Greenhouses come in many shapes and sizes, from the miniature that is just big enough for one or two plants to grand glass houses for any number of plants. This makes greenhouse growing accessible for anyone, even if all you have is a balcony. But how do greenhouses work, and what are the benefits of having one?
Plants grown in greenhouses grow faster, have more and bigger foliage and provide more flowers or fruit. Basically, greenhouses provide ideal conditions for many plants, taking out a lot of the uncertainty that comes with outdoor growing and giving them a more stable start in life.
Lots of Light
Greenhouses are usually mostly made from glass, which gives your plants an all-around light supply. While you might think they get this in the outdoors as well, it’s not necessarily true. Fences, trees or buildings can all cause shady patches in gardens. By placing your greenhouse in the sunniest spot, you are giving your plants the best chance to survive.
Plants are sensitive to temperature – particularly plants which provide fruit or flowers. If these plants are outside, then the extremes of temperature can cause growth to slow or even stop. Having plants in the protected environment of a greenhouse evens this out, particularly if you use a greenhouse heater. These can be set up with a temperature control and timer to give your plants the ideal environment for growth and cropping.
No, we’re not talking about environmental issues, just about plants’ need for carbon dioxide. In the great outdoors, plants have access to enough carbon dioxide, but in a greenhouse there is a more concentrated level of the gases. By using carefully placed fans to move the air inside the greenhouse down against the plants’ leaves, you can give them the best chance at photosynthesis – which means more leaves, more flowers and more growth.
Plants that are in a greenhouse are planted in containers, which means that you can control the earth that they draw their nutrients from. By eliminating this source of pests (like borers and slugs), bacteria and fungi, you’re giving your plants the best chance to be free from disease.
The other vital thing for plants is water. It’s not just to the roots, as a humid environment gives their leaves the best chance to breathe (or foliage transpiration if you want to get technical). In an enclosed environment like a greenhouse, you can control humidity. It’s also easier to give plants a steady stream of water to their roots by using a watering system or capillary matting.
Greenhouses are a great way to provide your plants with everything they need – a stable environment with warmth, light and moisture to help them grow. If you have space for one, it will pay you back not just in crops but also in the peace and satisfaction of growing your own.