you can alter it to be part-greenhouse. If you don’t have such a structure (or the space for one), there are many options for temporary or short-term structures. These can be large enough to walk into and move around, but they can also be taken down, easily dismantled or folded up, and stored for the seasons when they’re not needed.

Greenhouses give you the ability to vary and choose where to grow. Your options are wide open. I know someone with a large back deck, north facing and windy. Her front yard, facing south, is negligible and on the sidewalk. She has a large, plastic greenhouse that she places over a raised bed on the back deck, and she is able to grow lettuce all season – plus, peas, cilantro and spinach in the spring and fall because of the warmth that the portable walls bring, despite not having much direct sun.

Watch Your Babies Grow

To start plants in a protected environment, a greenhouse can’t be beat. It is possible to start seeds on windowsills or under grow lights in a basement, but the overall warmth and humidity that exist in a greenhouse, combined with accessing all available ambient light, make a greenhouse the optimum space for starting seeds and baby plants. You can start seeds or cuttings in pots or flats with good potting soil and grow them on counters or flat areas for later transplanting. Leave an area of the floor open to bare earth, and use it as a bed inside the structure. Now the house acts as protection for the native soil as well as the plants grown in it. This bed’s soil will be warmer and drier than if it weren’t protected and can be worked and planted sooner than an outside bed.

Sometimes greenhouses are used for the full lifespan of a plant, from seed to seedling to maturity. This protects the plant from pests as a tender seedling, helps keep away critters that predate it as a growing plant, thus weakening it, and contributes a controlled environment to encourage fruiting and ripening. I can get melons from my outside area but usually not until late summer. Even then, they are only grapefruit-size. Last year, I grew peas in the greenhouse that yielded a crop for my community-supported-agriculture members three weeks earlier than my outside vines.

Greenhouse-type structures help stretch the season at the beginning and end, to get things out and up earlier, or extend harvest season longer. Last year we had a horrible summer for growing tomatoes, and I would not have harvested any at all if it hadn’t been for being able to put a full-length, clear-plastic hoop frame over my tomato bed. Even though we didn’t get our first tomatoes until mid-October, I was still able to lengthen the tomatoes’ harvest season when all the other plants in the garden were downed by frost.

Inside The Plant House

Within any standup structure, there is more room to make use of than just the footprint and countertop areas (which are called “benches” in greenhouse-ese). Look around your space and see how much is available above and below the counter height. How strong is the framework? Can you hang things from the roof and rafters? Remember that while plants and pots are not that heavy, soil is – especially when wet. I made a bunk-bed-style rack of salvaged gutters to grow lettuce and spinach. They are spaced far apart enough to not shade one another, and the narrow distance from front to back makes it possible to grow a single row using just the ambient light. You can also put narrow shelves above the wide, main benches, either attaching them to the greenhouse wall or stacking them onto the bench surface.

If the structure is not good for hanging or mounting shelves to, try stacking things from the ground up. Racks or bookshelves, preferably not wooden, make great stands for starting plants, nursing seedlings and storing flats and pots. Low shelves can fit under the benches, or stack on the bench at the back. Fluorescent lights mounted on the underside of each shelf give direct light for plants placed immediately below.

Special quarter- and half-circle tiered racks, sometimes called etageres, can be used. The widest shelf is on the bottom, with each shelf progressively narrowing at higher levels. This maximizes the vertical space without compromising the light exposure to any shelf.

As mentioned previously, keeping an area of exposed soil on the floor of your greenhouse will provide diverse growing opportunities. Greenhouse floors are typically porous, composed of compacted gravel, sand or dirt for drainage and humidity. My husband and I graveled half the floor of our greenhouse, laid a cinder-block path in the middle and edged the dirt on the other side for an in-ground raised bed. My in-ground greenhouse bed has an adjustable bracket counter and shelves above, and in the spring, I plant vining plants in the bed. The counter and shelves are filled with things to transplant out. As the counter gets cleared off and the vines grow, eventually I fold it down against the wall. I use string for a trellis support up the back wall, removing the higher shelves but keeping the brackets there to tie the strings onto.

Gauge the Temperature

Greenhouses can remain unheated; they still protect when cool. But for best growth, supplemental heat makes a difference. I have read examples of people who use their in-ground bed in the greenhouse to heat the structure: When filled with manure and topped with soil, heat is generated as the manure composts, and the soil prevents odor from escaping. Placing growing benches above this medium could direct the heat upward to the growing flats. This can also be accomplished with electric heat mats or a heating coil, and any heat from below makes a huge difference when growing warm-season, heat-loving plants. My husband found a small construction-grade space heater at a pawnshop for $5, and it works well.

Unless you have reliable sunshine for much of the day, every day, you’ll want to get lights for your greenhouse and hang them over where the plants will grow. For much less expense and effort than buying a professional halide or sodium grow light, you can get ordinary two-bulb fluorescent light fixtures at the hardware store and put a couple of “plant and aquarium specific” fluorescent lights in it. One of the benefits of fluorescent is that it doesn’t generate a lot of heat, so it won’t burn the young plants. This is important, because you want to keep fluorescent lights within 4 inches of the top of the growing plants and raise them as the young plants grow upward. This also makes these lights safer for a small-scale greenhouse, especially when constructed of plastic or polycarbonate, since there is a melting danger from close proximity to hot, professional grow lights. (Read “Portable Sunshine” by Bill Bradley in the March/April 2011 issue of Urban Farm to build your own portable light stand. — Ed.)

In any small greenhouse, you’ll need water for the plants, and the smaller and more lightweight the structure, the easier it is to just run a hose underneath the outer walls. My greenhouse water comes from two rain barrels that I’ve plumbed to a tap inside. Although I can’t do sprinklers or any timed watering because there is no pressure, I enjoy watering by hand; it keeps me more attentive to the stages the plants are in and any problems that arise. In some of my stacked growing areas, like the hanging gutters, I can heavily water the top tier and trust the trickle down to take care of the lower levels.

Greenhouses are ideal for plants that like warm or humid climates – especially tropical plants. Tender perennials (those that can’t take frost or a freeze) can be “overwintered” inside the greenhouse and moved back out when the low temperatures depart. I keep my potted lemon and lime trees in the greenhouse during winter; my parents bring in their bougainvillaea and banana palm each year.

Plants that need heat to produce well can thrive in greenhouses. I start my warm-season vegetables inside (tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, okra, ground cherries, squash and melons) and move them outside when natural temperatures stay reliably above 50 degrees Fahrenheit overnight. This gives them a big jump on the growing season.

I even greenhouse-start plants that can handle cooler temperatures, just for the added boost of protected growth. Peas, broccoli, cabbage and greens grow fine in cooler outside weather but are stronger when transplanted with large roots versus the risks of direct outdoor seeding.

With plants that will grow in the greenhouse all season, such as melons, look for varieties that are either self-pollinating (parthenocarpic) or that don’t need a pollinator to produce fruit (peppers, eggplant). I don’t put screens on my opening greenhouse windows; while that is a trap for lots of insects during warm weather, I find it also creates some natural pollination in an otherwise-isolated environment. This pollination is not as reliable as open air, so be sure to pay attention to plants that you grow for yields and maybe play pollinator yourself with a small paintbrush.

A greenhouse can be an indispensable tool for almost any stage of plant growth; it can help you get an earlier start, protect tender plants through the shoulder seasons and extend your growth and harvest farther into the fall than without coverage. It also provides a welcome refuge for antsy urban farmers who just can’t wait to get dirt on their hands without getting frozen or soaked to the bone. Sure, you can get along fine without one, but with so many choices and such a range of affordability, I predict you’ll wonder how and why you ever waited.

This article first appeared in the September/October 2011 issue of Urban Farm.

Just to Be Cloche to You

Small individual greenhouses, called cloches, are placed over single plants as protection from elements or pests. You can place larger structures over a whole bed or part of a bed, or even over the plant in a large pot on your patio that can’t be brought inside in threatening weather. Some years, I put a structure around my citrus trees to protect them; other years, I take them into my greenhouse for protection. The added layer between the outside air and the semihardy or tender plants helps carry them over to survive and thrive for another year.

The Size of Things

The first rule of finding a greenhouse that will suit your needs: Always get more than you think you’ll need. My mother gave me this advice, and I didn’t take it. It ended up that she was right. When the space where you’ll put the greenhouse is empty, you can’t imagine filling it with plants and supplies, but you will. I wish I had twice the size I chose – especially in spring, when every single flat surface is covered with a pot sprouting something. Just the other day, I was lining up flats of tomato transplants along the floor – the last open area – making a mental note to not step too far backward.


  • Shade house;
  • Greenhouse
  • Glasshouse;
  • Hot house;

So what is the difference between all these “houses”?

You may have known shade cloth helps to cover and protect your shade loving plants. However, after doing research online, you have come across different names for this “shade construction” such as shade houses, green houses, glass houses, hot houses, which causes some confusion. Even the writers of some articles are confused. The question needs to be asked “what is the difference” and “which type of “house” is really what I need?”

(Shade house) (Greenhouse)

The real difference only exists between shade houses and greenhouses as glasshouses and hot houses belong to the category of Greenhouse.
Shade houses sometimes look like a green house. Shade houses usually have shade cloth over it. They are used to protect cultivated plants from excessive heat, light or dryness. Different shade cloth may be available in different colours and percentages to protect plants from sun, frost etc. In other words, it provides shelter from the elements, which helps the shade loving plants inside, to have maximum growth. ()
Greenhouse, on the other hand, is opposite to a shade house. A greenhouse is a structure with a glass or plastic roof and frequently glass or plastic walls. Its roof and sides have to allow light to penetrate. The greenhouse heats up because incoming solar radiation from the sun warms plants, soil, and other things inside the building faster than heat can escape the structure. Greenhouses can also protect plants from wind, rain and animals.
Glasshouse is a form of greenhouse. Glass was once the only material suitable for this purpose, so glasshouse and greenhouse were pretty much synonymous.
Hothouse is a heated greenhouse for plants that require an even, relatively warm temperature.

What type of “house” do you really need?

You should understand your purpose of having a “shade house” or “green house”.

Purpose 1: For raise seedlings

In commercial nurseries the stages of plant growth are accommodated in different structures that increasingly expose the seedlings to outdoor conditions. Plants usually start in a glasshouse or a ‘poly-tunnel'(more commonly known) and then to shaded structures and finally to a ‘stand-out’ area in full sun for final ‘hardening off’.

A green house is usually used as raising seedlings and a shade house is used in the second stage. However, with proper management, a shade house can meet the needs of most of these stages if there is a reliable supply of water delivered as a fine mist or spray. With shade houses you can then roll up the sides for hardening off.

Purpose 2: For growing shade loving plants

There is no doubt that a shade house is a right choice.

A shade house can be used to grow plants that love shade such as orchids, ferns, capsicum, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula (rocket), endive, radicchio and some herbs or vegetables such as continental cucumbers, bush beans, climbing beans, tomatoes, strawberries, capsicums and a butternut. The shade cloth on the roof and on the walls can help generate a cooling breeze so that it keeps the pounding sun off your plant’s leaves and helps the surrounding soil retain moisture.

On the other hand, a green house is not suitable for shade-loving plants in the hot summer. The temperature in the green house is even hotter in summer and it will badly damage the plants you are growing.

Purpose 3: For Protection

Both shade houses and green houses protect plants from animals like birds and pets which can destroy plants. Shade houses and greenhouses also protect your plants from frost. But a shade house works better in extreme hot weather and better protects plants that are cold or frost sensitive over winter.

In Summary

Having a good understanding of the difference between shade house, greenhouse, glass house and hothouse helps you do your research when it comes to purchase of a shade structure for your plants that love shade. Knowing why you are looking for such a “house” is more crucial as you won’t waste your time searching for something that is not going to work for you, or waste money on the wrong structure that may harm your plant’s health. Shade loving plants need to be well taken care of in a quality shade structure.

I hope this clarifies the situation and aids you in your research. So what kind of shade structure you are using and why you use them?

(PS. If you want to know more about shade house, why use a shade house and who should use a shade house, please chick here)

Greenhouse vs. Glasshouse

  • Greenhouse

    A greenhouse (also called a glasshouse, or, if with sufficient heating, a hothouse) is a structure with walls and roof made chiefly of transparent material, such as glass, in which plants requiring regulated climatic conditions are grown. These structures range in size from small sheds to industrial-sized buildings. A miniature greenhouse is known as a cold frame. The interior of a greenhouse exposed to sunlight becomes significantly warmer than the external ambient temperature, protecting its contents in cold weather.

    Many commercial glass greenhouses or hothouses are high tech production facilities for vegetables or flowers. The glass greenhouses are filled with equipment including screening installations, heating, cooling, lighting, and may be controlled by a computer to optimize conditions for plant growth. Different techniques are then used to evaluate optimality-degrees and comfort ratio of greenhouse micro-climate (i.e., air temperature, relative humidity and vapor pressure deficit) in order to reduce production risk prior to cultivation of a specific crop.


Enthusiasm is an admirable trait for the beginning greenhouse gardener, but don’t let it overshadow the practical steps you should take to ensure your efforts are successful.

As with any new venture, establishing a strong foundation with careful attention to the smaller details is important.

Though it may take some patience on your part, this not only will this set you up for a positive greenhouse gardening experience, but also you’ll create an environment for your enthusiasm to continue to blossom!

Keep these seven helpful tips in mind as you begin your exciting foray into greenhouse gardening.

1. Get a Thermometer. Maybe the single most important of a piece of equipment you’ll buy, your thermometer will inform when to ventilate, where to shade, when to heat and what area to cool. No beginning greenhouse gardener should be without one!

2. Keep the Greenhouse Neat and Tidy. It might seem like a chore at the time, but always return things to their proper place. You’ll be glad you did when you want space to pot plants and when you need a place to put them. Plus, piles of unused equipment could be inviting to snails and slugs.

3. Determine Your Plants’ Space Needs. Prepare for plant growth by assessing how much room your plants will need at the stage you expect them to reach in the greenhouse. Overcrowding can restrict plant growth as they compete for space and light. This stress can make your plants more susceptible to disease and insect damage.

4. Start with Seeds Rather Than Seedlings or Cuttings. One way to reduce the probability of insect, mite or disease problems is to start with seeds planted in your greenhouse —not seedlings or cuttings from another location. It is recommended to seed more plants than the number you want because not all seeds will germinate, and this can help provide a good, healthy plant selection to begin.

5. Start with Easy-to-Grow Plants. Kicking off your greenhouse growing efforts with plants that are easy to grow will help boost your confidence. Lettuce, basil, and coleus are some ideal vegetative options. Move on next to tomatoes, seedless cucumber, eggplant, and hot pepper plants when you have more experience. Beginners should avoid starting with bushes and trees, as they take up more space and take more time to grow.

6. Take Steps to Keep Pests Away. In addition to using seeds planted or potted inside your greenhouse, install insect screens on air intakes to reduce the introduction of pests. You can also keep outside plants away from your greenhouse, complete any work in your outdoor gardens after your tasks inside your greenhouse are complete, and keep pets out of your greenhouse as any of these could transport insects or diseases inside.

7. Grow Something Greenhouse-Specific. Try your hand at growing something that will only thrive inside a greenhouse, such as tropical flowers or heat-loving vegetables. Not only will this add interest to your gardening efforts, but the success of growing something unique will prove to be exhilarating!

Thinking about investing in a greenhouse or getting ready to start your greenhouse garden? Call us today toll-free at 1-800-531-4769 to talk with one of our representatives or visit our website at to find all the supplies you need to get growing!

The Complete Guide to Starting a Home Greenhouse: What You Need to Know

Editor’s Note: Changes made on November 15, 2017

If you have a green thumb, it doesn’t matter what climate or geographical location you’re in – you’ve looked into building your own greenhouse facility to provide year-round growth and crop production for your family. But ask any experienced gardener or horticulturist and they’ll tell you the same thing: not all greenhouses are made equal. Many first-time greenhouse owners make the simple mistake of rushing toward their nearest big-box home improvement store without doing sufficient research. Depending on your climate, budget, intended usage, and commitment to a robust and functional greenhouse facility, you’ll need to do some extra legwork before you make a decision on a brand-name greenhouse or a DIY structure.


A Brief History of Greenhouses

The earliest known example of food production in a greenhouse-like structure was under the rule of Roman Emperor Tiberius during the 1st century A.D. An ailing Tiberius, instructed by his physicians to eat a daily staple of cucumbers, was perplexed as to why the technologically superior Roman Empire was unable to provide him with a year-round supply of the vegetable.

A specularium was constructed in the capital using stone and thin sheets of mica. Fires outside the stone walls were constantly maintained in order to heat the air inside and a semi-transparent roof was built from the mica to allow sunlight to enter indoors.

Horticulture laid largely dormant for the next 1500 years until the 16th century when Italian scientists were faced with housing and studying exotic, fragile plants brought back by overseas explorers. The concepts and designs spread to the Netherlands, France, and England with varying results. It was only when French botanist Jules Charles built his own greenhouse that the era of modern greenhouses began and a foundation for the rest of the horticulture world was established.

Today, modern greenhouses are built with cutting-edge fabric and steel designs to provide lightweight, energy-efficient performance in a dizzying variety of shapes and sizes. Furthermore, modern greenhouses can be equipped with precise temperature and humidity control units, LED lighting and plug-and-play electrical systems, and custom translucent patterns to maximize available sunlight depending on the user’s region and longitude.


The Benefits of Growing Plants in a Greenhouse

  • Consistency and reliability in quality of produce grown.
  • Extended growing season.
  • Expanded variety of available crops.
  • Protection against animal and insect infestation.
  • Higher nutrient count in carefully-grown produce.
  • Easy-to-control growth environment, soil, and humidity levels.


Should You Build or Buy?

The first step in becoming a greenhouse owner is to decide where you’ll place your structure and how much space you’re willing to dedicate to it. Before you decide whether to build or buy a greenhouse, consider the following:

  • How many different types of plants do I want to grow in my greenhouse? How much space will the plants require?
  • Are there any deciduous trees nearby that can provide shade in the summer and sunlight in the winter?
  • If I place my greenhouse too far from my home, will I be able to take advantage of our existing water and electrical connections?
  • Is the soil suitable for drainage or should I implement a water recycling system?
  • What material will I use for the foundation?
  • Does my area’s climate require special climate control systems or strategies?

Because greenhouses require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day (particularly during the winter), its imperative to orient and place your greenhouse properly to provide maximum exposure to sunlight. In the Northern Hemisphere, orienting your greenhouse from east to west with the largest side facing south with get the most exposure to natural light, but you’ll still want to augment your greenhouse with energy-efficient grow lights.

Ultimately, choosing between an all-in-one greenhouse solution and a structure of your own design depends on your commitment to the project and how interested you are in the nitty-gritty details of your greenhouse system. The more custom and personalized your requirements, the better off you’ll be with a DIY project (if you have the skills and tools necessary to make it a reality). However, if you’re interested in establishing a side business or perhaps becoming a first-time legal cannabis producer, investing in a reliable, high-performance greenhouse from a trusted manufacturer may be the better option.


How to Prepare for Your First Growing Season

Beginning your journey with indoor plant production depends on what plants you’d like to focus on, but as a general rule, first-time greenhouse producers should get their feet wet (perhaps literally) with a few easy, straight forward crops before tackling something more delicate like strawberries or pineapples.

Tomatoes, leafy greens like spinach or lettuce, and root vegetables like carrots and turnips are good places to start. By grouping together plants with similar growth cycles will help you schedule your production and organize your greenhouse going forward.

How Many Seeds Should I Plant?

Expect to plant between 20-30 percent more seeds than you expect to grow. Not all seeds will germinate, nor will each successful seed produce a robust, healthy plant. This will help save you time and energy once the seedlings appear in the soil and need to be transplanted.

If you’re planning to grow plants that require a vertical stem system such as tomatoes, cucumbers, or beans, planting them on a bench or slightly raised platform on the floor will help encourage verticality and provide adequate spacing as they begin to grow.


As far as fertilizers go, many greenhouse owners prefer the organic route, but the difficulties with organic seeds may bring frustrating results during your first attempt. Finding natural fertilizers or composted soil is a good alternative, but if you’re focused on hydroponic growth, you’ll need to augment your plants with a hobby fertilizer to provide the needed nutrients.


Most experienced greenhouse growers recommend against the use of pesticides for indoor growth. A proper greenhouse will protect against outside contamination by pests and diseases, but there are a few steps growers can take to further minimize that risk.

Installing insect screens on air intakes and exhausts can prevent insects and mites from entering the greenhouse, but the common variable in most greenhouses is the grower themselves. Be sure to establish different standards and equipment (included gloves and tools) between any outdoor gardens you may have and those of your greenhouse. Cross contamination by foreign materials can introduce insects and diseases into your greenhouse’s comparatively delicate ecosystem.

Planting in Warm Weather vs. Cold Weather

Despite the perks of indoor greenhouse growth, it can be very costly to produce warm-weather crops during cold periods of the year (and visa versa). The energy costs alone are enough to turn most greenhouse growers away from off-season production, so it’s wise to maintain a plant’s natural growth cycle and respect nature’s design.

Fortunately, both warm and cold-weather crops can be a fun and delicious project for greenhouse growers. During the colder months of December or January, plant heartier vegetables such as beets, leafy greens, chard, spinach, onions, turnips, radishes, and carrots. Beets, carrots, and onions can be transplanted almost year-round, leaving plenty of opportunity for continued growth well through the spring and summer.

When things begin to warm up in March and April, begin planting your more delicate crops. Broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash, peppers, peas, corn, and melons are all ideally grown at temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also be able to follow this planting schedule for annual flowers that may not survive outdoors.

Despite the considerable amount of time, effort, and research, the benefits of growing your own food in a protected greenhouse should be very clear. Self-sufficiency, high-quality produce, and reliable growth year-round are just the beginning – as you learn and grow along with your crops, you’ll be able to expand on your expertise and begin growing more delicate and rare plants to impress your friends, family, and even potential customers for years to come.



Whether you’re a novice gardener, or a farmer looking to extend your growing season, greenhouses can provide the optimal environment for fruits, vegetables, and other plants to thrive. Creating a greenhouse garden means you get to control the air temperature and environment, while shielding your crops from rough weather. This is particularly helpful during the upcoming cooler months as the fall begins to really set in. Here are some greenhouse growing tips that will up your gardening game.

Greenhouse Growing Tips for Beginners

If you’ve just begun your quest to grow the perfect vegetables in your back yard, but you’re not really sure how to begin with a greenhouse, you’ve come to the right place. It’s a great idea to start small and learn the basics.

The GrowIt Backyard Raised Bed Greenhouse is a compact option perfect for a starter greenhouse. This easy-to-assemble raised bed model is made of high-quality steel and comes with a roll-up cover to help with temperature control. The heat-bonded translucent cover is waterproof and UV-treated for ultimate protection from the elements. Now that you’ve chosen the proper model for your backyard, here are a few greenhouse growing tips to get you started:

  • Choose your plants wisely: Before you begin, make sure to figure out which plants do best in your climate. Some areas of the country might benefit from keeping certain crops inside the greenhouse all year, while others are more forgiving. Here’s a guide on what to grow in your greenhouse year-round.
  • Creating the right soil: Good soil is the key to healthy crops. Mother Earth News suggests mixing garden loam and compost, then adding well-aged manure or wood ashes.
  • Summer cleaning: We know how a good summer cleaning can do our homes good. But did you know doing the same for your greenhouse will help get rid of pests?
  • Fall use: Even winter vegetables and hardy plants need a little extra shelter as the fall begins to set in! bring plants into your greenhouse or close the greenhouse vents at nightfall to prevent frost and damage to plants and flowers overnight.

Up Your Greenhouse Game

If you’re ready to bring your backyard gardening game to the next level, investing in a greenhouse with more space and shelving options is a great next step. GrowIt Backyard Greenhouse is a stellar choice. It is easy-to-assemble and comes with screen vents at both ends for great ventilation and temperature control. The translucent fabric allows light in while reducing harmful UV rays that can destroy plants. Other benefits include:

  • Premium powder coat finish that resists chipping and corrosion
  • Shelving on both sides to stage plants
  • Auger anchors included

High Tunnel Greenhouse for Maximum Return

Whether you’re a farmer looking to increase your crop yield, or a hobbyist looking for a larger solution, ShelterLogic’s High Tunnel Greenhouse is the ultimate choice for your year-round growing needs. One of the most important greenhouse growing tips is to customize your greenhouse. This model doesn’t just allow you to choose your own size. In addition, you only have to buy what you need. That means if you only need a frame, you don’t have to shell out cash for the entire greenhouse kit. Here are the bundle options:

  • Greenhouse frame
  • Frame + end panel frame
  • Frame + and cover kit
  • Full greenhouse kit


Must-Have Greenhouse Growing Accessories

There are a couple items you’ll be happy you purchased when it comes to gardening in your greenhouse. One of those items is this automatic shelter vent kit. It automatically opens and closes based on temperature, and reduces humidity inside your greenhouse. It is easy to install, and also screened to keep out insects.

This Pull-Eaze Roll-Up Door Kit will also make your life easier when making trips to and from your greenhouse. It allows you to quickly open the door using a pulley and fits widths up to 14 ft wide with a 12 ft wide door opening.

This ShelterShelf Bracket is also a great way to give yourself more space for anything you need in your greenhouse, whether it be plants or tools you’d like to store for easy access.


With these simple greenhouse growing methods, you can create your ideal environment for your crops during any season. It’s a smart way to ensure you grow better plants that can stand the test of Mother Nature year-round.

Scheduling Greenhouse Crops


Scheduling is an important part of greenhouse crop production. Accurate schedules are required to grow plants to marketable size at the right time of year. Poor scheduling may cause growers to experience having small or non-flowering plants, having overgrown plants at the height of the season or empty benches with several weeks of selling season still ahead. There are many factors that can influence finish timing of bedding plants including the maturity of plugs and liners, growing conditions for the plugs and liners, average day-time temperature, photoperiod, use of plant growth regulators and finish container sizes. Chronological age (calendar age) vs. physiological age of the plant is always a challenge and production decision affect crop timing.

To successfully schedule a crop, a grower has to decide the week of the year that a crop will be marketed, and then work backwards to determine the date of seed sowing or planting (depending on the crop). If seedlings, plugs or liners are purchased, then the dates of delivery and transplanting will need to be determined.

For spring crops, if a grower knows how many packs of each plant species will be grown, the amount of seed or number of plugs that will be needed can be calculated and a seed (plug) order can be compiled.

Many growers schedule their spring crop plant and seed shipments during October to be able to compensate for inevitable backorders and potential crop failure announcements. A spreadsheet will help to maintain records and keep things organized from year to year. In the spread sheet record the following information for each cultivar:

  • Seed source
  • Amount of seed
  • Number of plug trays to sow at each sowing
  • Number of packs to transplant from each sowing
  • Plug trays left over after transplanting
  • Various size containers (4-inch, 6-inch, baskets, etc.)

Some growers also prepare a master sowing schedule for each week that lists the crops alphabetically which are scheduled to be sown. Each crop can be checked in the spreadsheet to see what cultivars are to be sown and how many plug trays of each. Sowing instructions are also recorded, such as whether seed should be covered etc. Any changes from this list should be recorded.

A file should also be maintained for vegetatively propagated plant material. A spreadsheet could be developed that includes:

  • Number of cuttings to stick on various stick dates
  • Number of pots or baskets to plant
  • Cultural information for each

From these individual schedules, a master propagation schedule can be put together.

Interactive Decision-Support Tools for Scheduling

There are on-line, interactive tools available to provide guidance in scheduling bedding plant crops.

FlowersOnTime by Paul Fisher (University of Florida), Erik Runkle (Michigan State University), Matthew Blanchard (Michigan State University), and John Erwin (University of Minnesota) Once on this website, you will be asked to provide your email address and the link to download the program will be sent to your email address.

FlowersOnTime is a computer decision-support tool in Microsoft Excel that quantifies how a change in greenhouse air temperature would affect flower timing for a range of floriculture species. This information is helpful when growers are considering reducing greenhouse air temperature in order to save on heating fuel cost, or because they want to achieve a target flowering date by manipulating temperature. There are 60 plus floriculture crops in the drop-down list with finish times based on temperature.

Virtual Grower 3.0 Users of the software can build a virtual greenhouse with a variety of materials for roofs and sidewalls, design the greenhouse style, schedule temperature set points throughout the year, and predict heating costs. Different heating and scheduling scenarios can be predicted with the input of a few variables, with accurate data based upon historical records collected by USDA monitoring stations across the country. The software also includes a crop timing tool for 35 floriculture crops.
The article Scheduling Bedding Plants describes how this software is used for scheduling.

Guidelines and Charts

In addition to interactive software, commercial seed and plant supply companies supply guidelines and charts available on-line and some are listed below.

Greenhouse Grown Annuals, Perennials, Vegetable and Herb Bedding Plants

Ball Seed: Production Guides
Ornamental Bedding Plants (Chart-Ball Seed)
Ornamental Plant Plugs (Chart- Ball Seed)
Vegetable and Herb Plugs (Chart-Ball Seed)
Growing Vegetable Transplants and Bedding Plants : Cultural and scheduling information (UMass Extension)
Annuals and Perennials (Syngenta) Cultural information and scheduling charts

Vegetatively Propagated Spring Annuals

Ball Publishing webinars: See “Growing a Better Liner” parts 1&2 for information on rooting cuttings.
Proven Winners: Cultural information in data base format. Use the drop down menus to see list of plants.

Cut Flowers – Greenhouse, High Tunnels

Cornell University: Cool season crops for spring, Main season crops for summer, Cool season crops for fall
Book – Specialty Cut Flowers: 2nd Edition. Timber Press, Portland, OR. 636 p.Armitage, Allan, and Judy Laushman. 2003.
Provides extensive coverage of annual, perennial, bulbous, and woody species for commercial cut flower production, including propagation and growing-on methods, environmental factors, yield in the field, greenhouse forcing, stage of harvest, postharvest handling, and pests and diseases. Available for $40 ($35 for members) plus s/h from Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG),

Garden Mums

GroLink: Cultural and scheduling information for Belgium mums.

Greenhouse Tomatoes

Scheduling Greenhouse Tomatoes Rich McAvoy, University of Connecticut

Tip 8: Planting Guide

Planting Guide – Greenhouse Growing

Some of our customers when starting out can feel a little overwhelmed when it comes to deciding what to grow and how to grow it. So we’ve come up with a guide to the planting requirements of the most popular fruit and vegetables within your greenhouse.

If you’re growing carrots, beets, turnips and other root crops, they thrive well in deep boxes which can be put under benches. Those that require tub-type containers are tomatoes, peas, cucumbers and pole beans, while lettuce or other low leafy vegetables may be planted in the tub with the taller vegetables.

You can plant corn directly on the floor of the greenhouse, in a special bed prepared for it. To save space, you can plant pumpkin between the rows of corn.

Use room temperature water to water your indoor plants. Let tap water stand for a day to get rid of the chlorine substance. This way you avoid your plants getting brown tips.

Distribute crushed egg shells in your garden to stimulate growth. Sprinkling coffee grounds will add acid to the greenhouse ground.

Before bringing vegetables and fruits from the greenhouse to your house, rinse them well outside; this way dirt and bugs stay outside and will not make your kitchen dirty.

To make more room in your greenhouse, use lower benches for starting seeds and transplants; upper benches for growing flowers and specimen plants. Some vegetables, like tomatoes, should be planted in a warm section of the greenhouse.

Regarding planting of seeds be sure to water lightly for the first few times. Over watering may cause the seeds to come to the surface too soon, preventing them from rooting properly.

Preparation and production must be done in separate areas. Don’t do general preparation on the growing floor. This makes for a tidier greenhouse.

Here is a list of the largest vegetables that will need the most spacing in your greenhouse:

Bush type beans: minimum of five feet between rows

Cabbage: a foot between rows

Peppers: about a foot between rows

Cantaloupes: two to three feet between rows

Squash: two to three feet between rows

Tomatoes and Watermelons: minimum of two feet between rows

Set up right in your backyard, greenhouses provide a stable, warm environment where plants can be grown throughout the year. They can also be used to get a head start on the growing season, by planting new seasons crops early. Or try “force growing” your spring bulbs in pots to bring inside the house when flower buds are showing. Greenhouses come in all different shapes, sizes and styles, so there’s something for everyone and every backyard.

Before you get started, you need to figure out how much growing space you need, both now and in the future – you don’t want to limit yourself in the years to come! The Trulux glasshouses we range in store are built to last and can survive virtually anything nature throws their way (as their structural 20 year warranty can attest).

So where is the best place to put your greenhouse? If it’s closer to your house or garden, you’re much more likely to use it. This also makes it so much easier to get access to electricity and water – both of which will be very useful.

Ensure the area you choose has maximum exposure to the sun. Ideally the greenhouse will get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Avoid placing your greenhouse near trees or other objects that will cast a shadow during winter months. Deciduous trees are the exception, however as they can provide much needed shade in summer, and lose their leaves in winter, allowing sunlight to get through.

Our Top Tips

Water – Water in the morning to avoid burning the plants leaves and water low down at the soil level rather than wetting the leaves to reduce risk of fungal or bacterial outbreak.

Ventilation – Your greenhouse really must have a roof vent to allow for air flow. Keep this vent and your door open during the day and close at night.

Pests & bugs – Control of whitefly can be achieved with non toxic whitefly traps that the bugs are attracted to. Hang these above your plants. Planting borage in your greenhouse will also deter whitefly and if things get carried away then use neem oil to manage an outbreak of bugs.

Too much summer sun – In the heat of the summer you can literally cook your plants. Glass is the best glazing material for greenhouses when it comes to letting sunlight and its warmth in, while keeping the elements out. Trulux greenhouses use toughened safety glass exclusively, so you’ll get great performance while still ensuring safety.

Too much wind – Your greenhouse needs to be in the sunniest, winter sun location for best growing results. This will give you the longer season time planting that is the benefit to growing indoors. Site your greenhouse where it is protected from wind and plant some great fast growing hedging like feijoa, griselinia littoralis or corokia to slow down the wind intensity. While your hedging plants are young then a simple trellis panel screen will act as some protection to your little shed.

One of the inevitable questions all greenhouse business owners face is: “What should I grow?” While it seems simple, the answer can truly affect your overall profit and success. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand and grow new crops, get started by taking a look at the list we’ve compiled of the best plants to grow in a greenhouse.

Best Plants to Grow in a Greenhouse

While there are many types of plants you can grow in a greenhouse, we’ve compiled a list that experts deem the best. Try your hand at growing some of these or expand your production to sell more variety!


The best herbs for greenhouse growing are the ones that tend to be too sensitive to be placed in a traditional, outdoor garden. Here are a few that are perfect for growing in a greenhouse:

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Mint


A majority of vegetables thrive in greenhouses. They also are great for turning a profit. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Cabbage
  • Peas


Like vegetables, fruits also thrive indoors in ideal temperatures. Here’s a handful:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Berries
  • Peaches


From gardens to bouquets, flowers are a popular retail item that can help boost your sales. A few you can start out with are:

  • Petunias
  • Geraniums
  • Impatiens
  • Salvia
  • Roses
  • Violets

Specialty Plants

In addition to flowers, specialty plants are great retail items since they make great decor and gifts. Try your hand at growing a few of these:

  • Cacti
  • Succulents
  • Bamboo

Why Use a Greenhouse to Grow Plants?

When conditions are fine-tuned with climate controls and accessories, greenhouses offer an ideal growing environment for plants. Greenhouses ultimately provide:

  • Temperature and humidity control
  • Shelter from harsh weather and winds
  • Protection from harmful pests
  • Extended growing seasons and higher crop yields
  • Increased control over crop production — watering, sunlight, etc.

As a grower, your main concern is the health and profitability of your product. Exposure to the unpredictable, outdoor environment can place a lot of stress on plants and stunt their growth over time. With the protection of a greenhouse, you can ensure that your plants grow better and stronger. Healthier plants are more profitable and tend to sell quicker than plants of lesser quality.

Tips for Growing in a Greenhouse

In order to run and maintain a profitable greenhouse, it’s important to make sure it’s well-maintained. Check out our tips for successfully growing in a greenhouse:

  1. Plan Ahead — If you’re looking to extend your growing seasons, make sure you know when to begin planting and harvesting. Keep a calendar so you’re prepared ahead of time.
  2. Use High-Quality Soil — Soil houses plant roots and aids in transporting water and nutrients to plants so they can grow. Plants growing in lesser-quality soils may not be able to pull or utilize all necessary nutrients, which can weaken them.
  3. Try Natural Ventilation — Natural ventilation will reduce greenhouse operating costs while providing your crops with fresh air, improved air circulation, temperature control, and proper humidity levels.
  4. Monitor Crop Changes — Record-keeping is strongly advised by greenhouse maintenance experts in order to maintain a successful greenhouse. Be sure to make note of any irregularities that pop up such as spotted foliage and flowers or pockets of dying plants.
  5. Keep It Clean — Keep your film or glaze (the transparent material covering your greenhouse) clean so your plants can receive optimal, consistent light exposure.
  6. Don’t Drown — While plants need water to live, too much of it will kill them. Only water them when necessary.
  7. Add Automation — With a few mechanical additions, you can produce a higher crop yield and increase labor efficiency in your greenhouse.

15 Most Popular Vegetables And Fruits To Grow In A Green House


There is a great difference between the crops grown as starter plants and the greenhouse vegetables. Masses tend to grow vegetables and fruits in their greenhouse where they’ve control environment to control temperature, providing heat, extend the growing season and to protect them from frosting. However, if you are new to gardening and planting fruits and vegetables, then you must be having good ideas what to grow in a greenhouse. God has bestowed countless variety upon us, so how can you select which are the best vegetables to grow in the greenhouse? Simply start with easy vegetables to grow so that within a year you get hands on them, so the next season you can continue to grow even the complicated ones.

1: Leafy greens:

You must start with something that belongs to “salad family” – almost every other leafy vegetable grows in the same manner, especially when considering the bedding green house plants. Other than the basic knowledge, there is some aesthetic knowledge needed as well when growing leafy vegetables. They have varying tastes and colors – they make the perfect starters and sidelines. These can be a great source of income as you can sell them to various grocery stores and even wholesalers.

2: Micro greens:

In simpler words, you can grow the lovely looking and with a mouthwatering taste Tatsoi, Beet, Peas, Choi and radish etc. they are extremely loved as sidelines and with as snacks. Once you have good knowledge, you can mix the varieties and make second-generation micro greens at your own.

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3. Spinach:

It is one of the most grown best greenhouse plants – if you want to enjoy the freshest and tastiest spinach, cut it from the garden and cook it immediately. It is so healthy that you can increase your intake of vitamins and minerals instantly. Most importantly, you would never face trouble with growing and maintaining this greenhouse vegetable.

4: Cucumber:

You must have been grown up eating cucumber salads or even the raw pieces with salt. They taste simply wonderful – however, growing them is not that simple. You need to shrink wrap them so that their freshness can be retained after harvesting.

5. Tomatoes:

Most of the greenhouses have tomatoes in various colors and shapes – they are easy to handle specially the beefsteak varieties.

6. Peppers:

Peppers are loved all over the world – they simply make the dishes tastier. To your surprise, there is a great variety of peppers that you can easily grow in your greenhouse. They have light to intense taste and colors are mind-blowing.

7: Herbs:

You might be interested in growing greenhouse vegetables indoor – herbs are the perfect in roots and without it as well. You can enhance the tastes of your meal with basil, cilantro and watercress etc.

8: Squash and Swiss chard:

They can be enjoyed planting and eating because they come in massive variety – they can even help you earn money by selling it to end users.

9: Citrus fruits:

You can grow a number of winter fruits in your greenhouse – these include sweet and sour, delicious looking melons, oranges and lemons. They have the ability to sustain even the coldest weather, so enjoy your winter evenings with juicy fruits.

10: Grapes:

Many do not know that the grapes can even be grown in the greenhouse – many free greenhouse plans can highlight details for you. You have to protect them from pests and take special care of the varieties like “black ham burgh” and “Buckland Sweetwater”.

11: Strawberries:

Fill your greenhouse with tasty strawberries this season – you can grow whatever type you want. Just make sure you provide them with sufficient space and ventilation.

12: Peaches:

It is very important for a newbie to select the right kind of greenhouse fruits and veggies. For example, peaches are extremely good to grow in the greenhouses or small gardens. They are nourishing and simple to handle too.

13: Coriander:

You cannot miss out the refreshing leafy greenhouse vegetable, which is perfect topping for salads and soups. You simply need to pay attention while the plant is growing, as it requires proper aeration and water.

14: Chilies:

You can even keep a corner of the greenhouse to plant chilies – it can include green chilies and red ones too. It solely depends upon the kind of flavor you would like to have.

15: Raspberries:

You can actually do a very good business by growing raspberries – supply them to cake bakers and enjoy the money. In addition, they are so tasty that you can add as many in your delicious fruit salads and please the guests too. They are also ideal to blend with milk and have it in the form to shakes.

Therefore, now you must be clear enough how to start and what can you grow in a greenhouse. Greenhouse vegetable gardening is not only rewarding but also fun activity too.

What Flowers Are Most Popular for Growing in Greenhouses?

One of the benefits of having a greenhouse is having the chance to produce blooming plants all year round. With the use of things like lighting and solar heating, you will be able to maintain some of the most exciting flowers that can be found and in many cases, ensure that your garden always has some color. It will be important that you do understand that you will need to keep the temperature and water in your greenhouse regulated to ensure that your plants have the chance to thrive.

Amazon Lilies

The beautiful Amazon Lily flower can reach up to two feet in height, it offers white blossoms that will be very fragrant and help to keep your greenhouse smelling sweet.

⇒ This is a bulb that is tropical by nature and that means you will need to maintain at least 70 degrees in your greenhouse at all times to prevent killing them. In addition to this, you will find that you will have the best results when using containers to grow the Amazon lily in a container.

⇒ Of course, you will also be able to grow other species of lilies in the process. Just make sure that you avoid over watering any of the species of lilies you feature in your greenhouse and that you offer them at least 8 hours of light daily, ensuring that you fill most of this time with natural sunlight when it is possible. This will help to keep them healthy and happy.

African Violets

Anyone looking for a flower that can offer a spray of colors will want to note that African violets can be ideal in your greenhouse.

⇒ You will need to ensure, that you use only low nutrient soil and have a high humidity level, to achieve the best possible results.

⇒ A good idea will be to pick up a growing bench and then allow the violets to have a place to grow and thrive when possible.

⇒ Just make sure that you avoid getting the leaves wet as this can change their appearance.

⇒ A trick that you might want to use when you get a plant you like is to take some leaf cuttings as a way to grow a new plant.

⇒ Unlike other flowers, these plants are reproduced in this manner, rather than a seed that uses a gestation period.

Chenille Plants

While some people are going to be seeking out actual flowers, others will want to consider shrubs and bushes, that they can use to fill their greenhouse.

⇒ One of the choices you will have is the Chenille Plant. This beautiful bush can reach six feet tall and have long cattail flowers that are bright red.

Chinese Hibiscus

While the hibiscus can have an absolutely stunning appearance, you will need to ensure that you are doing all you can, to maintain the temperature in your greenhouse, if you plan on planting them.

⇒ The reason is that sudden drops in temperature can cause them to die quickly.

⇒ The Chinese hibiscus will come in a variety of colors like orange, yellow, red, pink, white and more.

⇒ These blooms will reach up to 4 inches across and will perk up your greenhouse for a day.

⇒ However, the flowers on the plant will usually last just 24 hours before they wilt and die.

⇒ A good idea will be to use a nutrient rich soil to get the best possible blossoms and ensure that you water the plant regularly.


Probably one of the most common types of flowers you will find in the greenhouse will be roses.

⇒ The reason is that these plants don’t typically do well in colder weather.

⇒ Because of the cold, rose farmers will house them in units that maintain a steady temperature of anywhere between 70 and 80 degrees.

⇒ Just note that a full day of sunlight is required, for these flowers or at least a bulb, that can simulate the rays for your roses.

⇒ With that, you will also note that the roses you can find are going to come in a variety of styles and each will have its own planting needs.

⇒ A good idea will be to talk to the local nursery to ensure that you know, what you will need to do, to keep these flowers healthy and happy.

⇒ One thing will be ensuring, that you regularly feed them food, that is designed to enhance the flowers that they will produce.


Orchids are probably the most sensitive flowers you will find. Not only can they not handle weather that is too cold, but they can also die quickly in moderately warmer weather. This is one of the reasons why most are grown in greenhouses. The reason is that the temperature requirements can be maintained and enough light for them can still come through.

⇒ For these flowers, you will want to ensure that you are keeping them at no less than 70 degrees, with a maximum temperature of 80 degrees. At night, you will need to ensure you are dropping the temperature to between 50 and 60 degrees to continue their stimulation.

⇒ By doing all this, you are going to find that you can, successfully, grow an orchid and end up with a plant that does extremely well. You should take note that these plants, will often thrive best in more humid conditions, so you may want to consider this when you are looking at the things you can do to produce the best blooms.

There is no doubt that with a little effort on your part, you can successfully grow some of the most popular flowers in your greenhouse.

Just make sure you focus on lighting, soil needs and proper watering to care for these flowers, and you shouldn’t have any problems with them. There is nothing quite like knowing you have a high quality flower to cherish, that you have taken extra care to properly grow based on all the requirements that it will have. In fact, some of the harder to maintain flowers will give you the chance to master your skills and benefit with a beautiful reward.

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