Glasshouses, conservatories, nurseries… there are many different terms used to refer to greenhouses and greenhouse kits. They serve an equally wide range of purposes, too.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect environment in which to start out seedling plants, or somewhere that you can maintain the optimal temperature control for your succulents throughout the winter, or even something that can house your exotics and protect them from the harsh weather conditions, most come right back to the good, old-fashioned greenhouse kits.
But what do you need to know about greenhouses, and once you’ve learned those things, what type of greenhouse kits do you need to buy? Is there a benefit to the more-expensive types over the cheap ones? There’s a whole lot to learn, so let’s get into it!
Our Top Picks At Amazon:
- Best Small Greenhouse: Gardman R687 4-Tier Mini Greenhouse
- Best Portable Greenhouse: Quictent Portable Cloche
- Best Large Greenhouse: MELLCOM 26’x10′ Greenhouse Tunnel
- Best Heavy-Duty Greenhouse: Palram Snap & Grow
Other Good Choices From Amazon:
One important thing to know about greenhouses is that there are hundreds of types of greenhouse kits out there. If you don’t find what you specifically need for your growing needs right away, keep looking, because it’s likely already available if you search for it.
But allow me to offer some great starting points for your search, and talk about some of the better greenhouses on the market right now and what they’re best for. Then you can buy your own greenhouse!
It’s important to note that more professional glass greenhouses are great for gardeners who have the outdoor space and want a permanent structure. However, we have left glass greenhouses out as this is specified for kits that gardeners can built at home.
Best Small Greenhouse
Gardman R687 4-Tier Mini Greenhouse
- Ideal for small backyards or homes where space is...
- Gives seeds, seedlings, and young plants an early...
- Clear polyethylene cover and roll-up zippered door...
|Type:||Softcover, mini greenhouse|
|Material:||Tubular steel, polyethylene|
|Dimensions:||27” wide x 18” deep x 63” tall|
|Features:||4 shelves, comes with metal stakes and guy lines to protect plants from win. Roll-up zippered door in front. Replacement greenhouse cover available. Mini greenhouse|
Among the other small greenhouse kits, this is actually one of my favorites on this list, and for good reason. Sometimes, you just don’t need a whole lot of greenhouse space, and this mini-greenhouse kit provides just enough room to get the seeds started in the colder months. If desired, it can be used indoors as it has a small enough footprint, which means that in the dead of winter, this can be set up in the garage with grow lights attached to the bottom of each shelf, allowing early preparation of plants for the spring.
I especially appreciate that this mini-greenhouse comes with stakes and guy lines for outdoor wind support. Very few other polyethylene models offer that extra bit of stability. It does need a little more securing for the shelves, but a couple zip ties do the trick nicely. All in all, my pick for the best small greenhouse kit is a great choice that will work for people who don’t need much or are limited on space. Those who want a mini greenhouse should look no further.
Best Portable Greenhouse
Quictent Portable Cloche
- 【ITEM EXACTLY MATCH THE DESCRIPTION】---Powder...
- 【OVERLONG COVER DESIGN】---- Makes greenhouse...
- 【UPDATED DESIGN 2 LARGE DOORS】----2 doors can...
|Type:||Softcover, medium size|
|Material:||Powder-coated steel, waterproof PVC cover|
|Dimensions:||71” wide x 36” deep x 36” tall|
|Features:||Cover has four zippered access/ventilation portals that can be tied open. Designed to sit over a narrow, long plot. Only 3’ tall. Portable in design and construction.|
While generally I don’t find a need for portable greenhouses as they are, in essence, fancy cold frames, this greenhouse kit is useful. Lightweight and easy to move around, it can provide quick protection if the weather turns chilly. This portable greenhouse kit is quite simple to construct.
It’s not very tall, so it would not work over massive tomato plants or climbers, but it can be secured with ropes and stakes (not included) to the ground to provide some protection from wind. All in all, if you want something you can move around quickly, this is a great choice.
Best Large Greenhouse
MELLCOM 26’x10′ Greenhouse Tunnel
- 【12 ROLL-UP SIDE WINDOWS】-The green house...
- 【HEAVY DUTY STEEL FRAME】-Walk-in Garden...
- 【TRANSPARENT PLASTIC COVER】-The tough, durable...
|Material:||Powder-coated steel, rip-stop clear nylon|
|Dimensions:||10’ wide x 26’ deep x 6.6’ tall|
|Features:||Extremely large. Sturdy and heavy-weight for wind and weather resistance. Has built-in half-moon mesh vents on either end. Roll-up doors on either end for easy access.|
The Mellcom greenhouse kit is an excellent growing environment, and it’s massive. Intended for people who are doing hydroponics or who are selling young plants, or even for smaller farm seed starting ventures, this greenhouse is multifunctional. It is strong and protective of the plants within, and can be a very good choice for people who are setting up a larger-scale natural light grow tent on their property. Overall, there’s no question that this has to be my pick for best large greenhouse.
Best Heavy-Duty Greenhouse
Palram Snap & Grow
- Item may ship in more than one box and may arrive...
- Crystal clear virtually unbreakable polycarbonate...
- Reinforced, double wall & rust resistance aluminum...
|Material:||Aluminum with UV-resistant polycarbonate roof and side panels|
|Dimensions:||6’ wide x 8’ deep x 7’ tall|
|Features:||Very snow, wind, and rain resistant. Has built-in roof vents and a split door for extra ventilation. Polycarbonate panels filter UV rays and offer about 90% light transmission to the plants inside. Extremely pest and animal-resistant. Requires gloves and some tools to assemble.|
The Palram Snap & Grow greenhouse kit is another of my favorites. If you want something that truly will withstand all weather conditions, this is the ideal choice, and it is set up in a way as to make it comfortable to work inside.
The polycarbonate panels allow about 90% of the sunlight to filter through to the plants, which can be very useful in warmer environments (especially if the top half of the door is opened for heat release), and there are good vents in the roof as well. Just be sure that it is placed on very level ground!
Most Adaptable Greenhouse
Giantex Garden Portable Wooden Cold Frame/Greenhouse
- Foldable Top-- Two top parts of this product could...
- Beautify Green Spaces and Large Capacity-- Big...
- Solid Structure--Structured with heavy-duty wood...
|Material:||Wood, polycarbonate glazing board|
|Weight:||Weights vary depending on size|
|Features:||Depending on model, it either has a hinged top opening with locking arms or front doors. Solid construction, easily able to handle snow, rain, and wind conditions. Smallest model sits directly on the soil like a cloche, but other models can be like a potting table/cold frame hybrid, a true small greenhouse, or a cold-frame style with open bottom.|
There are a variety of styles produced by Giantex, all of which fall under the same category. All of them offer wood frame construction which is stylish and can offer visual appeal in the yard, but each style varies. Whether you opt for small greenhouse kits like a fancier cold frame greenhouse kit, or a cabinet-like small greenhouse, these hard greenhouse cover options are wind and weather-resistant.
Best Lean-To Greenhouse
Rion Sun Room 2
- Quickly and easily cover your porch, deck or patio...
- Roof panels are 100% UV protected, 4mm twin-wall...
- 3mm translucent acrylic wall panels are 100% UV...
|Type:||Hardcover, large lean-to greenhouse|
|Material:||Resin frame, dual-pane polycarbonate panels.|
|Dimensions:||Sizes range from 6’ x 6’ to 8’ x 20’.|
|Weight:||Varies by size, smallest is 176 lbs and largest is 568.1 lbs.|
|Features:||Dual-pane window panels provide an extra layer of insulation from the weather outside. Vents in roof panels, along with a secure exterior door. This is designed to be attached to the side of a house, so has three walls + sloped roof.|
Let’s say you have a large house, a large yard, and want something that you can relax in while gardening. Does this sound like you? If so, the Rion Sun Room greenhouse kit is a phenomenal option. It’s a lean-to greenhouse that attaches to the side of the house and creates a secured sun room that you can work in, even in the most inclement of weather conditions.
Better yet, the dual-paned window panels of this lean-to greenhouse provide great insulation for a windowed room. If you have extra money and want the best-looking lean-to greenhouse available, this is your pick.
Best Pop Up Greenhouse
Botanic Portable Greenhouse Indoor Outdoor, 3 Steady Tiers 12 Sturdy Shelves Walk-in Plant Green House with Durable PE Cover
- ✅ FREE GARDENING E-BOOK INCLUDED - Extend your...
- ✅ BUILT TO WITHSTAND EXTREME WEATHER - This pop...
- ✅ INDOOR & OUTDOOR GREENHOUSE - Protect young...
|Type:||Soft cover, pop-up|
|Material:||PVC frame, polyvinyl chloride cover|
|Dimensions:||56 x 56 x 77 inches|
|Features:||Free e-book, seed starting trays, stakes, and zip ties included. Adaptable to indoor/outdoor. Small but sturdy design. Easy assembly — no tools required. Built to withstand extreme weather. Velcro roll up doors and ventilation.|
When it comes to pop-up greenhouses, this greenhouse kit comes with all the bells and whistles. Not only do you get all the tools you need to weather proof this easy-to-assemble pop-up, you also get a free e-book and seed starting supplies. This makes an excellent first greenhouse for a new gardener, and it’s one of the best small greenhouse kits for that purpose!
Best Hoop Greenhouse
KING BIRD Upgraded 15×6.6×6.6FT Large Walk-in Greenhouse
- 【Reinforced 3 Crossbars Roof Structure】If you...
- 【2 Entrances & 2 Zipper Screen Doors】2...
- 【Durable UV Protection Level 6 PE...
|Type:||Soft cover, walk in greenhouse|
|Material:||Galvanized steel frame, Reinforced 140g/m2 PE grid cover|
|Dimensions:||15 x 6.6 x 6.6 feet|
|Features:||Hoop design with walk-in capability. Professional after sale services. 8 screen windows with velcro and ties. 2 part mesh and PE door. 3 horizontal and diagonal galvanized steel bars in frame. Ample space for many plants.|
For those who know the benefit hoop houses provide in cold, this greenhouse kit has what you need. Its tall ceilings give you plenty of space to walk in and maintenance your plants, and you might have room for storage as well. Its durable steel frame and included stakes give you some extra wind resistance, though in areas with high winds, it may be worth reinforcing it slightly more.
The doubled door — made of mesh and polyethylene — seals the greenhouse off from the elements.
Best Easy Set Up Greenhouse
EAGLE PEAK 12′ x 8′ Portable Large Walk-in Instant Greenhouse with Support Pole
- Support Pole Included: Comes with a unique...
- One Person Setup: ONE PERSON SETUP: Innovative...
- No Tools Necessary: EAGLE PEAK Pop-up Greenhouse...
|Type:||Soft cover, walk in|
|Material:||Steel frame, polyethylene cover|
|Dimensions:||144 x 96 x 99.6 inches|
|Features:||Easy one person setup with adjustable height. Open canopy frame. 6 roll up windows and added anchoring system. Large interior fits most shelving. 1-year limited after sale protection from the original date of purchase.|
This pop-up greenhouse kit is great for gardeners who want something that is easy to assemble, and offers some adjustment. Its interior is 12 by 8 feet, giving you 72 square feet to work with inside. You can adjust the ceiling of the greenhouse to 3 different heights to suit your needs, and its 6 roll up windows provide plenty of ventilation, should you need it.
While the anchoring system does root the greenhouse floor closer to the earth, extra stability may be necessary in areas with high winds.
Best Professional Greenhouse
AMERLIFE 12 w x10x10 FT Polycarbonate Greenhouse
- 12x10x10 Professional Grade & Weather-resistant...
- Get a 10FT High Storage Shed or Sunroom: 715 cu....
- 4 Vents & Double Sliding Doors: Ensure your plants...
|Type:||Hard cover, walk in|
|Material:||Black powered coated aluminum frame, 6mm twin-wall translucent polycarbonate paneled cover|
|Dimensions:||144 x 120 x 120 inches|
|Features:||Heavy duty design, with durable materials. Professional grade and weather-resistant. 715 cubic feet, with 10 foot-high ceilings. Built-in gutter system. 4 windows and 2 sliding doors. Room for multiple wall racks or shelves with high weight-bearing potential. High UV resistance.|
This greenhouse kit is great for seasoned growers, or new gardeners who want to commit to a more permanent structure. It offers tons of space, topping out at 715 cubic feet, with 10 foot-high ceilings. There’s room for protecting plants and storing garden tools, as well as soil and amendments. While it’s heavier than the other models on this list, that makes it much more stable.
Its built-in gutter system makes drainage easier, which means you’ll reduce the potential for water-borne diseases and pests. You may need a building permit for this one, as it’s pretty permanent.
Best Gazebo Greenhouse
Palram – Canopia Oasis Greenhous – 7′ w x 8′ x 9′ – Gray
- THOUGHTFUL ENGINEERING THAT OFFERS YEAR ROUND...
- STURDY THOUGHTFUL CONSTRUCTION WILL LAST A...
- STEP-BY-STEP DIY INSTRUCTIONS DESIGNED FOR...
|Type:||Hard cover, gazebo style|
|Material:||Aluminum and powder-coated steel frame, polycarbonate cover|
|Dimensions:||97.3 x 83.9 x 105 inches|
|Features:||Sturdy, long-lasting construction. Withstands up to 55 mph winds. Gazebo shape. Adjustable side Louvre Window provides air flow and allows for the regulation of humidity. Built-in gutter system for better drainage. Parts and service available so you can garden year-round.|
This gazebo greenhouse kit has most of what the AMERLIFE greenhouse has with a distinctive gazebo design that is pleasing in any garden space. It, too, has a built-in gutter system, which alongside the Lourve side window, makes humidity regulation very easy. It’s somewhat light compared to the other professional grade house on this list. However, it will need some reinforcement in areas with high winds.
Best Walk-In Greenhouse
Outsunny 6′ w x 4′ x 7′ Polycarbonate Greenhouse
- FIND YOUR GREEN THUMB: This walk-in polycarbonate...
- STRONG WOODEN FRAME: This walk-in greenhouse was...
- TRANSPARENT POLYCARBONATE HOT HOUSE: A greenhouse...
|Type:||Hard cover, walk in|
|Material:||Wood frame, polycarbonate windows|
|Dimensions:||74.4 w x 46.8 x 82.8 inches|
|Features:||Lovely and strong wooden greenhouse frame. Transparent windows let sunlight in and block out damaging UV rays. Easy assembly, snap-in windows. Lockable swing latching door. Easy to put together with little assistance.|
For a classic feel, and easy setup, this Outsunny greenhouse kit has you covered. Its greenhouse frame is made of fir, and its windows are a transluscent polycarbonate which is designed to block out damaging UV rays and lock in the sunlight your plants need. The latching door makes this semi-permanent structure feel more substantial. It will likely need stablization in high winds. As long as you check the structure regularly after a few seasons, and maintenance it regularly, it should last you years.
What To Look For In Your Greenhouse
While you may be looking at the wide range of greenhouses or greenhouse kits out there, eyes crossing at all of the variety, there’s some basic aspects that you need to take into consideration. Depending on what you are using your greenhouse for, these aspects may be of varying importance to you, so read on to learn more.
The bare bones framework for greenhouse kits can be the difference between something you have to keep replacing and something that you buy just once.
While most cheap greenhouses are formed with lightweight aluminum tubes, which will hold up just fine for a growing season or two (and sometimes longer), there are more expensive greenhouse kits made of wood or powder-coated steel, and I highly recommend those. The only time that a sturdy aluminum frame is suitable for a greenhouse is when it is meant to hold solid panels rather than tubes, and is built much thicker and heavier than anticipated.
While there are homemade versions of greenhouse kits that use PVC to good effect, the commercial options typically don’t.
Hardcover or Softcover?
If you’re on a quest for the best greenhouse kit material, you may find it difficult. There is no single best material for greenhouse use. The question of whether you want a hard-paneled greenhouse or one with a soft, lightweight cover really depends on what your environment is like and how often you’re going to use it.
If you are using it to provide light while maintaining the temperature control inside, keeping it warmer than outdoors or using fans to keep it cooler, or in some rarer circumstances using swamp coolers to raise the humidity inside, you probably want to look at hard panel greenhouse kits. Most of the hard panels now are made from high-quality polycarbonate sheeting, which offers wind resistance, snow and ice resistance, and keeps the temperature inside stable.
If you are looking for something a bit lighter in weight, or something portable, you may want to opt for a flexible polyethylene cover material or a PVC fabric in your greenhouse kits. There are rip-stop vinyl options out there as well which can provide you a good cover to keep the ambient warmth inside higher than the outside air.
These greenhouse kits are good for most basic home gardeners who are just looking to keep growing plants during the colder months of the year, but they won’t hold up to heavy snow weight as well, and need to be replaced more often.
While we’re on the topic of snow weight, the sturdiness of the construction is key. If you live in an environment where you get heavy snows, a flexible cover is probably not your best bet, as it can tear, puncture, or sag and warp over time. In addition, if you’re in a windy area, those flexible covers can act like a sail and cause your greenhouse to go flying if it’s not staked down.
It helps if the design of your greenhouse is built with strength in mind. If, for example, you pair soft cover greenhouse kits with a frame that precisely fits inside that cover and stretches into place, the entire structure is a bit more stable. Weighing it down with plants will only help that to stand up to a bit of abuse. But that will only do so much, so consider your weather conditions before purchasing your preferred greenhouse kits.
Do you have a very small back yard, or do you have a couple of acres to play with? This makes a huge difference in choosing your own greenhouse. If you’ve got a small yard, and all you’re doing is propagating some plants for transplant elsewhere in your yard, you might not need anything big. But if you’ve got an acre or two of land, a larger greenhouse gives you the ability to start seeds and have a nursery for your young plants until it’s transplant time in the growing season.
In addition, some types of larger greenhouse kits can be used to provide both shade cover in the summer and warmth in the winter. Depending on your weather patterns, you may be able to grow in these year-round. And if you grow hydroponically, these can offer you the light you need while keeping random insects or plant matter from landing in your outdoor tanks, thereby protecting your pumps.
While a greenhouse is fantastic at trapping the heat from the sun, it can also rapidly turn into an oven due to its clear sides amplifying the sun’s warmth. In hotter environments, this is especially problematic. You need adequate ventilation in your greenhouse kits to let excess heat escape.
You also need reasonable ventilation to protect against humidity-related problems such as powdery mildew. If there is not enough air circulation around your plants, you’re basically creating an environment where they are subject to diseases. Being able to open vents and doors, or roll up the sides, is required for fresh air in better weather conditions.
While this might seem to be an obvious requirement for greenhouse kits, it’s not. Some companies do not provide shelving with their greenhouses initially, where others work it into the frame itself to use it to reinforce the frame. Still others provide shelving but make it modular, so that you can adjust the level at which your plants are sitting to provide various heights. For me, the modular shelving is the best choice, especially when I’m starting new plants. However, your needs may vary.
If you have a priceless collection of tropical plants that love humidity that you maintain in a climate-controlled greenhouse, you might be wondering about the security and protectiveness of greenhouse kits. Other high-value or attractive plants may also need something which can be closed off entirely, keeping unwanted guests of either the two-legged or four-legged variety out.
The material the walls are made of determine how effectively you can keep the greenhouse warm in cold weather. The same goes for the inverse, as temperature control for maintaining cool air in a greenhouse is largely determined by materials.
While it is rare to find a greenhouse kits with a locking door, some of the hardshell options offer at least the option of sliding a separate lock through to secure your plants. If you’re just protecting your catmint collection from the neighbor’s prized felines, this might not be required, but it’s always good to know that this option is occasionally available!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What style of greenhouse is the best?
A: That depends on what you need it for! If you have lots of plants that need protection in winter and summer, a larger, more permanent structure is best. If it’s just a few plants for a short time, small greenhouse kits like a cloche might do the trick.
Q: What is the best inexpensive greenhouse?
A: Probably one of the lightweight models above with anchors will give you the best value.
Q: What is the best month to buy a greenhouse?
A: It’s best to buy in the off-season, in fall or winter. This will get you the best bang for your buck, rather than springing for one while everyone else is in the growing season.
Q: What is the best greenhouse for strong winds?
A: The gazebo style house we have on this list is the most wind-resistant.
Q: What is the best brand of greenhouse to buy?
A: The Giantex greenhouse on this list is adaptable to many different settings and offers a design that will hold up over time in the elements. We consider this one the best on the list!
Q: How warm is an unheated greenhouse in winter?
A: It depends on the material of your greenhouse. On the lower end, you’ll have at least 8 degrees of difference. On the higher end, expect about 20-30 degrees difference.
Q: What is the lifespan of a greenhouse?
A: That also depends on the material. More permanent structures can last decades, while cheaper models with soft covers might last just a few seasons.
Q: Is it cheaper to build a greenhouse or buy a kit?
A: Usually a kit saves you a lot of time and effort, whereas a DIY house can save you a lot of money. Usually you’re trading time for money in either case.