Plants You Can Cultivate In A Greenhouse
Not every enthusiastic gardener is lucky enough to have access to a greenhouse. However, if you’ve struck gold and bought a property with a glorious garden and greenhouse, the gardening possibilities are endless. That said, you can purchase robust, aluminium-framed greenhouses from most large garden centres and hardware stores - you can even buy affordable mini canvas greenhouses for smaller plots. Either way, provided you have a suitable patch of land that receives uninterrupted sunlight throughout the day, erecting a greenhouse could be the best gardening decision you ever make.
Here are just a few examples of plants that thrive in greenhouse environments.
One of the primary uses for a greenhouse is seed germination. Delicate seedlings require mild, stable growing conditions for the best possible chance of survival. Therefore, many gardeners choose to boost the welfare of their developing plants by starting them off indoors or, indeed, in a greenhouse. Not only can greenhouses protect seedlings from harsh weather conditions, but they provide a protective barrier between plants and pests such as mice, voles and squirrels - all keen seedling eaters.
Cucumbers enjoy relatively high temperatures above 12–15°C. Due to their hatred of the cold and frost, they are best sown outdoors in late April for harvest from mid-summer to mid-autumn. However, due to unpredictable weather conditions, cucumbers often fare better when grown in greenhouses. Due to the size of cucumber plants, they are perhaps best grown vertically, using a trellis, leaving plenty of room for other plants.
Aubergines or Eggplants are generally cultivated in warmer climates; for example, countries such as India and Egypt, where reliable temperatures above 20°C allow them to thrive. Hence, growing aubergines in a greenhouse may require the use of heaters and humidity controllers for the highest yields. If you provide your aubergine plants with the right conditions, they can be exceptionally easy to grow, particularly when companion planted alongside aromatic herbs like rosemary and marjoram.
Tomatoes and greenhouses are a match made in heaven. Arguably the easiest crops to cultivate in a greenhouse, there are countless tomato varieties from which to choose - from abundant ‘Tumbling Tom Red’ to striking 'Maramande'. Provided your tomatoes have rich, free-draining, moisture-retentive soil and plenty of sunlight, a greenhouse will guarantee you a healthy crop. Additionally, when grown in a greenhouse, tomato plants are less susceptible to blight - a rapidly-spreading fungal disease carried by insects, water and wind.
Okra is another heat-loving crop that thrives in temperatures between 23 and 30°C. While it is more than possible to cultivate okra in a greenhouse or polytunnel kitted out with heaters and humidity controls, you can enjoy increased yields by using indoor grow tents. The beauty of a grow tent is the ability to control conditions down to the finest detail, meaning you can produce a range of warm or cold climate crops at any time of year.
Melons are said to have originated in Africa or the hot valleys of Southwest Asia. As such, they favour tropical climates with temperatures between 18°C and 35 °C. The U.S. is the leading importer of melons worldwide, where they are grown in the warm Southern states of California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia and Florida. In milder countries such as the UK, melons are best grown in a greenhouse or under a glass cloche, where they can receive eight or more hours of direct sunlight.
Chillies are relatively easy to grow and fare well in sunny outdoor spots or on window ledges. However, you can produce a much wider variety of chillies in a greenhouse. Some types prefer warmer, more humid environments, such as habanero and scotch bonnet chillies. The good news for heat lovers is that warm climate chillies tend to be a lot spicier, so if you prefer a milder pepper, opt for varieties like 'Hungarian Black', which thrives in cooler temperatures.
The height of summer is ideal for growing salad greens outdoors. However, if you want access to fresh, home-grown salad all year round, a heated greenhouse or grow tent can provide the ideal growing conditions. Furthermore, you can optimise space by growing salad greens in vertical planters. Either purchase a vertical planting frame from a reputable garden centre or make one yourself using recycled materials such as palettes and plastic tubs.