How to Design & Build a Tropical Greenhouse


A tropical greenhouse is a greenhouse designed to grow tropical plants in a controlled environment. In order to grow tropical plants, the inside temperature of the greenhouse must be kept far above the freezing point at all times to prevent damaging the plants. If you are not in a hot climate, you will need to limit the amount of heat loss by using high end glazing and active heating.

Step 1

Choose the tropical plants which you would like to grow. Make sure to choose plants that can survive with the amount of sun that your location has.

Step 2

Build your greenhouse frame using standard framing techniques. Build a sub-floor using lumber or a concrete slab. Make sure to use board foam insulation to insulate the floor, especially if you are in a cold region.

Step 3

Close the north wall and the north part of the roof if you are using a gable roof to prevent drafts and wind.

Step 4

Use siding on the outside and use bat or foam board insulation in the voids to insulate the wall. Use wood siding to close the inside wall after putting in the insulation.

Step 5

Paint the wall white to maximize the sun's reflection toward the inside of the greenhouse. This will help create additional heat.

Step 6

Install double or triple wall glazing based on your climate. Check for air leaks and make sure that potential leaks are plugged to avoid plant damage.

Step 7

Purchase or re-purpose 55-gallon drums. Clean the drums out and fill them with water. The water absorbs energy and acts as a buffer in case of cold temperatures or if the heating system malfunctions.

Step 8

Install a heating system. You can get electric, propane or wood heaters to help heat your greenhouse. Install fans in the ceiling of the greenhouse to avoid pockets of hot or cold air.

Step 9

Install a digital thermostat and connect it to the heater if you want to maintain the same temperature automatically. Remember to set a lower temperature at night.

Step 10

Setup a greenhouse cover if you live in a cold climate to minimize heat loss at night.

Things You'll Need

  • Lumber
  • Glazing
  • Heater
  • Fan
  • Siding
  • Insulation
  • Subfloor sheeting
  • 55-gallon drums


  • "Greenhouse Gardener's Companion"; Shane Smith; 2000
Keywords: tropical greenhouse, heated greenhouse, building a greenhouse

About this Author

Andrea Helaine started writing professionally in 2003 and has been published through eHow, "Chrysalis Literary Magazine," "Spotlight Chicago" and other online and literary publications. She holds a Bachelor of Philosophy in theology from Ave Maria College, a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from National University and is completing TESOL certification.

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