Growing plants in a greenhouse can be rewarding for the home gardener – not only can you propagate new plants from your existing landscape favorites, but you can get a jump start on your vegetable garden, or grow it entirely indoors with the help of a greenhouse. Although the plants that will grow best in your greenhouse depend heavily on your setup, suitable plants for greenhouse gardening are available for every kind of greenhouse and climate.
Environmental Control with Greenhouses
Greenhouses allow a gardener the unique opportunity to control the climate no matter what’s actually happening outside. In some regions, having better control means you can grow a wider range of plants, even if they never get to venture outdoors. Many gardeners keep the chill off their plants with unheated greenhouses or cold frames, but this is the least flexible of greenhouse structures.
Year-round greenhouse growers will need more complicated systems fitted with heating and cooling systems, ventilation, lights and shades to cloak plants that require darkness to flower. These types of greenhouses host the widest range of plants, and can often be adjusted to support nearly any type of plant life. Larger greenhouses can be divided internally to create climate zones, allowing different growing conditions within the same structure.
Plants to Grow in a Greenhouse
The best greenhouse plants thrive in containers, at least temporarily, and fit in well with the type of microclimate you’re able to produce inside your greenhouse.
List of Common Greenhouse Plants
Vegetables – Vegetables are usually divided into two main groups: cool season crops and warm season crops.
Cool season crops like lettuce, broccoli, peas and carrots are great choices for cold frames and unheated backyard greenhouses. These plants can tolerate chilly nights, so heating isn’t necessary when growing them unless you live in an area where temperatures reach extreme lows. Many also grow well in part-shade, reducing the need for overhead lighting. Just make sure to properly ventilate your greenhouse and install a fan for the rare hot day in the early season.
Warm season vegetables, including cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and peppers, thrive in greenhouses with steady temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (12-29 C.). These plants often require supplemental lighting, trellising and hand-pollination, but will provide you with year-round summer favorites if you treat them nicely.
Ornamentals – Ornamentals may be grouped into sun or shade-loving annuals and perennials, and may be further divided by their humidity needs or other unique features. Other favorite ornamental and landscape plants include:
Although these plants can be grown outdoors in many locations, indoor growing allows hybridizers to isolate pollen and readily multiply beloved plants from cuttings.
Tropicals – Even tropical plants and cacti have a place in the right greenhouse! If you want to grow something more interesting, greenhouses can be ideal settings for small tropical plants like orchids, Venus flytraps and other carnivorous plants, if you pay close attention to indoor conditions.