How to Choose the Best Pop Up Greenhouse
The UK climate isn’t renowned for its predictability, and cold temperatures coupled with lots of rainfall can make it difficult to grow plants.
Whilst greenhouses can’t physically bring us more sunny days (sigh!), they do at least allow us to regulate growing conditions for our plants.
Not everyone has space for a permanent greenhouse in their garden, but fortunately pop up greenhouses don’t require a lot of room – and they’re still very effective. They can be set up in small gardens, on patios, balconies, and even inside, to provide extra growing space.
If you’re trying to choose the best pop up greenhouse for your garden, the following information will help you to make an informed decision.
Choosing the Right Size
The pop up greenhouses featured on this page all measure roughly the same size – 70 x 50 x 160 cm. This size tends to be suitable for most gardens, and is also compact enough for balconies and terraces.
These pop up greenhouses will generally fit two seed trays per shelf, or three medium-size plant pots. The small footprint allows these greenhouses to be placed in compact areas up against walls, and the 160 cm height means there’s still plenty of space for taller plants (especially as you can usually remove the shelves).
Of course, there are much larger options available, although these require more space. Walk-in pop up greenhouses have shelves on either side and allow you to stand in the middle. They can be hard to stabilise in bad weather, but it can be done.
One of the best things about pop up greenhouses is that they aren’t permanent structures so can be taken down at any point if they’re in the way.
Material and Structure
Pop up greenhouses usually have a metal frame with a PE or PVC cover. Most come with a stack of metal shelves, these are usually a metal gridto allow water to drain through.
Pop up greenhouses are very lightweight, so the frame is usually made from either tubular steel or aluminium. The frame should be powder coated to prevent rust and weather damage.
Your greenhouse cover should be fully waterproof and UV resistant. Where possible, the cover should extend well below the feet of the greenhouse, so you can weigh it down on windy days. Covers that are too short will allow cold air to get underneath. They may also trap gusts of wind which can cause the greenhouse to blow over.
Most pop up greenhouses don’t have a base, so they can be stood on any garden surface. Ideally, the bottom shelf should be raised a few centimetres from the floor. This means that if your patio or decking floods, your plants should still be safe from water damage.
Easy Access to Plants
It’s important that you’re able to tend to your plants easily. All of the greenhouses on this page have roll up doors, which can be secured at the top using ties. This is a standard design which allows access to every shelf, whether you’re trimming, pruning or watering. Make sure that the door can roll up far enough, otherwise it may interfere with tending the top shelf.
Some pop up greenhouses have “windows” that can be opened for ventilation. These tend to be positioned in the back or side of the greenhouse. Some may have mesh covers that can be pulled over the open windows, ventilating the plants without letting bugs in.
Stability in Windy Conditions
Pop up greenhouses are generally very lightweight, often weighing between 3 – 6 kg.
With this in mind, they are not expected to withstand very strong winds, but there’s still a few things you can do (and look out for) to help keep your greenhouse secure.
To start, you should keep your greenhouse in a sheltered area. Tall, narrow structures like greenhouses are some of the most vulnerable when the wind picks up, so you should ideally keep your greenhouse against the wall of your house to keep it sheltered. This will offer more protection than installing it against a fence.
Some greenhouses have eyelets built into the cover. This can make it easier to attach the greenhouse to a fence or wall, or use ground pegs to secure it into the floor. Some pop up greenhouses come with guy lines and pegs included. In these cases, if your greenhouse is installed on grass, it can be secured down like a tent. This may not do a lot in very gale force winds, but it should stop your greenhouse tipping over if a gust of wind hits it.
With most small pop up greenhouses, you will need to weigh down the bottom in order to keep it stable in windy weather. Unfortunately, this may require sacrificing some shelving space. If your greenhouse has a long cover, you can weigh down the corners of this with bricks or slabs instead of weighing down the shelves. Make sure that the shelf is strong enough, before you start weighing it down with heavy items.
Pop Up Greenhouses FAQs
Do pop up greenhouses work in winter?
Portable greenhouses work, to a certain extent, in any season. The temperature inside the greenhouse is usually a few degrees higher than that of outside. However, on very cold days, you should take steps to protect your plants from frost.
You may need to bring the greenhouse and plants inside if temperatures are below freezing. It’s also worth checking the frost hardiness of your plants before subjecting them to winter in a pop up greenhouse.
Some people opt to add bubble wrap to the cover before the frost hits, giving an extra layer of insulation. You should also try to install your greenhouse in an area that gets some sun, even in winter.
Is it better to have a green or clear greenhouse cover?
A green cover can help cool the greenhouse on very hot days. They can let in up to 90% of natural light, but keep some heat out. These can be useful for keeping plants cooler during a heatwave.
Clear greenhouses allow the most sunlight to reach your plants, but the downside is that they can get very hot.
For the most part, in our UK climate, either colour will be suitable. If you’re growing plants that like more light, there is no harm in buying a clear cover. Regardless of the colour you buy, you should always be keeping an eye on the greenhouse temperature to check if more ventilation is required.
What temperature is too cold for a greenhouse?
While greenhouses are usually a few degrees warmer than outside, if it gets below 0°C outside, your plants may be susceptible to damage.
You should aim to keep the temperature of your greenhouse between 7°C and 21°C. As the temperature warms, you should open air vents or windows to allow your plants fresh air.
What are the benefits of a pop up greenhouse?
Firstly, they’re suitable for smaller gardens. They’re an easy way to create a controlled environment for growing plants, and keeping them protected, when you don’t want a full-size permanent greenhouse. They can also offer supplementary space, even if you do already have a traditional greenhouse as well.
A pop up greenhouse can help extend the growing season, as it’ll stay warmer even when the temperature is lower in the spring and autumn months. It will also help protect from many exterior factors like rain, strong winds, frost and pests.
Finally, pop up greenhouses are easy and quick to assemble – generally in less than 10 minutes. This means they can be put up and taken down as required, packing down small into storage.