How to Operate a Greenhouse

Overview

Once you build a greenhouse, it's not enough to put your plants into the structure and hope for the best. A greenhouse is a humid, closed environment that plants thrive in. Unfortunately, the same conditions that plants love are also the same conditions that fungal or bacterial diseases thrive in. Greenhouses require constant monitoring as well as maintenance and upkeep in order to work efficiently.

Step 1

Visit your greenhouse up to four times daily to check the conditions in the house.

Step 2

Check the temperature in the greenhouse the moment you step inside. Open vents or the greenhouse door to ventilate the greenhouse if the temperature rises too high for the plants in the greenhouse.

Step 3

Move a portable space heater into the greenhouse if you do not already have a heating system installed. Turn on the heater if the greenhouse temperatures drop too low for the plants in the greenhouse.

Step 4

Establish a pattern through your greenhouse each morning during your first visit that will allow you to check each plant in the greenhouse and maintain every square inch of the structure.

Step 5

Water each plant in which the soil has become dry at the roots. Add the water directly to the growing medium. Avoid splashing water on the leaves of the plant to reduce the chance of diseases. As you water the plants, look them over for signs of disease. Remove all diseased plants from your greenhouse to prevent the spread of disease. Remove all withering vegetation, weeds and plant debris from your greenhouse.

Step 6

Observe the greenhouse for signs of wear and tear that you will need to fix, such as tears in greenhouse plastic. Your greenhouse will last longer if you constantly maintain it.

Step 7

Move portable fans into a greenhouse to help stir up the air. Space plants properly when you plant them in raised beds or move the potted plants into the greenhouse. This will improve circulation and discourage the development of diseases.

Step 8

Open the ventilation and turn on the fans in the afternoon to push humid air out of the greenhouse and replace it with cooler air. The cooler air will be less humid when it warms.

Step 9

Use only fresh, commercial-grade potting soil that has been sterilized. Do not re-use soil. This will help prevent the spread of diseases.

Things You'll Need

  • Thermometer
  • Space heater
  • Watering can
  • Trash can
  • Portable fan
  • Potting soil

References

  • University of Kentucky Extension: Managing the Greenhouse Environment to Control Plant Diseases
  • University of Massachusetts Extension: Greenhouse Management / Engineering
  • University of Massachusetts Extension: Sustainable Greenhouse Management

Who Can Help

  • University of Maryland: Planning a Greenhouse
Keywords: raising greenhouse plants, maintaining a greenhouse, operating a hothouse

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."