The Best Greenhouse

07-11-2019    19:29   |    Chicago Tribune

Growing plants can be a complex business, especially when the weather won't cooperate. Greenhouses provide you with a warm, sheltered spot to extend your growing season or start seedlings before they can survive out in the elements. If you have the space and the budget, a greenhouse is every avid gardener's friend.

 Read this guide to learn how to pick the best greenhouse. Palram's Nature Series Hybrid Hobby Greenhouse is our favorite model due to its durability and light-diffusing panels that keep you from burning delicate plants. 

Considerations when choosing greenhouses 

Frame material 

While you can still find a handful of greenhouses with wooden frames, the majority of new greenhouses either have aluminum or steel frames. Steel is extremely strong and fairly inexpensive, but it's heavy and can corrode over time, even when galvanized or powder coated. Aluminum is lightweight and won't rust or corrode, but it isn't as strong as steel and therefore requires more pieces to maintain structural integrity, so more shadows are thrown inside the greenhouse.  

Pane or cover material 

Greenhouses traditionally had glass panes, and while they're still used today, polycarbonate is becoming a more popular pane material. Glass is fragile, so it's fairly easy for panes to break and need replacing over time. On the other hand, polycarbonate is tough and likely to last the lifetime of your greenhouse. It's worth noting that polycarbonate doesn't let through as much light as glass, so it's not the best choice for light-loving plants, but it can be beneficial for plants prone to burning. That said, your average plant will grow just fine in a polycarbonate greenhouse. There are also inexpensive greenhouses with flexible plastic covers rather than panes. These aren't especially durable but work okay if you're on a budget. 


Roof vents 

Greenhouses often have roof vents to let in some air and release some moisture if it becomes too hot and humid for the plants in your greenhouse. 

Interior shelving 

Some greenhouses include tiered shelving that may either be built-in or freestanding. This gives you more space for plants, compost, pots, and tools. 


Double-walled polycarbonate provides better insulation than single-walled polycarbonate or glass. This helps with heat retention inside the greenhouse, which is useful on chilly nights. 


You can pay anywhere from $30 to $60 for a mini greenhouse up to $10,000 or more for an extra-large grower greenhouse. A mid-sized glass or polycarbonate plastic option costs between $700 and $2,000. 


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Photo Courtesy of Chicago Tribune

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