Greenhouse Types

From seasonal to functional to plant specific, learn more on greenhouse varieties

Seasonal

Season Extension Greenhouses

Nonthermal Aluminum with Monolithic Glazing

Season Extension Greenhouse This system is ideal for spring and fall gardening when heating and cooling are not a concern. A nonthermal greenhouse is suitable for a hobby gardener who uses the structure to extend the beginning or end of the growing season by four to eight weeks, depending on location. Gardeners can start seeds in the greenhouse during spring and transplant the seedlings outdoors after the frost free date passes. Fall bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, can be forced into early blooms in these structures. The greenhouse can overwinter dormant plants during their off seasons. A foundation may not be required if the greenhouse is less than 200 square feet, so please check your local code.

Three Season Greenhouses

Nonthermal Aluminum with Insulated Glazing

Three Season Greenhouses This greenhouse system provides more insulation and a longer growing season than the Season Extension style greenhouse. Seeds can be started in early spring to later transplant in an outdoor garden. The greenhouse usually remains dormant during the summer because there is no cooling system. You can start cool weather crops such as kale and lettuce in the fall that can be harvested throughout the winter. It can also be used to overwinter tender plants and bulbs. There is typically no heating system in the greenhouse, but the insulated glazing will retain passive solar heat from the sun; this alone can provide sufficient temperatures for hardy plants in most locations. Temperatures are controlled by ventilation using doors, windows, and ridge vents.

Four Season/Year-Round Growing Greenhouses

Thermally Enhanced Aluminum and Insulated Glazing

Four Season/Year-Round Growing Greenhouses This greenhouse is used for growing plants year-round and is suitable for extreme heat or cold. Energy efficiency is greatly improved and allows temperature, humidity, and lighting to be properly controlled. These greenhouses can sustain vegetation through a heat wave or snowstorm. Using the correct accessories will allow any plant to grow in this greenhouse, including bedded plants, orchids, and citrus trees. Outside temperatures and precipitation have little effect on plants in this environment. Fruits and vegetables can be nurtured from seeds, planted in raised beds, and harvested in the midst of a blizzard.

Functional

Hobby Greenhouses

Hobby Greenhouses Hobby greenhouses are perfect for enthusiasts whose collection has outgrown their window sill, but are not ready for a sizable structure.

These greenhouses are designed to meet the needs of entry level gardeners. While 300 plants would overwhelm this type of greenhouse, it is perfect for the gardener who wishes to start a few trays of seedlings in the spring or overwinter potted deck plants.

Hobby greenhouses typically feature simple configurations and only include a door, windows, roof ventilation, and possibly a greenhouse bench. These structures are typically not equipped with motorized accessories.

Propagation Greenhouses

Propagation Greenhouses A propagation greenhouse is a perfect solution for gardeners who usually have plant trays occupying every household window. The addition of a propagation greenhouse—with adequate bench space and a potting area—can lead to a flourishing summer garden.

Temperature, water, and sunlight can easily be monitored and controlled for the cultivation of a variety of seeds.

You can harden the plants in preparation for outdoor transplant at the end of spring. Our greenhouse experts can work with you to make the appropriate accessory selections.

Commercial Greenhouses

Commercial Greenhouses Commercial greenhouses are designed to generate revenue and are tailored to fit specific business needs. They are commonly employed by florists, restaurants, grocery stores, and wineries. These greenhouses are typically used to grow flowers and vegetables in a dining space, or as product display areas.

A business’s requirements determine the design of commercial greenhouses. Styles range from decorative to contemporary while structures and floor plans are designed to suit specific needs. If guests utilize the space, drip and shading systems can be installed to establish an ideal environment for plants and people.

Research Greenhouses

Research Greenhouses Research greenhouses are primarily used in agricultural extension departments, universities, medical research facilities, biotechnology labs, and for commercial agricultural research. They allow for meticulous control over propagation, growth, and the environmental conditions needed for precise experimentation. Multiple zones can be incorporated into the greenhouse, allowing separate research projects in each room. Cross contamination is reduced by incorporating independent zones, and each zone can maintain specific growing conditions and control systems. Temperature, lighting, nutrients, shading, water, and air circulation can be controlled and monitored. Computer monitoring and cell phone updates are available with an environmental control system.

Educational Greenhouses

Educational Greenhouses Educational greenhouses are typically found on college and university campuses. As their popularity grows, many high schools and even primary schools have begun constructing greenhouses as well. Greenhouses are a way to provide students a unique opportunity to study horticulture first hand.

Universities often conduct studies on plant growth, pesticides, and genetics, while vocational schools may propagate plants for landscaping course work. Elementary schools often utilize the greenhouse to expose students to seeding plants and butterfly raising. Most schools choose to implement an environmental control system, which helps plants receive proper care through automated processes. This allows for educators to focus on the lesson rather than the greenhouse and plant maintenance.

Institutional Greenhouses

Institutional Greenhouses Institutional greenhouses are often used by both private and public entities such as clubs, foundations, and retirement communities. Retirement community residents can benefit greatly from the addition of a greenhouse since gardening is seen as a low impact solution to the elderly’s need for physical activity.

Studies have also shown that exposure to the sun’s rays can provide health benefits. A greenhouse allows residents to be exposed to sunlight and the beauty of nature while still being protected from the outside elements.

Dual Function: Plants and People

Dual Function A dual function greenhouse is dedicated to both plants and people. In a dual function greenhouse, growing areas can line the walls or plant groupings can be arranged in to reserve space for other activities. Plant stands and vertical growing—like plants hung from a ring and collar— can maximize growing areas. The greenhouse can incorporate space for entertaining that can be complete with a sitting area and table.

The gardener may also use the room for various leisure activities and is only limited by their imagination. A sitting area provides the ability to enjoy their investment, especially the beauty of flowers and fruits produced by their plants. The two spaces can be proportioned to fulfill the needs of the owner.

Urban Greenhouses

Urban Greenhouses Urban gardening has become popular in the horticultural world. Gardeners are revitalizing abandoned lots, growing vegetables on balconies, and converting small backyards into flower beds. Many people believe greenhouses require a large plot of land, but this is not the case. Urban greenhouses are smaller, well-suited to city spaces, and can produce vast quantities of plants in a controlled, protected environment. Greenhouse locations can include small parks, yards, terraces, balconies, and rooftops.

Garden Windows

Garden Windows Garden windows are similar to small scale greenhouses. They are the perfect solution when space is so limited that there is no site suitable for a full greenhouse.

Raising plants in a garden window is a more economical option if the gardener does not have enough plants for a greenhouse, yet too many for the window sills. The garden window is designed to incorporate ridge vents and operable windows for air circulation and ventilation.

Additional heating and cooling is provided by the home’s existing systems. Garden windows can be much larger than the term suggests. A walk-in garden window can be separated from the home by a door so you are physically able to step inside the unit. Once inside, shelves surround you on three sides. Many gardeners grow several types of plants by adjusting the shelves to accommodate specific plant types. This option is an ideal solution for a gardener who has a small collection of plants.

Atriums

Atrium greenhouses are a blend of traditional construction and greenhouse design, originating in ancient Rome as open air courtyards. Today they are generally enclosed structures with glass roofs, traditional construction framing, and large windows, which create the greenhouse environment.

Atriums Atriums can serve multiple purposes, including dining, entertaining, art, and retail. Many atriums are decorative and follow classic styling. There are often columns lining the traditional walls, finials and ridge cresting adorning the skylight, and grids in the window design. The frame finish of both the skylight and windows can be custom matched to any existing frame.

A custom designed atrium is a great addition to any building plan; many atriums are created from existing sunrooms or from rooms with good solar exposure that can accommodate skylights.

Cold Frames

Cold Frames Cold frames are one of the oldest forms of greenhouses. A cold frame is a small container with a glass lid that houses plants. The cold frame is placed on top of the soil where plants are growing. Cold frames capture solar heat and store it for later use during the night, which allows the plants to survive during cold temperatures.

Seedlings can be started in a cold frame in early spring to get a jump on the season. Then in fall, cold weather crops—such as carrots and kale—can be planted in the cold frame for fresh vegetables into the winter season. Traditional cold frames are constructed out of wood and can rot after several years, requiring more maintenance. Lids can remain open by a manual “hold open bar,” which is weather resistant, and can be added onto a greenhouse’s exterior for increased growing space.

Plant Specific

Citrus Greenhouses

Citrus Greenhouse A citrus greenhouse is a structure where tropical and citrus trees are grown. The original structure was called an orangery, which featured cement or brick walls with windows. Today’s citrus greenhouses are all glass and aluminum. Greeenhouses can be designed for specific growing temperature ranges to foster trees such as oranges, mangoes, papaya, guava, kumquats, and an assortment of other tropical plants. Citrus greenhouses are typically decorative with traditional styles featuring ridge cresting, finials, and grid work. The interior environment is equipped with benches and climate control accessories like heaters, evaporative coolers, humidifiers, and shading, all of which can be automated.

Palm Greenhouses

Palm Greenhouse Growing exotic trees in a greenhouse can be very rewarding. Common selections include palms, citrus, and bonsai. While each tree has different requirements, the basic components are similar, with temperature being the major factor since tropical trees need warmer growing conditions.

Benches raise plants above the floor, provide exposure to circulating air, and allow for easier observation of plant health.

Bonsai Greenhouses

Bonsai Greenhouse Bonsai is an ancient form of art. A bonsai grower may begin their collection in the house, but as their collection grows, they should consider a custom bonsai greenhouse for their plants.

Multiple zones can be constructed to accommodate various growing requirements. A zone can be designed for tropical trees with high temperature and humidity, while the evergreen varieties can have a separate zone with cool temperatures and dormancy hours.

Benches, humidifiers, circulating fans, and shades are available to create a custom bonsai environment for your specific collection.

Orchid Greenhouses

Orchid Greenhouse Raising orchids in a residential setting can be challenging since orchids thrive in humidity above 50 percent. Certain varieties of orchids require high temperatures, humid environments, and frequent watering; these elements do not lend themselves to successful window sill growth.

Temperature, light range, humidity, and water supply can be precisely monitored by an environmental control system. Circulation fans, humidifiers, shades, and irrigation systems are available to create an ideal environment. Accessories can be automated to accommodate specific orchid needs.

Resources

Greenhouse Location Recommendations
Greenhouse Planning Worksheet
Greenhouse Accessories

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