If you love plants and love to garden, you’ve probably thought about getting an indoor greenhouse. Perhaps you’re not sure if it would be worth the trouble or the expense, or just don’t know enough about them to make the decision to buy one. In this article, I’ll cover some of the uses and advantages of having an indoor greenhouse, as well as helpful tips for success if you do decide to purchase one.
An indoor greenhouse is multi-functional
Gardeners use indoor greenhouses to over-winter their tender perennial plants until the weather is warm enough for them to go back outside. Most plants can be dug up and potted in a container to bring inside. Since replacing these plants can be quite costly, this technique will pay for your purchase in no time.
You can grow greens all year long indoors! Think how great it would be to serve a Thanksgiving salad with fresh lettuce you picked just that morning, or a healthy dish of lightly steamed Swiss chard, kale or spinach.
If you like to cook, indoor greenhouse-growing is a must. Fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano, basil and rosemary can be grown inside all year long, and you can snip what you need and let the plant continue to grow.
Exotic tropical plants like orchids do better indoors when they are in a greenhouse. The regulated humidity, temperature and light is more to their liking, and they’ll reward you by blooming more often and profusely. Many other flowering and foliage plants also grow bigger and faster under greenhouse lighting rather than relying on the sun.
An indoor greenhouse extends your growing season by allowing you to start seeds and nurture the seedlings weeks before it would be warm enough for them to survive outside. When they’re ready to go into the garden, you will have robust, healthy plants that have gotten off to a great start in your greenhouse, without the dangers of insects, critters or frost to threaten their survival.
Indoor greenhouse-growing is not just for the home. It can be a great learning tool for school classrooms. A greenhouse also makes an interesting conversation starter in an office, reception area or small business shop.
Helpful tips for greenhouse success
Some features you should consider for your enclosed greenhouse include: shelving for starting seedlings or displaying vining plants, or for exotic plants requiring higher intensity lighting; built-in fluorescent lighting, which provides proper light intensity and spectrum for maximum plant growth; sliding panels of distortion-free, tempered safety glass to provide easy access, ventilation and humidity control; an automatic 24-hour light control makes an ideal “plant sitter” for weekends and vacations; automatic heat control keeps the soil temperature ideal, spreads warmth evenly and prevents “hot spots”; built-in reservoirs provide storage of water for up to a month and allows drainage from root beds in the event of overwatering; a built-in auxiliary fan provides quiet, efficient air circulation for even greater propagation of flowering plants; moisture sensors indicate when to add water.
When using fluorescent lights you will learn by experience and observation what’s the appropriate brightness for your plants. They will tell you if there has too much light by their stunted growth, lots of pigmentation in the leaves, and stiff, hard leaves are all warning signs.
A greenhouse doesn’t have to be a complicated affair or a free-standing enclosed unit to be useful. It can be something as simple as a florescent lights mounted on two- or three-tier shelves. With some ordinary shelving material, wall mounts, brackets and pine boards, you can build a “greenhouse” in no time at all. This lighting system can replace good sun exposure, so garages basements, or spare bedrooms can all be used for an economical, easy way to garden indoors. The only additional item you might want is a small fan. Plants develop stronger stems if they have some air movement and the circulation helps to prevent plant diseases. Misting the plants daily with a spray bottle will provide supplemental humidity.
If you’re an avid gardener, an indoor greenhouse will be a great addition to the supplies and equipment you need to make your hobby even more enjoyable!