The best greenhouse
Growing plants can be a complex business, especially when the weather won't cooperate. Greenhouses provide you with a warm, sheltered spot to extend your growing season or start seedlings before they can survive out in the elements. If you have the space and the budget, a greenhouse is every avid gardener's friend.
Read this guide to learn how to pick the best greenhouse. Palram's Nature Series Hybrid Hobby Greenhouse is our favorite model due to its durability and light-diffusing panels that keep you from burning delicate plants.
Considerations when choosing greenhouses
While you can still find a handful of greenhouses with wooden frames, the majority of new greenhouses either have aluminum or steel frames. Steel is extremely strong and fairly inexpensive, but it's heavy and can corrode over time, even when galvanized or powder coated. Aluminum is lightweight and won't rust or corrode, but it isn't as strong as steel and therefore requires more pieces to maintain structural integrity, so more shadows are thrown inside the greenhouse.
Pane or cover material
Greenhouses traditionally had glass panes, and while they're still used today, polycarbonate is becoming a more popular pane material. Glass is fragile, so it's fairly easy for panes to break and need replacing over time. On the other hand, polycarbonate is tough and likely to last the lifetime of your greenhouse. It's worth noting that polycarbonate doesn't let through as much light as glass, so it's not the best choice for light-loving plants, but it can be beneficial for plants prone to burning. That said, your average plant will grow just fine in a polycarbonate greenhouse. There are also inexpensive greenhouses with flexible plastic covers rather than panes. These aren't especially durable but work okay if you're on a budget.
Greenhouses often have roof vents to let in some air and release some moisture if it becomes too hot and humid for the plants in your greenhouse.
Some greenhouses include tiered shelving that may either be built-in or freestanding. This gives you more space for plants, compost, pots, and tools.
Double-walled polycarbonate provides better insulation than single-walled polycarbonate or glass. This helps with heat retention inside the greenhouse, which is useful on chilly nights.
You can pay anywhere from $30 to $60 for a mini greenhouse up to $10,000 or more for an extra-large grower greenhouse. A mid-sized glass or polycarbonate plastic option costs between $700 and $2,000.
Q. Can I use my greenhouse year-round?
A. Any greenhouse can be used to extend your growing season or provide a warmer, more humid environment for plants that thrive in these kinds of conditions, but not all are suitable for year-round use, because they still get extremely cold inside when it's freezing outside. However, you can use a greenhouse year-round if you choose a well-insulated model or you install heating inside.
Q. Do I need a professional to erect my greenhouse?
A. Small greenhouses are generally easy for one or two people with little DIY experience to assemble, especially if they have frames that you put together tool-free. Larger greenhouses may require professional assembly unless you or a loved one are particularly handy. They often require foundations for stability, which isn't an easy task for someone without experience.
Greenhouses we recommend
Best of the best: Palram's Nature Series Hybrid Hobby Greenhouse
Our take: A sturdy and versatile option that's available in a range of sizes to meet your requirements.
What we like: Strong yet lightweight rust-resistant aluminum frame. Panes diffuse light to avoid plant damage. Roof vents and rain gutters are useful additions.
What we dislike: Assembly instructions aren't especially clear.
Best bang for your buck: Best Choice Products' Three-Tier 12-Shelf Portable Walk-in Greenhouse
Our take: This affordable mini greenhouse is large enough to walk into but won't take up too much space in your yard.
What we like: Easy to assemble and take apart. Includes 12 shelves to give you more growing space. Includes stakes and ropes to secure it in place.
What we dislike: Soft plastic cover is fairly flimsy.
Choice 3: Blissun's Four-Tier Mini Greenhouse
Our take: A compact model great for starting seedlings or growing small plants, but not much else.
What we like: Includes four built-in shelves, though you can remove them for growing taller plants. Frame slots together easily with no tools required. Perfect if you don't have much space.
What we dislike: Too small for anyone looking for a more traditional greenhouse.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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