How to Grow Plants With a Hobby Greenhouse


A small hobby greenhouse is great for getting a jump on your summer vegetable garden and for extending and protecting the life of potted plants of all kinds. You can make your greenhouse fancy, with grow lights, fans, automated ventilation and a source of heat, or keep it simple by building an environment that will be safe from frost and cold winter temperatures. Whether you're an orchid enthusiast or simply a gardener who wants a protected space for some cherished plants, a hobby greenhouse can provide you---and your plants---with many benefits.

Growing Plants in a Hobby Greenhouse

Step 1

Decide what type of plants you want to grow in your greenhouse. This will help you to know how big to build it and what other features it needs to include. Will you be using your greenhouse for specialty plants such as orchids or other tropicals that require controlled temperature, humidity and light? Or will you be using it mainly to protect frost tender potted plants in the winter months?

Step 2

Build shelves on which you can place small potted plants, flats and pots for starting seedlings. If you want to grow a crop such as lettuce in the winter, build a planter box. Supply artificial light in the form of fluorescent shop lights or specialty grow lights because the natural light your plants will receive might not be sufficient for them to grow tall and strong, especially in winter.

Step 3

Supply heat if your winters are cold. An inexpensive, simple passive solar method is to make a "heat sink" by filling plastic gallon milk jugs with water, which will heat up during the day and keep their warmth at night.

Step 4

Start seeds in your greenhouse before your final spring frost. Fill nursery pots or flats with good quality potting soil and then bury your seeds according to package instructions. Keep them moist and provide them with plenty of light. You'll be able to transplant them into your garden sooner than if you started them outdoors after your last frost.

Step 5

Move frost-tender potted plants into your greenhouse before your first fall frost. Even plants such as citrus trees can benefit from living outdoors in the summer and indoors in the winter.

Step 6

Research the needs of special plants, such as orchids, to learn their preferred temperature, humidity level and lighting requirements. Armed with this knowledge, you can then install sources of heat and light and a way to keep the humidity at the correct level.

Tips and Warnings

  • Insects can invade a greenhouse. The greenhouse can provide them with the conditions they love, such as warmth and humidity. Watch for ants on your plants because they indicate the presence of other harmful insects, such as aphids and scale. Spray with insecticidal soap to control those insects as soon as you notice them.

Things You'll Need

  • Flats or pots
  • Potting soil
  • Grow lights (optional)
  • Fan (optional)
  • Heater or heat sink (optional)
  • Insecticidal soap (optional)


  • Hobby Greenhouse Association
  • Hobby greenhouse
  • Gardener's Supply
Keywords: hobby greenhouse, gardening indoors, frost tender

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.