What is a Patio Greenhouse?

Kaitlyn N. Watkins

Gardeners who have limited space for growing plants often turn to patio greenhouses to extend their growing season. A patio greenhouse is a temporary, usually portable, greenhouse that has a much smaller footprint than a permanent greenhouse. Usually made from plastics or other lightweight material, a patio greenhouse can be broken down after the growing season and reused year after year. Patio greenhouses are not as sturdy as a traditional greenhouse. They can transition new plants outdoors and give added protection from pests.

Those who prefer the temporary, portable nature of a patio greenhouse but need more space may be interested in a hoop greenhouse.
Those who prefer the temporary, portable nature of a patio greenhouse but need more space may be interested in a hoop greenhouse.

A patio greenhouse might be a pop-up flower house, a portable cold frame, or a miniature greenhouse. A patio greenhouse usually only has room for a few racks of seedlings or large plants. A full-size greenhouse is often large enough for an adult to stand up and walk around inside, but a patio greenhouse is much smaller. Pop-up flower houses are small tent-like coverings for containers and flower pots, protecting plants from late freezes. Cold-frame greenhouses are basically raised beds with a lid and drainage through the bottom. Many three- or four-tiered patio greenhouse kits are made with lightweight metal frames and clear plastic coverings with zippers or snaps for access to plants.

Early in the growing season, seeds started indoors have to go through a “hardening off” period during which young plants are slowly brought outside to become accustomed to the elements. Patio greenhouses are an easy way to protect the new plants from cold temperatures or winds while allowing them to adjust to the sun’s rays. Increased protection from insects and animals is also a useful function of a patio greenhouse. While not as resilient in a heavy storm or harsh weather, a patio greenhouse is fairly inexpensive and easy to find in stores. If one becomes damaged in a storm, it is usually easy to replace coverings or entire kits.

In very hot weather, shade cloths can be used on a patio greenhouse to shelter sensitive plants from the heat. The moisture level in a plastic-covered patio greenhouse is often high enough to reduce watering chores as well. Due to the lightweight nature of most patio greenhouses, they are easy to move to sunny or shady locations throughout the day or season as necessary. Some patio greenhouses have wheeled bases and can be moved indoors to a sunny window in extremely cold temperatures or during heavy storms.

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Discussion Comments


@heavanet- I have started seeds in a patio greenhouse before, but only after the threat of frost had passed in my area. Unless you live in a warm climate with an early growing season, using a patio greenhouse might not work for certain plants that need several months to produce.

However, when it comes to plants that don't require a long growing season, such as greens and herbs, or those that aren't too delicate to withstand the cold, such as onions, a patio greenhouse makes an ideal germination spot.


Has anyone ever used a patio greenhouse to start young plants from seed? Sometimes this is difficult to do inside of a house because there isn't always enough sun.

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