Whoever wrote “extend your growing season” must have been a philosopher-gardener.
That’s what a greenhouse does. It gives you more time.
Come to think of it, spending time in the garden also gives you time to be philosophical and creative. A greenhouse is a creative way to outwit mother nature. She leaves us no choice – she’s too unpredictable.
Why I got one.
Until I met my wife, I’d never even considered buying a greenhouse. I believed that if plants can’t grow naturally as the creator intended, then it’s not meant to be. Call it survival of the fittest for lack of a better explanation.
It took her delicate touch to open my mind to the options of growing whatever you want, whenever you want, in any weather.
I often saw her take a slice off the base of celery, immerse it in an empty pickle-jar, and ten days later, leaves are popping out. She did the same with sweet potato, avocadoes, lettuce, even a slice of tomato – not just because she loves growing things, but also not to waste, and to be more self-sufficient. The joy of seeing her little plants grow soon turned to sadness. They’d either freeze solid or get scorched to a crisp if the seasons were wrong. And adding insult to injury, the stray cats used her seed trays as a litter box.
For us to keep those little saplings alive and safe, we had to buy a greenhouse.
Now they’re safe, and she can protect her baby avos and the others that grow from scraps of celery, lettuce, sweet potato, and more. All of which started life in a water-filled pickle-jar standing on the windowsill. One day we’ll grow all the veggies we need. She’s already baking bread at home, and the days of seeing her sad are long-gone.
I wonder, when creation began, if El Niño, greenhouse gases, and holes in the ozone were in the creator’s equation in the beginning. For us to survive, we must be able to grow our food even if our weather pattern is so unpredictable, and very often back-to-front.
At least, with the best portable greenhouse, we can outwit mother nature, if only for a little while.
How To Choose The Best Portable Greenhouse
In the next section, you’ll see my review of ten portable greenhouses. None of them cost more than $200, but that doesn’t mean they’re cheap. They’re for a gardener who isn’t growing on a huge scale, ideal for someone who’s just starting or who has a small patio or balcony and wants to get closer to nature. A few on the list can be for more ambitious projects, but an increase in greenhouse size costs much more. A permanent greenhouse might be a better option for you.
One of the things I noticed, while looking for the best portable greenhouse, was that no one said how many square feet you got for every dollar you paid. I was surprised. That’s the first thing we ask ourselves when we rent or buy property, size versus cost. That’s the yard-stick I used to determine the best option for you.
Since they’re pretty similar in structure and have the same fabric, I decided to look at the ‘extras.’ Those features that made your life easier. Things like being able to stand up straight, shelves to organize your plants, the width of the entrance, and similar things.
The questions to ask are:
- How much are you prepared to spend?
- How many plants do you have that need a controlled climate?
- Where to put your greenhouse?
- Can you foresee if you’ll move it anytime soon?
There are cheap ones if you’re starting and want to see if you enjoy it as a hobby and not as a dedicated tulip grower.
If you have many plants that need protection, you’ll need a big one. But will it fit, say on the patio or balcony? Some portable ones are small enough to fit on a corner table inside the house. There are many options.
Know what your plants need to flourish. Is it insulation and warmth, diffused or direct sunlight, all these factors you need to address.
Are you planning to move your greenhouse when the seasons change? If you are, you should buy a small, light one, and vice versa, if you’re not.
Most of the ones I’ve looked at are easy to set over an already growing veggie patch, as long as the ground is level. If not, the steel frame won’t be stable unless you improvise. Here a pop-up, with its flexible base, might be more suitable.
A less expensive one, with hollow-tube steel, the stronger it is, the heavier and harder it will be to move. A light one, on the other hand, would be easy to move but could get damaged by the wind. Ease of assembly and disassembly would also make a difference. All the frames in this analysis are made of steel and cost less, last longer and hold a large expanse of fabric.
The fabric’s color affects temperature. Dark fabric absorbs heat and can warm the air inside, whereas light fabric reflects heat and keeping the air cooler. The size and location of the entrance and air vents regulate temperature too. The hotter the weather, the more vents you’ll need to release the hot air, and vice versa in a cold climate.
Another feature to look at is the insect-screen on the vents and entrance. Bugs and pests can be as destructive as the weather, so why not do a double protection job against both if you can, and saving you the cost of pesticides.
Now you have a better idea of what to look for when you decide to buy a portable greenhouse.
Top 10 Best Portable Greenhouses
|Flower House FHSP300||4.8|
This is the largest greenhouse on the list and the cheapest per square foot. The high-quality frame is powder-coated steel with middle rails from end to end for extra stability. The frame is covered by semi-transparent polyethylene material. It is covered by a reinforced, 100% UV, and waterproof mesh-fabric ensuring that the heat and humidity stay in and can be controlled.
It measures 15 by 7 feet which gives you a very large open floor space of 105 ft2. In addition, it stands 7-foot tall so there’s ample space to grow huge plants or small trees. You can install shelves and really load it up with plants. The front and back have a double zippered entrance for easy access and ventilation. There are 8 windows, 4-a-side, measuring 1.3 by 1.3-foot with insect screens and a roll-up flap. It has an overlong cover that helps you anchor it to the ground with plants or bricks as well as tent lines to stay stable during strong wind.
For the large area, you get with the Gojooasis, at a low cost per square foot, this is the best buy of the lot.
The only one that comes close is the slightly more expensive Quictent.
- Retains heat and humidity
- Withstands snow and hail
- Best value Plenty of ventilation
- Needs more anchors in windy conditions
- Poles not sturdy enough
- Not enough anchor straps
Once again this reputable company has made a high-quality walk-in greenhouse. The heavy-duty powder-coated steel framework also has rails that span its entire length for extra stability. The structure is enclosed by a single piece of semi-transparent reinforced 2-layered polyethylene fabric that’s UV protected and 100% waterproof and won’t rip or degrade easily.
It is 12 feet long and 7 feet wide giving you an open floor space of 84 ft2. Standing 7-foot tall there’s plenty of room for tall plants and small trees to grow. There is an entrance on either end, both of which have double-zippers.
It also has 3 exhaust vents with insect screens, on either side which can be tied with a velcro strip and buckle giving you complete control of setting the humidity, warmth, and ventilation.
Because of its length, it’s advised to position it in such a way that the headwind blows into the side rather than in the entrance, and you should also add extra weights to anchor it further.
Even though it is long and high, it is a simple process erecting it.
- Value for money (needs some DIY innovation to last longer)
- Strong and durable
- Great after-sales service
- Velcro ties are flimsy
- Might not seal completely
- The entrance has to face away from the wind
This portable greenhouse’s best feature is the focus on the details, in particular the shelves. It has a 1-inch high-grade tubular steel frame that’s powder-coated to prevent rust, corrosion, chipping, and peeling. The semi-transparent fabric cover is triple-layered and heat-bonded, as well as UV resistant, waterproof, and less likely to tear. The fabric also serves as an excellent thermal barrier that insulates the heat and humidity.
It measures 8 by 6-foot which gives you an open floor space of 48 ft2. Standing 6.5-foot tall you have more than enough room to fit in big plants and young trees. The integrated double zippered front door is high and wide enough and can be tied up, for easy access and plenty of ventilation. At the back, there is a vent with a roll-up flap and insect screen. On either side of its full 8-foot length, you can roll and tie up the fabric. This will give you more than a foot of ventilation from the ground up. You can also use the fabric as an extra anchor by packing on bricks. Included is integrated 4-foot shelves made from wire-mesh for better drainage and 15-inch auger anchors for stability. It should take 2 people just over an hour to assemble it.
- Integrated shelves
- Bottom side flaps for extra ventilation
- Solid construction
- Sides flap-up even when shut.
- Hard to assemble
- Only two air vents
The rigid walk-in greenhouse is made from heavy-duty powder-coated steel that’s rust and corrosion-resistant. Green polyethylene fabric that’s waterproof and UV resistant fits snugly around the metal frame. This all-weather plant protector has 4 ropes with stakes for extra stability on windy days.
It measures 4.7 by 4.7 feet giving you an open floor space of 22 ft2. It’s 6.4 height makes this very suitable for large plants and gives any gardener plenty of room to work. Ventilation is controlled by the two side vents covered with an insect screen and a flap that you can tie-up. A wide zipper door gives you easy access and can also be tied up.
Included are two tiers of 4 mesh-wire shelves on either side of the greenhouse. It can easily be assembled without tools and it’s perfectly square shape gives you many options to place on your balcony, patio, or garden.
- Air vents with insect screen
- Durable and sturdy
- Easy to assemble
- Includes snug-fitting shelves
- The structure is heavy
- Extra fabric at the base, for anchoring, is very narrow
The Ohuhu large walk-in is a greenhouse that’s made from green and semi-transparent polyethylene. For extra protection, the material is UV resistant and waterproof.
The rustproof and heavy-duty tubes add to durability and strength. It measures 4.5 by 2.5 feet giving you an open floor space of 11 ft2, which makes it small enough to fit on balconies or patios. It’s the tallest on the list, at 7.5-feet, and spacious enough for tall plants to grow and easy for you to stand up tall and straight.
It has three tiers with 6 shelves that are strong enough to carry large pot-plants, seed trays, grow lights, and more. Ventilation, warmth, and humidity, can be regulated by opening the wide front entrance with a zipper, and the two small windows on either side, which are held up with velcro and tie-backs. The two side vents also have an insect screen.
It comes with an 18 lbs weight as well as extra material at the base on which you can pack extra weight in case of extreme wind. You should be able to assemble it in an hour and once you’re done it’s light and small enough to move later. Definitely a good way to protect your plants during extreme weather or bug season.
- Easy to assemble
- Sturdy frame & zipper
- Space for tall plants
- Durability questionable
- Can lose temperature in very cold weather
- Flimsy front flap
This mini walk-in greenhouse gives your plants, flowers, seeds, and herbs that are dearest to you, a cozy space, and will protect them from extreme weather and pests. The UV resistant material is green and semi-transparent polyethylene. Its skeleton is made from high-quality powder-coated tubular steel and is strong and sturdy enough for all seasons. Measuring 4.7 by 2.4 feet it gives you an open floor space of 11.28 ft2. You can place it over existing flower beds without fuss and as it’s over 6-foot high you can comfortably tend to your plants, high or low.
Included are three tiers of 6 wire shelves that can each carry a load of 22 lbs.
The openings are wide zippered roll-up doors on either side for easy access. The disadvantage is that once the entrances are closed there’re aren’t vents to aid air movement. It also has a pretty apex style roof and strong enough to hold a hanging basket. This one would look great on your patio, balcony, deck, or garden. No tools are needed to assemble or dismantle the mini walk-in that can also be folded and stored away in its own bag.
- Durable and sturdy
- Easy assembly
- Has enough height for tall plants
- Shelves add to its value
- No side vents with an insect net
- Not as easy to move as others
- Not enough ventilation
The Sundale walk-in greenhouse has a strong push-fit, powder-coated tubular steel frame enclosed by a thick polyethylene fabric. The waterproof and UV treated material has an extra width of fabric around the base so you can place plants or bricks for extra stability for windy days. Capable of retaining warmth and humidity in all kinds of weather it will give your plants a fighting chance during cold or hot months.
It is square-shaped, measuring 4.7 by 4.7 feet giving you an open floor space of 22 ft2. Standing tall at 6.5 feet there’s ample room for tall plants, small trees, and for you to move about unhindered. Included are eight useful wire-mesh shelves of 2 tiers on either side.
There is a door that you can zip open or shut, and roll up for easy access and ventilation. But there aren’t air vents on the sides for ventilation when the entrance is shut. It can be assembled without the use of tools and is light enough to carry once standing.
- Tall enough for little trees
- Holds warmth and humidity well
- Easy access
- No-tool easy assembly
- Hard to snap rods into connectors
- No air vents except at entrances
- A bit flimsy for rough weather
The Mellcom walk-in greenhouse’s heavy-duty steel and powder-coated frame is enclosed by heavy-duty transparent, reinforced polyethylene material. The semi-transparent white fabric is strong enough to hold a weight of 22 lbs. Support rods on the base, ropes, ground stakes and extra fabric at the base to pack on extra weight gives it extra stability.
It measures 4.7 by 2.5 feet giving you a floor space of 11.75 ft2. Its 6.4-foot height allows room for tall plants and you have enough space to move around freely. The wide entrance can be zipped open and tied up for extra ventilation. Having additional vents would have been a good idea for when the entrance is shut. The included 2-tier wire-mesh shelves can carry a load of 33 lbs each. You do not need tools to assemble and once up it is light enough to move.
- Included shelf
- Sturdy and lightweight
- Control harsh sunlight
- Protects from hail and snow
- High cost per square foot
- Base material too narrow
- No side vents for extra air
This semi-transparent low profile greenhouse has a powder-coated steel frame with horizontal supports. The fabric covering it is mesh-grid polyethylene that’s been UV treated and is water-resistant. It measures 5.9 by 3 feet giving you an open floor space of 17 ft2. It’s only 3 feet tall but because of its angular roof design, it’s easy to access your plants without stepping inside.
You’re able to unzip and roll up the 2 front sections which give your plants up to 50% ventilation. The low cross-bars make it no hassle to easily step in if you must.
Its low profile is perfect for very windy parts of the country and with the added fabric around the base, you can weigh it down for extra stability. This mini greenhouse is perfect for smaller gardens, patios, or balconies.
- Low profile great in windy areas
- Plenty of ventilation
- Can place over existing plants
- Thick fabric that can handle the harsh sun
- The zip has issues
- Assembly can be difficult
- Rods don’t fit into the sockets
Made from PVC gro-tec material, this greenhouse lets in diffused light, about 75%, and ideal for young and delicate plants. It is 100% waterproof, UV resistant, durable, and less likely to rip. This almost square-shaped greenhouse is strong enough to promote and maintain humidity levels and seals shut completely. It will definitely keep malicious bugs out.
You have the option to choose a transparent one if you want maximum light penetration. It’s a lightweight structure that’s easy to set-up, take-down or move. Of all of the portable greenhouses available, this one is the fastest and easiest to set up – similar to a pop-up tent. The strong and flexible carbon rods, specifically designed to keep the material in place can take plenty of punishment from the weather. Once you’ve staked it down and attached the ropes for extra stability it will stay anchored in all kinds of weather.
Measuring 6.5 by 6 feet it gives you a large floor space of 39 ft2. An open bottom makes it possible to set it up over plants already in the ground even if the terrain is uneven. The two screen doors let you regulate ventilation. They can be rolled up and tied back with velcro straps or zipped-down to maintain warmth and humidity. There’s ample height, 6 feet, for you to put in some shelves and work without feeling cramped. The greenhouse also has a separate opening for a water hose and power cord.
- Durable in extreme weather
- Pop-up assembly
- Electric cord and water hose access
- Seals well
- No air vents but the entrance
- No hard frame
- Unstable in the wind
How do I choose the best site for my greenhouse?
You need water, but that doesn’t mean you have to erect your greenhouse next to the tap, you could lay a cheap irrigation pipe as far as you like. The same applies to electricity. Run an outdoor extension cord to wherever you need power.
Take note of the sun’s movements and where it casts shadows and whether you want shade or not for your plants. Your greenhouse’s exposure to snow, sleet, hail, heavy rains, or harsh sunlight are factors to weigh-up too. Your big threat is wind.
To counter strong winds, anchor your greenhouse well, even if you have to use ropes as you would a tent when you’re out camping. Look for possible stress points on the fabric and bolster it with duct tape. Spray some silicone spray on the zippers, making them easier to use and less likely to tear the fabric. The more proactive you are to protect your investment, a few ‘tweaks’ here and there is worth the effort.
Set up the greenhouse close to where you get extra soil, fertilizer, gardening tools, and so forth. It makes a difference to your workload and motivation. The same applies if you plan to transplant from the greenhouse into the open. If so, you should place it close to that area, so it’s easy to do or buy a wheelbarrow.
You should also make sure your greenhouse isn’t standing on a dry-river bed – humor me – and gets washed away in heavy rain. What I mean is, does the ground retain water in puddles and pools or run-off. You don’t want to be trudging through mud in gumboots to get to it unless you’re in a rice-paddy.
Apart from harsh weather, what else does a greenhouse do for me?
It gives you the ability to create and control an environment that’s optimum for plant growth. The temperature, air-flow, and humidity are yours to adjust as you see fit.
A greenhouse does more than ‘manipulate’ the weather to your advantage. It keeps out snakes, rodents, birds, bugs, and plant diseases. You can be more organic, without the need for pesticides or rodent bait, and grow wholesome, healthier produce, and save money.
A rather good return of investment wouldn’t you say?
In the end, it boils down to how serious you are about this, not as specialized as before, aspect of gardening. You could research the pros and cons of a greenhouse for years if you want with all the information and advice available. But for someone doing it for starters, this is all you need to know.
Owning a greenhouse is not rocket science, but it can be if that’s what rocks your world. The choice is yours. You can become a botanist and get into it on a very deep level, or you can have fun planting and digging in and around your new greenhouse in a world of your own.
Maybe, all you want is impress your nosey neighbors, let them think you’re a gardening guru if that’s your thing.
Jokes aside, our climate has become erratic and extreme, our young and tender plants are suffering. When they’re sprouting their first leaves, sinking their delicate roots, they’re at their most vulnerable. The best portable greenhouse protects them and gives them a boost in the early part of their lives.
It helps them flourish into healthy and strong adult plants.
They’ll reward you for your efforts by producing succulent vegetables and fruit, or beautiful flowers and herbs.
They’ll make you feel like a proud and satisfied parent.
Only a gardener who has watched their little seeds grow into huge, beautiful plants could understand the feeling!
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