How to Garden in a Small Greenhouse


When you begin to get hooked on gardening, it's inevitable that you will want to expand your knowledge and your ability to grow more, grow better and grow faster than when you put your first seed into soil. A small hobby greenhouse can fill the bill because it allows you to get a jump on the summer gardening season and protect your frost-tender potted plants in the winter. A backyard greenhouse doesn't need to be large. You can build one with 2-by-4s and corrugated fiberglass panels for a minimal amount of money. A small greenhouse is a valuable adjunct to your outdoor garden.

Gardening in a Small Greenhouse

Step 1

Begin summer season vegetable seeds six weeks before your predicted final spring frost. If you build shelves in your greenhouse, they will serve well for pots and flats loaded with potting soil and your favorite vegetables. Be sure to provide them with adequate light and water them daily.

Step 2

Keep specialty plants, such as orchids, in your greenhouse because you can control the temperature, humidity and light.

Step 3

Heat your greenhouse on cold nights by filling a number of plastic milk jugs with water; they will heat up during the daytime and retain some warmth through the night. If you hang a few incandescent lights in your greenhouse they will supply some heat as well.

Step 4

Install a drip irrigation system with built-in misters on a timer to keep the humidity high.

Step 5

Hang fluorescent shop lights or specialty grow lights, such as metal halide, to give your plants the light they need in order to grow strong and tall.

Step 6

Set up one or more electric fans to improve air circulation, especially if you keep your greenhouse closed during cold weather. Still air in combination with warmth and moisture can be conducive to the development of fungal diseases.

Step 7

Control insect pests such as aphids and spider mites with insecticidal soap if they invade your greenhouse. Ants on your plants don't cause any harm but they bring harmful insects onto plants. Set out ant stakes or spread a thick layer of Tanglefoot on the main stalks of your plants to deter them.

Step 8

Move frost-tender plants into your greenhouse before your first fall frost. If you grow citrus trees in large pots, they do well indoors during cold weather, as do many other plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Flats or pots
  • Potting soil
  • Plastic milk jugs filled with water (optional)
  • Incandescent lights (optional)
  • Drip irrigation system with misters and timer (optional)
  • Grow or shop lights (optional)
  • Fan (optional)
  • Insecticidal soap (optional)
  • Tanglefoot (optional)


  • Greenhouses
  • Hobby Greenhouse Association
  • Hobby greenhouse

Who Can Help

  • Gardener's Supply
Keywords: greenhouse gardening, specialty gardens, 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.