How to Make the Most of Your Greenhouse

Once you've purchased your perfect greenhouse, it's essential to make the most of it.

Created by Robert Hall on Wednesday, 19th of August, 2015.


And that means growing a wide variety of plants over a large part of the year, if not all the year round. 

Make sure that the greenhouse is well planned and equipped . If you want to achieve maximum efficiency and enjoyment, such items as staging and a potting bench, heating, insulation and shading aren't optional extras. See our blog 'Greenhouse Accessories' for all your options.

Even a cool greenhouse in which the temperature is kept at say 5C can earn its keep by providing a winter haven for plants such as geraniums and fuchsias but if you provide more heat (see 'How to Heat a Greenhouse'), there are many more possibilities.

And not only will a warm greenhouse support the a wider range of flowering plants and vegetables, you will be able to make an earlier start in the spring with seedlings and cuttings.

Grow Your Own

Tomatoes are probably the most common greenhouse crop, they can be either grown in bags or a border that has been prepared with plenty of organic matter. Sown in February or March, plant out when the first flower truss appears. The atmosphere should be warm and dry with good ventilation. When the first fruit has set ,start to feed with a high potash fertiliser. Pinch out any side shoots and the tops when the plant reaches the top of its supporting cane.

There are many other crops worth considering: Capsicums and Aubergines can be grown in the same way as tomatoes, spaced about 1½ ft apart in the border. Chillies, whether your taste is for the mild or the red hot Naga Morich should be sown from January to April at a temperature of 25C - 30C so will really benefit from a heated propagator (see How to Propagate Plants) and then planted out.

Lettuce, sown from August to October in a heated greenhouse (approx 15C) will be available to eat all the way through the winter. Cucumbers need 18C – 21C and humidity but can be grown equally successfully, as can Grapes if the temperature is maintained at a steady 15C from March onwards.

Flowering Plants

You may prefer to concentrate on flowering plants such as Carnations that can be propagated from softwood cuttings and grown in containers or a border, Chrysanthemums, Cyclamen, Begonias or Gloxinias, there is really no limit on the
variety of plants you can grow and, when the danger of frost has passed, no heat is necessary – just care, attention and a good liquid feed.

All these plants require slightly different climatic conditions in which to thrive and there are various day to day routines that should be followed to enable successful cultivation.

  • Plants dislike irregular watering, for example tomatoes will suffer blossom end rot, an automatic watering system will supply a constant or regulated amount of water to your plants that is particularly useful if you go on holiday (see 'Hozelock Automatic Watering Guide'). Remember it is best to give most greenhouse plants a regular soaking rather than little and often.
  • Constant watering will leach compost of their nutrients, so it is vital that plants are fed with with a seaweed or animal manure based liquid feed particularly when they are fruiting. Different species require separate feeding regimes at various times of the year, so refer to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Ventilate the greenhouse, don't let it overheat. Louvres near ground level are used to allow in cool air that will then heat up and rise, exiting through top ventilators, thus providing an effective throughput of air. On very hot days, opening the doors, as well as the windows, is as good as anything. Check out the different types of manual and automatic ventilators that open and close according to temperature.
  • If your plants desire humidity, damp down any path and mist. If necessary separate the humidity loving plants from the others with fleece or clear barrier.
  • On very sunny days you may need to employ blinds or shading that can be applied to the glazing and will easily rub off.
  • During the winter fit insulating bubble wrap on the windows to keep the heat in and the frost out.
  • Make sure that the temperature is kept steady with no great leaps or falls, a minimum/maximum thermometer is therefore useful.

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