For amateur gardeners and professional growers a greenhouse is a really useful and sometimes essential component for growing different crops. A greenhouse allows the gardener to choose a wider variety of plants than would be grown outdoors and the growing season can be extended. One of the most difficult dilemmas when choosing a greenhouse is which one to buy. A greenhouse is an investment, so it is important to buy one on the basis of how you will use it and what your needs are. Understanding the different types available is key to knowing what your options are.
Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes, so no matter what your budget or amount of available space, you should be able to find something to suit your requirements. A cold frame is one of the simplest greenhouse structures. It basically consists of a glass box or container with a lid that can be placed anywhere outside. Some cold frames can be set into the ground. There are usually no heating or cooling systems in a cold frame and they are best suited to getting hardy, spring crops on the go or for over-wintering plants.
Structures similar to cold frames which do have a heating source installed are known as hot beds. A hot bed is used to get early spring plants growing.
For the novice gardener a starter greenhouse is usually an ideal choice. A starter greenhouse is a glass structure of small or medium size, used for propagating seeds that will be later transferred outdoors. Many starter greenhouses are also used for storing gardening tools or as a potting shed. Frames can be made from wood, steel, aluminium or plastic.
If space does not allow for a starter greenhouse then vertical framed structures with a plastic cover have become very popular in recent times. Available in different sizes these offer an alternative option for those on a budget or who may only want to cultivate a handful of plants.
For more avid gardeners a grower greenhouse may be preferable. These are larger structures with adjustable shelving inside. Used for all purposes, the grower greenhouse is suited for both propagating seeds for outdoor growing later on as well as keeping plants inside for the entire season. A grower greenhouse tends to be larger than a starter greenhouse. For those with even larger amounts of land or who make a living from selling crops, a polytunnel is a large, domed structure, where serious plant growing can take place.
Where reduced light levels and some shade are beneficial to plants, a shade house may be ideal. A shade house is most often used for cultivating cut flowers, nursery stock and foliage flowers. It consists of a covered fabric or material that is designed to partially exclude light.
Greenhouse types can also be differentiated by temperature level. A hot house greenhouse has a temperature range at around 65 degrees and is ideal for growing exotic or tropical plants. A warm greenhouse is suitable for growing plants that you would normally grow outdoors with a stable temperature of around 50 degrees. A cool greenhouse is considered the ideal nursery greenhouse, where you can get seeds and young plants growing. It has a stable temperature of approximately 40 degrees.