The Ins and Outs of Greenhouse Gardening: What Plants to Grow and How to Get Started

Greenhouse gardens offer many benefits, such as protection against pests and hazardous weather conditions.

Rayna Skiver - Author

Jun. 19 2024, Updated 10:31 a.m. ET

A very clearly see-through mid-size greenhouse surrounded by grass and other plants.
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Whether you're an experienced green thumb or a garden newbie, there are a surprising number of gardening techniques to try. Between raised beds and hydroponics, the possibilities are truly endless.

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Greenhouse gardening is just one of the many beloved methods, thanks to all of the great advantages it offers. To learn how to start your own greenhouse, the best plants to grow, and more, keep reading.

How to get started greenhouse gardening:

Various gardening supplies like seed containers, soil, a small shovel, gloves, and a watering can on a wooden deck or table.
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Starting a greenhouse can be overwhelming, especially for those new to gardening — there’s just so much you need to know. Luckily, we’re here to help.

To kick off your greenhouse gardening journey, you need to determine factors such as size, space, and building materials. The size will depend on your budget, how much space you have available, and, of course, how much you want to grow.

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When it comes to what your greenhouse is constructed from, it’s important to consider the climate you live in. For example, greenhouse gardens made from wood are more likely to rot in areas with high humidity, according to Home Depot. However, those made with PVC pipes, aluminum, or galvanized steel are considered stronger and longer lasting.

Once you’ve decided on your greenhouse’s construction or materials, it’s time to get started on the inside. You will need all the basic gardening supplies: soil, seed trays, seeds, pots, a hand trowel, and a watering can (or a type of watering system).

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Open windows in a backyard garden greenhouse surrounded by flowering trees.
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On top of that, ventilation, sanitation supplies, a drainage system, artificial lighting, shade cloths, heaters, and a thermometer are all vital to your greenhouse's success, according to Gardening Know How. Shelving is also a must.

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After you have everything you need, you can choose what types of plants you want to grow. Consider your climate, the available space, how much sunlight the greenhouse receives, what plants grow well together, and how much time you want to allocate to gardening.

Can I grow in a greenhouse all year?

A long greenhouse covered in snow and frost in the winter.
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Yes, it’s possible to grow in a greenhouse year-round. Although, it’s important to note that it will be easier for some and more challenging for others, depending on the local climate.

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Your greenhouse must be durable and temperature-controlled to grow year-round, according to Mother Earth News. In colder climates, you have to take extra measures to ensure that your plants are in an environment where they can thrive — sometimes, this means adding heating or cooling elements.

However, you don’t always need a heater. Plants like broccoli, carrots, peas, and potatoes can tolerate cold temperatures, which eliminates the need for supplemental heating. It’s all about strategy!

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What plants and vegetables grow best in a greenhouse?

Close up of a gloved hand planting rosemary cuttings in biodegradable seed containers.
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Leafy greens like cabbage, kale, and Swiss chard are all great winter crops to grow in your greenhouse, according to Epic Gardening. These vegetables love a cool environment. During the warm season, plants like cucumbers and peppers are great options.

If you don’t want to grow any vegetables, you can always try your hand at some decorative plants. Ornamentals like African violets, orchids, and hibiscus are all gorgeous and perfectly suitable for a greenhouse.

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