How Does a Greenhouse Work?

In gardens, we often see veggie patches and flower beds, and among these, we can usually spot a greenhouse.

If you ever ask what is a greenhouse, you’ll find out they are a gardener’s best friend, no matter what you are growing.

They are a structure filled with glass or plastic panels, which allows lots of light in while stopping heat from exiting. A greenhouse offers the chance for gardeners to control the environment for their plants to grow in most weathers.

outside the greenhouse

In our guide, you find out how do greenhouses work and the different elements they change to make the area better for your plants.

By the end, you’ll see how a greenhouse can be a great addition to your garden area for use in or out of season. (Find the Best Garden Towers)

How Does a Greenhouse Work to Help Plants Grow?


Sufficient warmth and humidity and light aid plant growth. A greenhouse helps stabilize your growing environment as they can buffering outside temperatures and keep the extreme cold away from your plants.

A greenhouse creates an artificial environment, where plants will be forced to grow, regardless of the harsh outside climate.

All greenhouses operate on the simple physical principle we know as “the greenhouse effect”.

Here you can see how greenhouses work using the greenhouse effect.

Light Enters

To provide light, greenhouses need a way for light to enter. It is this reason greenhouses are made of translucent materials, like glass or plastic, to provide plants inside maximum sunlight.

Heat Is Absorbed

Once light enters through the glass of your greenhouse, it gets absorbed by plants, the ground, or anything else inside. Here, it converts into infrared energy or in simple terms, heat. The darker surfaces are, the more energy they absorb.

Trap Heat

As soon as this conversion takes place, and light energy changes to heat. It changes the shape of the waves from those as light energy. Here, such wavelengths can’t escape from your greenhouse very easy.

Greenhouse Warming

Trapped heat warms the inside the greenhouse, and since a greenhouse is air-tight, warmer air remains inside and thus raising the temperature.

Keeping Warm

With a sufficient amount of light, the temperature inside a greenhouse will be higher than those outdoors. You may need to ventilate the greenhouse to stop plants overheating.


With these light areas and warm temperatures, it offers the right conditions for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is where plants take carbon dioxide from the air and energy from sunlight to produce simple sugars. They can then use these as food.

Plants need around six hours of sunlight per day.

Do Greenhouses Work in Winter?

While you understand how to use a greenhouse, you’ll often wonder if they work in winter?

No matter where you live, you can find you have no reason to pack-up in the colder months, and you can extend your growing season. (Read Are Slugs Good for Gardens)

Because you offer a controlled and consistent environment inside your greenhouse, you can keep growing in the winter. You do need to take some steps to do this as you can see here.

Winterize Your Greenhouse

For greenhouse growers, the “winterizing” process is routine. You will need to clean out any organic materials in your greenhouse. Scrubbing and disinfecting also help.

While doing this, check any area that has moving parts such as opening windows for ventilation.

Pick Your Crops

Growing through winter does need plants that can take advantage of reduced light levels. A greenhouse can reduce the effects of cold weather and frost, yet there are limits.

Pick hardy root vegetables and leafy greens. Spinach, collards, as well as carrots among other cool-season crops, are ideal.

Light Properly

You can’t grow anything in the dark. And, it’s this reason many crops struggle as sunlight levels reduces. Growing cold-tolerant crops can make use of this reduced growth cycle.

Controlling Heat & Humidity

Once it’s cold outside, this can begin creeping inside your greenhouse, and you do need to heat them. They trap heat, yet the sun’s heat may not be enough to maintain vegetables at this time of year. You may need an additional heating system to prevent this shortfall in warmth.

Harvest the Right Way

New winter growers’ common mistake is to treat the winter harvest as a harvest in spring or summer. Regular grow periods throughout the year might result in one huge harvest. It can be the same crop over a short period.

Winter harvests need spreading out and will cover the entire winter season. It results in you being smart about your scheduling and harvesting when should. Do this, and you can allow plants to regrow and harvest a second time.

Many winter growers plan beds in rows to harvest in turn and enable the first-harvest rows to re-grow as other rows are coming ready to harvest.

Following this, the cycle your fresh veggies are harvested could result in lower yields, yet they will grow until spring.

Grow till Spring

When you keep your greenhouse productive through the winter, no matter your climate, you can keep all your flowers or growing plants for your garden and produce through the winter until the spring season arrives.

Once you use a greenhouse, year-round growing is feasible and possible.

What are the Disadvantages of a Greenhouse?

A greenhouse can offer you the chance of plant growth when you thought it wasn’t possible. However, greenhouses do have a couple of disadvantages.

  • Greenhouses can be expensive
  • They can be expensive to heat to get the right atmosphere and temperature in winter
  • A green house requires continual monitoring and maintenance
  • They can increase electrical and water bills
  • Greenhouses can impact the aesthetic appeal of your garden in some instances

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How Does a Greenhouse Work

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