How Does a Greenhouse Work?

5 min read

For those who live in a climate unfavorable to year-around gardening, a greenhouse is a solution. A greenhouse helps stimulate plant growth. A greenhouse also lets you grow plants that might not survive in a non-controlled environment. Understanding the workings of a greenhouse can help you get the most of yours.

Here is some information you can learn as you read on:

* Features of a greenhouse
* A greenhouse traps heat and light
* Greenhouse heaters
* Use shade cloth
* Controlling the humidity
* Gardening has four seasons
* The challenges of greenhouse gardening

Features of a Greenhouse

Greenhouses are readily available in a host of different sizes, anything from a cold frame to full-size work-in structures. Greenhouses can be fitted with electricity, lighting, shelving, and more.

Each amenity allows you to use your greenhouse to the fullest extent. Lighting allows you to work on cuttings, plant seeds, and take care of other basic gardening chores. When choosing your greenhouse, consider the things you want. Knowing this makes it easy to select a greenhouse that suits your every need.

A Greenhouse Traps Heat and Light

To grow and thrive, a plant requires light, and the right temperature and humidity, as well as water, and nutrients. Depending on what plants you are growing, there are different requirements for each of these necessities. A well-designed greenhouse provides light and controlled temperature and humidity. Water and nutrients are up to you to provide.

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The ideal temperature in a greenhouse is about 80 0r 85 degrees F. Keeping the temperature steady is something that you have to learn. During the day, the greenhouse takes full advantage of solar energy. Think of getting in your car on a sunny day. A greenhouse is the same. Depending on the day, the temperature can reach 100 degrees F. As such, you must have a way to regulate the temperature. If the temperature is too hight, for too long, your plants may stress, and perhaps even perish.

All greenhouses are complete with top or side vents. Although a system of manual vents is less costly, automatic vents are available. Automatic vents employ a temperature sensor that activates the vents.

Proper ventilation is essential. On warm days, prop the door open. If you have a cold frame instead of a greenhouse, prop the lid open. It is also a good idea to use fans in the greenhouse to keep the air moving.

Greenhouse Heaters

To further allow you to moderate the interior climate of your greenhouse, you may wish to consider a heater. There are numerous heaters available, the most common of which is a conventional space heater, the same as you might use in your home. Space heaters are economical and can be stored during the warm months. There are two practical electrical options. Electric overhead heaters and ceramic heaters, both of which are powerful and efficient.

Use Shade Cloth

Shade cloth is available on rolls. The traditional color is green, although it is available in other dark colors. Once installed, shade cloth can be rolled down, similar to a window shade. By rolling the shade cloth up or leaving it down, you can easily adjust and control the interior temperature as well as the light level in the greenhouse. During the hot summer, shade cloth can help to cool the interior temperature, as well as moderate the light level. During the winter months, roll the shade cloth up, allowing the maximum amount of light to enter the greenhouse.

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Controlling the Humidity

Unless your hobby is raising cacti, then the humidity in your greenhouse is important and is beneficial, especially to tropical plant varieties. The proper humidity level is about 50 percent or even a little higher. To increase the humidity in the greenhouse, place the plants on trays which have been filled with pebbles. Fill the trays with water, covering the pebble bed. As the water evaporates, the humidity increases. As an alternate, place stone or marble chips on the greenhouse floor. Just dampen them on very dry days.

Gardening Has Four Seasons

When you place a greenhouse in your yard, you can enjoy four full seasons of gardening. There are a few hints on how to use a greenhouse during each growing season.

Spring: The greenhouse is the ideal place to sow seeds. The ideal place to germinate seeds is in a tray of growing medium. As the seeds germinate and the seedlings become visible, transplant them into more suitable containers. Keep your tender seedlings in the greenhouse until there is no further threat of frost.

Summer: The summer is the ideal time to start your fall flowers and perenials.

Fall: A greenhouse allows you to keep “ahead of the game.” During the fall, start holiday plants such as amaryllis bulbs. The greenhouse is an ideal place to force your Christmas Cactus into blooming. Houseplants that have outgrown the window sills in the house can be transferred to the greenhouse.

Winter: During the winter you can grow hardy vegetables in the greenhouse. It is the ideal place to protect tender herbs and annuals that you want to save. Geraniums can prosper in the greenhouse all winter long.

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The Challenges of Greenhouse Gardening

Having access to your greenhouse certainly provides growing advantages. However, there are also some challenges associated with growing plants in a greenhouse. The greenhouse is protected from the element, thus allowing avid gardeners to extend the time they can work with their plants. As the plants are indoors, natural insect predators are reduced, perhaps even eliminated. If there is an infestation of insects in the greenhouse, you are providing the harmful bugs with shelter and a ready source of food. The same holds true with fungus and mold. Mildew, mold, and other viruses take readily to the warm, moist conditions. It is extremely important that you ensure excellent air circulation and maintain a sharp eye for any early evidence of unwanted pests or plant diseases. Although these may be bothersome, it is all part of operating a successful greenhouse environment.

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