What accessories do I really need is a question I get asked a lot by people when they purchase a new greenhouse. They don’t want to get things they don’t need, but they want to be sure they have everything they need to make their greenhouse function properly. Here are a few suggestions I have. Keep in mind that you may not need all these accessories and you may find others that are necessary depending on your weather and what plants you are growing.
Greenhouse heaters are a necessity for most of the United States growing area. Maybe greenhouse gardeners in Florida or California and a few other areas can do without a heater, but most others will need one. Make sure that your heater is safe to use in a greenhouse. Do not use an unvented one if you are using a natural gas or propane heater. There are also a lot of other ideas out there about how to heat your greenhouse, but a heater is the best way to keep it at a guaranteed temperature. Although if you are in a cooler climate where you don’t need a lot of heat one good idea is a roll of bubble wrap to enclose the inside of your greenhouse. It isn’t fool proof, but it will help.
A ventilation system is pretty much a necessity for most greenhouses. Even if you are only using your greenhouse to start plants in the spring, some days it is just too hot for them. A basic ventilation system consists of a fan, shutter(s), and a thermostat. You set them to come on when your greenhouse reaches a certain temperature, and they will start to pull the warm air out of the greenhouse at that temperature. You do not need to set them at a very cool temperature. I have always kept mine at 90 degrees F. This is plenty to keep most plants growing unless you are growing plants that require consistently cool temperatures.
Benches are not needed by everyone. If they are growing large plants in large pots, you probably don’t need them, but the rest of us do. I suggest getting a bench under 4′ wide as benches any larger than that are hard to reach across and properly care for your plants in the back. The wider ones are however great for the center of a greenhouse where you can reach both sides of the bench. Another choice is the material the benches are made out of. From wood planks on cement bricks to fiberglass benches there are many choices available.
Shade cloth is pretty much a necessity for any greenhouse. It will help to keep the sun from burning your plants. There is a knitted, a woven and a reflective shade cloth available. These will help to keep the greenhouse cool and comfortable for your plants. The woven must be taped to keep the edges from ripping when it is cut. The knitted will not ravel. The reflective can be used inside or outside of the greenhouse. Also, there are different shade percentages available. Most will block somewhere between 50% and 75% of the sun. You should choose this based on your needs.
Circulation fans are a much-needed accessory. They reduce heat stress and improve air quality. Only one needed for a small greenhouse that is up to 30′ wide and 60′ long. Place the fan in an upper corner of the greenhouse.
A greenhouse thermometer is a handy tool to make sure your temperatures are where they should be. A box over the top and the sides of the thermometer will keep it from getting heated up from the sun shining in the greenhouse.
Grow lights may be necessary for your greenhouse, especially from late fall through early spring when there is less natural light. These assure that your plants will receive the proper amount of lighting to grow and maintain their size. There are many types of lights available so be sure to study these and choose them for your needs. There are fluorescent lights, HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lights and LED lights.
Roof Vent Openers
Roof vent openers are a must for greenhouses with roof vents. These open the roof vents automatically when the greenhouse reaches a certain temperature. They also close when it gets cool outside. They eliminate the need to run inside and outside to open your roof vents.
Propagation mats are a nice add on, especially if you are starting your plants in the winter. They help keep seedlings at a constant temperature to help them grow.
Watering systems will help keep your plants moist. I set mine to water for an appropriate amount of time each day. Be sure to get an automatic timer to it with.
A potting bench is a nice addition to a greenhouse. They can be used to store additional pots and many other things. Some even have a drawer for additional storage.
Some people choose to use cold frames in their greenhouse. They offer an additional layer of protection and can be used to start plants in colder temperatures.
Most other accessories can be added when they are needed, as they will not be an integral part of the building. Whatever greenhouse you choose be sure to pick your accessories with a keen eye. They will save you and your plants in the long run. Invest a few extra dollars to keep things healthy in your building.
Tammy Wylie is the owner of AdvanceGreenhouses.com. She has been building greenhouses since 1993 and enjoys helping others to achieve their goals in building a greenhouse for many years to come.