How to Use a Greenhouse

Gardenerdy Staff Nov 4, 2018
Greenhouses provide an environment for growing plants in a sheltered and protected manner. They help to replicate climatic conditions required to grow certain plants. Know how greenhouses can be used to achieve optimal plant growth.
A greenhouse is a glass or plastic structure used to grow flowers, vegetables, and fruits, and to pollinate them in the appropriate climatic conditions. The walls are heated using solar radiation from the sun to warm the plants, soil, and other things inside the structure.
A greenhouse allows one to alter the conditions to suit the plants' growth, instead of choosing the plants to suit the conditions.

Effective Uses

Greenhouse gardening can add a completely new dimension to cultivating and growing varied and profitable plants. The use depends on individual requirement, and the time and effort one is willing to put in. Given are some ways one can use a greenhouse.

Early Seeding

As the climatic environment within the greenhouse can be altered and temperature can be controlled, it is possible to sow seeds of seasonal flowers and fruits in advance to speed up the bearing.
This is particularly useful in cold climates, where it is necessary for the seeds to germinate and grow into healthy and sturdy seedlings before transplanting them. Commercial cultivators use greenhouses to sow seeds in order to have their produce (saplings) ready for the market in time.

Sheltered Growing

Greenhouses are commonly seen in places where the winter is harsh and the summer is short. They provide an easy and resourceful way for growing plants and vegetables.
One can grow plants in different sizes of containers filled with rich humus soil. The young plants will grow and provide a better yield when protected from temperature variations and annoying pests. A greenhouse will allow you to grow fresh produce throughout the winter without pesticides or any medicines for ripening.

Propagation

Greenhouses are used to propagate plants for commercial sale or create hybrids to replicate the features of 2 or more plants. Many plants are genetically altered here by cutting, grafting and air or soil layering.
Propagating and cultivating attractive, hardy, and pest-free plants for commercial use has turned many small-time cultivators into a unified, thriving industry.
The Southern Spain's Almeria province is a great example of how a greenhouse has turned this once arid landscape into a prosperous community.

Xeriscape and Hydroponic Growing

A greenhouse is the ideal environment to grow different kinds of plants to suit different places. Individually or combined, xeriscape and hydroponic gardens, help balance out the water needs. Xeriscape gardening involves plants that are drought-resistant, or need very little water to facilitate their growth. They require some good moisture-retaining soil.
Hydroponic gardening, on the other hand, has plants that are water-intensive, and a good access to water is required to grow them.

Growing Herbs and Exotic Plants

The rise of the alternative therapy industry, like aromatherapy, and the growth of the spa culture, has seen many cultivators grow herbs and exotic plants in greenhouses, where growing them organically can be controlled.
Long-stemmed roses, carnations, and other bulbous exotic lilies like irises, freesias, tulips, and orchids yield good returns for greenhouse growers. Even growing fruit trees like avocado, lemon, orange, or banana trees can be managed in a more efficient manner.

Important Pointers

While greenhouses can effectively grow and solve many problems associated with growing plants in different climatic conditions, the following should be kept in mind to ensure smooth functioning.

Water

Water is essential to all plant life. As the greenhouse works on the technique of trapping and building moisture within its structure, regular watering or even overwatering is not required.
However, it is not recommended to completely ignore watering the plants. Individual plants have different water requirements, especially in the peak summer. Using a moisture gauge to check moisture and humidity levels in order to determine watering needs will ensure adequate water supply to the plants.

Temperature Control

Temperature in a greenhouse needs to be regulated as per the surroundings, as it uses sunlight to harness heat. During summer, the doors should be left open, while during winter, doors should be shut, so that the trapped moisture does not escape.
A good ventilation system should be in place to ensure circulation of air and moisture. Invest in a good thermometer to gauge the temperature within the structure.

Pest Control

Pests are a major factor for ruining many greenhouses. While bringing in plants from outside, check them thoroughly for pests and diseases.
If even one plant has a disease, it will spread it to others as well, since pests and diseases thrive mostly in humid climate. Keep treating the greenhouse to prevent diseases. When using bugs or bees for pollination, make sure you trap and move them out once the pollination process is done.
Using a greenhouse is easy. It is best to have an expert look into the requirements for big commercial greenhouses, but for the small ones just ensuring moisture, temperature, and pest control will yield good results.