Tons of small factors that can get overlooked while buying your first portable greenhouse. Check out our buying guide with expert-vetted recommendations.
The #1 thing I missed when I moved from my family home was having my own garden. Living in the city has a lot of advantages, but it’s challenging finding the space to grow your own vegetables, especially when you move from one place to another.
That’s why I was so relieved when I discovered portable greenhouses. I immediately ordered one for myself. A portable greenhouse makes life much more convenient. Now, I was able to change homes and take my veggies with me.
But it wasn’t all roses. With so many portable greenhouses out there, I struggled to decide on the best one for my needs. I still remember the hours I spent pouring over different manufacturer websites and learning about all the portable greenhouse differences.
So, I decided to spare you the trouble and bring you a complete guide to everything you should know about a portable greenhouse. I’ll also include all of my tips and tricks for owning and operating a greenhouse.
My first thought once I learned there are different kinds of portable greenhouses: Aren’t they all the same? The answer turned out to be: no, not at all.
You can choose between five kinds of portable greenhouses. Here’s what you should know about each one.
It’s easy to move around because it’s lightweight. It usually has 3 or 4 shelves on which you put your plants in pots. Some mini greenhouses have adjustable shelves — you can move them up or down, which is convenient for storing taller plants.
Portable mini greenhouses can be:
Mini portable greenhouses are usually 2 to 6 feet tall, and they have an opening that you can roll up and down and close with a zipper.
They are easy to set up. In most cases, you won’t need any tools. They are made of clear polyethylene and iron tubing, so you don’t have to worry about rust and corrosion if you place it outside.
Pro Tip: Mini greenhouses are usually lightweight, so you may need to weigh them down on windy days if you place them outdoors.
A portable walk-in greenhouse can be placed inside or outside, and apart from storing plants, you can have room to store your gardening tools, gloves, seeds, and more.
These portable greenhouses have unfinished bottoms, so you’ll be walking on whatever you place it on — grass, concrete, etc.
This greenhouse usually comes with stakes, and it’s easy to assemble. In most cases, it’s done by snapping into place. It’s lightweight, so once you take out your plants, you won’t have any issue moving it around.
You can use this greenhouse to cover flower beds, bushes, even small trees from frost.
Pro Tip: If you place it on concrete, you’ll have to find a way to keep it secure in windy weather. If you put it on grass, you can stake it down.
It can also be used in colder seasons to protect your garden from frost — just place it above the plants.
A portable tunnel greenhouse comes with either one or two doors. My advice is to go for two doors because this gives better ventilation.
It won’t be as easy to move around as mini and portable walk-in greenhouses because it’s heavier. It’s also larger. It ranges from 12 to 20 feet long, 7 to 12 feet wide, and 6 to 7 feet tall.
It’s also easy to set up, although you may need one other person with you to put on the cover. The reason why it’s heavier is because the frame is made of heavy-duty powder-coated steel. It comes with stakes, so you can weigh it down easily.
It weighs between 45 to 75 pounds, which means you’ll probably be able to move it around your property, but it won’t be convenient to move when relocating homes.
However, its main advantage is that it’s sturdy and resembles a traditional greenhouse the most. It has a door with a door latch, vents, gutters and can be locked.
I like that a compact greenhouse doesn’t use plastic sheeting for the cover but UV-resistant polycarbonate sheets and a frame made of aluminum.
Usually, a compact greenhouse is wind resistant up to 12 miles per hour, but you may need to stake it down if you live in an area with storms.
Its main advantage compared to the above greenhouses is that it’s sturdier, and you can control the inside conditions much better.
Although it’s sturdy and made of heavy material, it’s easy to move — simply roll it along.
However, you’ll need more room for this one.
If you opt for this greenhouse, you can also make it on your own. Buy a portable greenhouse, install a floor, then add wheels, and you’re all set.
Portable greenhouse on wheels offer you the highest level of flexibility and freedom.
Here are my top reasons why everyone should own a portable greenhouse.
With a portable greenhouse, you won’t have to limit yourself to eating only the produce that’s in season. You can grow your favorite veggies throughout the year.
A portable greenhouse is easy to move. If your plants like more sun, simply move it to a sunnier place in your home or property to ensure it has the optimal conditions to grow.
A portable greenhouse is the answer if you want to extend the growing season or cultivate a plant all year long.
This one goes hand in hand with growing plants all year long.
You can grow peas, kale, lettuce, and many other vegetables yourself, which will significantly reduce how much money you shell out for groceries.
You’ll also be saving money on gas, as you don’t have to drive to the grocery store. Just walk into your portable greenhouse and get the veggies you need for your salad.
Not to mention, this is also better for the environment.
I LOVE orchids. However, it took me years before I learned how to grow and take care of them successfully, and one of the things that helped a lot was a greenhouse.
Orchids are extremely temperature-sensitive. They aren’t used to colder seasons, and they love humid conditions.
I was able to recreate a perfect environment for orchids in my portable mini greenhouse, so they flourished even during the freezing winter months.
Of course, you can also grow other sensitive plants — I also grow key lime, mandarin orange, both of which don’t do well in freezing temperatures. Or, you can move the greenhouse from outdoors to indoors if your plants love warmer temperatures.
I grew up watching my mom religiously checking the weather forecast once autumn starts and throwing old sheets, blankets, and cloths over plants.
I found an easier solution to keep the plants safe from frost — a small greenhouse.
Most greenhouses don’t have flooring, so placing them over plants or low-lying flower beds is easy.
Once the frost is over, I simply remove it, and my plants are safe.
I’m talking from personal experience, as someone who moved several times in the last couple of years. I was able to take my portable greenhouse with me.
If you have to relocate because of job requirements, family, or other reasons, a portable greenhouse can come with you, especially a mini one.
You’ll be saving up a ton of time, as you won’t have to set up a new garden every time you move. And, you won’t have to leave it behind and abandon all the effort you’ve put into growing your garden.
I’ve already mentioned how growing your own veggies will save you money. But, it also means you’ll be independent.
In case of a natural disaster or a global pandemic, which we all saw is a scenario that can easily happen, you won’t have to go out and mix with other people.
You can grow a lot of the food you need on your own and be safe knowing you won’t starve.
Portable greenhouses come in different sizes, and there are many small greenhouse variations. This means, even if you don’t have a huge yard, you can still have a greenhouse.
Small portable greenhouses are usually vertical, and they have shelves on which you can put your plants and a zippered door that you can roll up or down.
You can place them on a patio, balcony, even on a table if you go for a tabletop greenhouse. This is also convenient if you live in a small space. You can move a portable greenhouse out of the way when needed.
Because they are so small, they are lightweight, and you can move them around your home or take them with you when you move homes.
When choosing the material, you have to think about the structure and the siding material.
A portable greenhouse usually has:
There are two most common types of siding material:
Weight is connected to the material your pop up greenhouse is made out of.
A plastic siding greenhouse will be much lighter and thus easier to move than a glass one. Metal frames will also be lighter than wood, especially lightweight metal frames. Wooden frames and glass-paneled walls look better but are also heavier.
For reference, a compact greenhouse usually weighs between 45 to 75 pounds. A portable mini greenhouse will weigh much less, but a greenhouse on wheels will weigh more.
I’ve already talked about types of portable greenhouses, but here’s a little round-up:
When choosing the type of greenhouse, the most important thing is to consider how much space you have for it.
Even if you don’t have any outdoor space, you can get a greenhouse. Go for a pop-up one or a tabletop, which can be placed both inside or outside.
You can also get a greenhouse that can be placed on a balcony or a patio if you’re spatially challenged.
Size is also related to how much space you have for a greenhouse. Whether you have a balcony, a city patio, or a backyard, you can find a greenhouse in the appropriate size for it.
Most portable greenhouses are less than 6 feet tall, and a compact greenhouse is about 10 square feet. Of course, if you go for a tabletop version, it’ll be much smaller than this.
It’s a good idea to measure how much space you have before buying an outdoor greenhouse or a portable indoor greenhouse.
Pro Tip: Think about what plants you’ll be placing in the greenhouse before deciding on the size. If you plan to bring the greenhouse inside once it gets colder, consider how much space you have indoors.
Even a portable mini greenhouse can have shelves.
The greenhouse shelves usually match the frame, so the material can be wood, metal, or plastic.
Some greenhouses have fixed shelves, while others have adjustable shelves, which allows you to maximize space and store plants of different sizes.
Pro Tip: Shelves can create issues if you want to store seedlings. This is because upper shelves can create too much shade, so the seedlings won’t get enough sunlight.
Portable greenhouses come in different kits.
It can be as elaborate as a site-built gazebo or as simple as a box of plants and hardware.
If you decide to buy a greenhouse kit, I recommend buying the entire kit, not only the frame. Check that the kit comes with the cover. A portable greenhouse kit is lightweight and compact. A lot of them are similar to a tent and have flexible rods, so it’s easy to set up.
As for the materials, most kits come with the materials I’ve mentioned above — Steel or aluminum frames, plastic sheets, and a roof made of PVC waterproof canopy.
You’ll get everything you need to set up your portable greenhouse in a greenhouse kit. This is a great option if you’re just starting a nursery or a gardening hobby.
The best portable greenhouse kit should have:
If you can, you should place your portable greenhouse near a water source.
Greenhouses have a roof, and plants growing under a roof can’t get water when it rains. Your greenhouse plants will be entirely dependent on you to provide enough water on a regular basis.
This is why you should place the greenhouse close to a water source, so it’ll be easier for you to get water.
Once the temperature drops, you may have to use a heater, depending on which plants you grow. In this case, you should place the greenhouse near a power source, so you can have a safe supply of electricity.
An extension cord is often an easy solution, but consider how safe it is. If needed, consult with an electrician, or have them install a power source in your greenhouse.
Don’t disregard the importance of lighting. Even though a clear greenhouse will be exposed to direct sunlight, days are shorter in winter, and if you live in a cloudy area, the plants will have even less light.
Moreover, it won’t be easy for you to see the plants clearly in low light conditions. This is why you may need additional lighting.
Some higher-end portable greenhouses may come with lightning installed. If not, you can buy growing lights for your seedlings or install LED lights over the plants.
Ventilation is crucial for temperature and humidity control.
Many portable mini greenhouses have a zippered door. It can get very hot inside a greenhouse, especially in summer. You should leave the zippered or roll-up doors or windows open to maximize airflow.
If you opt for a tunnel greenhouse, go for one with two doors, as this provides better ventilation.
Make sure your mini, compact, or large greenhouse has at least one good opening that can serve as ventilation.
The greenhouse also has a good solar performance, and it can trap heat inside, which will help extend the growing season.
The ventilation it provides is excellent because it has two doors that can be opened simultaneously. This also gives you easy access to plants.
My favorite part is that it has an overlong cover. This makes sure the greenhouse is fully enclosed and tethered, and you can stack stones on it to keep it even more stable in windy weather.
Why Do I Like It?
I like it because the cover is removable. I can take it off in hot summer months, put some frame with chicken wire to keep the pests out, and put the cover back in colder months.
Even though this is a large structure, you’ll find it’s incredibly stable. It has three rows of crossbars on the top. These stop snow and water from accumulating. The ground frame uses U-type stakes and helps obstruct the wind.
The cover is two layers thick and has reinforcement mesh molded into it. It will keep the plants safe in all weather conditions. It’s also transparent, so it lets in 85% sunlight. Because the cover is extended, it will give excellent closure while providing humidity for the plants.
Why Do I Like It?
I like that it comes with a great warranty. There’s a lifetime warranty for connectors, bases, and stakes, a 1-year warranty for poles, and a 6-month warranty for the cover.
The greenhouse can be used both indoors and outdoors. You can keep it in the backyard, patio, even a basement garage. If you decide to keep it outside, the PVC cover will protect the plants from frost and pests.
This greenhouse can be used in all seasons. It comes with rope and anchors for extra stability in windy conditions. Shelves come with zip ties, which keep them in place, and they can’t be turned over.
Why Do I Like It?
I like that the shelves are removable, which gives me options for growing plants, seedlings, herbs, and more. I also like that it can be used all year long — just add a heater for colder months.
The entrance is a zippered roll-up, so it’s easy to get inside or close the greenhouse. It comes with loops that connect the cover to the frame and hold up the door. This also provides excellent ventilation.
Finally, the frame is made of a heavy-duty powder-coated metal tube frame. It’s rust-resistant, and it comes with connectors, which go through the frame and extend the greenhouse lifespan.
Why Do I Like It?
I like that the clear cover lets the plants have enough solar energy. It even makes the greenhouse warmer, which extends the growing season.
It’s durable and can withstand all weather conditions. It has a high-quality plastic cover, rust-resistant tube frames, strong guy ropes, and rugged stakes. All of these contribute to sound insulation and a stable structure, which will last for several seasons.
It has a roll-up entrance and three-screen windows on each side. These will allow you to optimize heat, humidity, and airflow. It’s easy to make adjustments — just zip or unzip the windows or the door as needed. Best of all, don’t worry about pests. They can’t come in because the windows have Velcro window cover.
Why Do I Like It?
I like that the manufacturer provided everything for a firm installation, and they provided complimentary ground staples and gloves to make the installation easy.
While it isn’t the largest greenhouse on this list, it does provide adequate space inside. It helps that it comes with shelves that maximize the space, which you can use for plants or storage.
Although this greenhouse technically has three sides, it’s still very durable. It comes with 4 ropes and 4 stakes to secure it and prevent falling or being blown over in the wind. The ground nail and guyline give it stability.
Why Do I Like It?
I love how easy this is to assemble. The plastic connectors are easy to set up in less than half an hour, without any tools.
It has a clear PVC cover that lets in sunlight and protects the plants from pests for a good growing environment.
It also comes with 4-tires of shelves, which can hold up to 24lbs. I found it works best for starting seeds on trays, and it can fit many racks of starter seeds. Because it keeps the moisture in, it has slow evaporation, so you won’t have to water your seedlings very often.
Why Do I Like It?
I like that it’s perfect for growing seedlings. It provides ideal growing conditions, and the shelves can be moved as needed.
When deciding on the best portable greenhouse, think about how much space you have. This will probably determine the size of your greenhouse.
Also, consider other factors, such as what’s included in the greenhouse kit, what material it is made of, how much lightning it will have, and so on.
My choice #1 is the Eagle Pick Mini Garden Portable Greenhouse. This will do wonders if you need a portable greenhouse for winter or something to keep the plants safe in summer.
It’s non-toxic and odorless, so you don’t have to fear it’ll release gases for weeks once you install it.
It’ll also provide good ventilation because it has two doors. Best of all, the cover is overlong, so it’s easy to make it even more secure for windy conditions.
But, if you’re looking for something larger, check out the Quictent Upgraded 20’x10’x7’ portable greenhouse. The ventilation it has is unparalleled, and the two layers thick cover has mesh reinforcement, which will always keep the plants safe.
Finally, it has an amazing warranty, so you can shop with peace of mind.
Check them out, and find a home for your plants today.