Preparing Your Greenhouse for Plant Protection in Winter

As winter approaches, it is essential to prepare your greenhouse to protect your plants from the cold weather. By following the necessary steps, you can create a favorable environment for your plants and ensure their health throughout the winter season. The following tasks will help you get your greenhouse ready for winter.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

  • Preparing your greenhouse is crucial for protecting your plants during winter.
  • Choose between a hot greenhouse for summer plants or a cold greenhouse for cold-season plants.
  • Clean your greenhouse thoroughly to prevent pests and diseases.
  • Inspect and fix any cracks or gaps in the structure.
  • Prepare the soil in garden beds by removing debris and adding worms.

Choosing the Right Method for Winter Gardening

Before you start preparing your greenhouse for winter, it’s important to determine the type of growing conditions you need to provide for your plants. This decision depends on whether you want to continue growing your regular “summer plants” or opt for cold-season plants. Let’s explore the differences between a hot greenhouse and a cold greenhouse, so you can make an informed choice.

Hot Greenhouse

A hot greenhouse is ideal for growing plants that thrive in warm temperatures. With the right conditions, you can continue cultivating your favorite summer plants throughout the winter. However, it’s important to note that hot greenhouses require more attention and maintenance compared to a cold greenhouse.

In a hot greenhouse, you’ll need to maintain a higher temperature range, typically between 60°F (15°C) and 85°F (29°C), to meet the heat requirements of your plants. Providing proper lighting is also crucial for the growth and development of your plants in a hot greenhouse.

Cold Greenhouse

A cold greenhouse is suitable for growing cold-season plants that can withstand lower temperatures. This option allows you to explore a variety of winter vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Cold greenhouses require less energy consumption and maintenance compared to hot greenhouses since they rely on natural sunlight and minimal heating.

In a cold greenhouse, the temperature range can be lower, typically between 40°F (4°C) and 60°F (15°C), depending on the specific plants you choose to grow. Cold greenhouses are a great option if you’re looking for a more low-maintenance approach to winter gardening.

Choosing the Right Method

The decision between a hot greenhouse and a cold greenhouse depends on your gardening goals, the type of plants you want to cultivate, and the level of effort and resources you’re willing to invest. Consider your local climate, available space, and the specific requirements of your chosen plants. This will help you determine the best method for winter gardening in your greenhouse.

Next, we’ll dive into the necessary steps to prepare your greenhouse for winter, ensuring the best conditions for your chosen method of winter gardening.

Hot Greenhouse Cold Greenhouse
Maintain higher temperatures (60°F-85°F) Lower temperature range (40°F-60°F)
Requires additional heating Rely on natural sunlight and minimal heating
Best for summer plants Best for cold-season plants
Requires proper lighting Less concern for lighting requirements

Thoroughly Cleaning Your Greenhouse

Fall is the perfect time to give your greenhouse a thorough cleaning to ensure a healthy environment for your plants during winter. By removing plants, debris, and disinfecting equipment, you can prevent the spread of pests and diseases, providing a clean slate for your winter gardening endeavors.

Start by removing all plants from the structure and emptying out every pot. This allows you to inspect the plants for any signs of pests or diseases that could potentially harm your other plants. Additionally, it creates space for cleaning and disinfecting the equipment and benches.

Clean the equipment and benches using a scrub with cleaner and disinfectant to eliminate any pests or pathogens that may be present. It is crucial to pay special attention to cleaning the greenhouse glazings and frames. This ensures that enough sunlight reaches your plants during the winter months, promoting healthy growth and development.

Tips for Cleaning Your Greenhouse:

  • Use soapy water or a vinegar-baking soda solution when cleaning the greenhouse. These are effective and safe options that won’t harm your plants or the environment.
  • Avoid using ammonia- or alcohol-based products on polycarbonate glazing, as they can cause damage.
  • Dispose of any plant debris properly to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect your equipment to prolong its lifespan and maintain optimal functionality.

“The cleanliness of your greenhouse plays a crucial role in the health and productivity of your plants. By thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting your greenhouse, you are setting the stage for a successful winter gardening season.”

By taking the time to thoroughly clean your greenhouse, you are creating a clean and healthy environment for your plants to thrive during winter. This step, along with the other preparations discussed in this guide, will help ensure the success of your winter gardening endeavors. Now that your greenhouse is clean and ready, it’s time to move on to the next steps of preparing your greenhouse for winter.

Fixing Holes and Ensuring Structural Integrity

Inspecting and repairing any holes, cracks, or gaps in your greenhouse is essential to maintain its structural integrity and protect your plants from the harsh winter weather. Even the smallest openings can allow cold air, snow, and pests to enter, compromising the warmth and security of your greenhouse environment.

Table: Common Greenhouse Repairs

Issue Solution
Holes in glazing Apply adhesive patches or use silicone caulk to seal the holes.
Cracks in frame Repair with a suitable adhesive or reinforce with metal brackets.
Gaps around doors and windows Use weatherstripping or a sealant to close the gaps tightly.

In addition to repairing existing damages, it’s also important to reinforce vulnerable areas that may be prone to deterioration over time. Take a proactive approach by applying sealant or reinforcing materials to prevent future issues.

Regularly check that all windows and doors can close securely, ensuring a tight seal that prevents cold drafts from entering your greenhouse. Pay attention to any damaged covering materials or panels, as they may need to be replaced to maintain proper insulation and protection.

Pro Tip: Inspecting After Storms

“After severe weather conditions, such as heavy snowfall or high winds, thoroughly inspect your greenhouse for any new damages. Promptly address any issues to prevent further structural compromise.”

By investing the time and effort to fix holes and ensure the structural integrity of your greenhouse, you can create a sturdy and reliable environment for your plants to thrive during the winter months.

Preparing the Soil in Garden Beds

Proper soil preparation is essential for winter gardening in your greenhouse. Start by removing any dead plants and plant debris from your garden beds. This will help prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Ensure that the soil is clear of any remaining roots or weeds that can compete with your winter crops for nutrients and water.

Next, it’s time to add some beneficial organisms to your soil. Consider introducing worms to your garden beds. Worms help improve soil aeration and drainage while breaking down organic matter, resulting in nutrient-rich soil for your plants. They also create channels that allow plant roots to penetrate deeper into the soil.

Benefits of Adding Worms to Garden Beds
Enhances soil aeration and drainage
Breaks down organic matter, releasing nutrients
Improves soil structure, making it easier for roots to grow

To introduce worms to your garden beds, you can either purchase them from a local garden center or relocate them from your outdoor garden. Dig small holes in your garden beds and place the worms inside, covering them gently with soil. Over time, they will work their magic and improve the overall health of your soil.

Soil Preparation in Garden Beds

Key Points:

  • Remove dead plants and debris from garden beds to prevent the spread of pests and diseases.
  • Add worms to improve soil aeration, drainage, and nutrient content.
  • Introduce worms by purchasing them or relocating them from your outdoor garden.

Getting Your Heating System Ready

Ensuring that your greenhouse has a properly functioning heating system is essential for maintaining the ideal temperature for your plants during the winter season. Before the cold weather arrives, take the time to inspect your heater and make any necessary repairs or adjustments.

If you already have a heater in place, start by checking for any signs of wear and tear. Look for cracks, leaks, or malfunctioning parts. It’s crucial to address these issues before winter to avoid potential heating problems when you need your heater the most.

If your current heater is beyond repair, or if you don’t have one yet, consider investing in a backup electric heater. This will provide an additional source of heat in case your main heater fails. Choose a heater with enough power to adequately warm your greenhouse, taking into account the size and insulation of your structure.

Remember, maintaining a consistent and optimal temperature is crucial for the health and growth of your plants. By properly maintaining and preparing your heating system, you can create a suitable environment for your plants to thrive during the cold winter months.

greenhouse heating

Table: Pros and Cons of Different Heating Options

Heating Option Pros Cons
Gas Heater – Efficient and cost-effective
– Provides consistent heat
– Requires a constant supply of gas
– Requires ventilation for safety
Electric Heater – Easy to install and use
– No need for ventilation
– Can be expensive to run
– May not provide as much heat as other options
Biomass Heater – Environmentally friendly
– Can be cost-effective
– Requires a constant supply of biomass fuel
– May require more maintenance

Table: Pros and Cons of Different Heating Options

Implementing Unpowered Heating Methods

In addition to a heating system, you can use unpowered heating aids to absorb and retain heat in your greenhouse. These methods can provide some extra warmth, especially for cold-season plants.

Heat Retaining Aids

One effective method is to use heat retaining aids such as lava rocks or black barrels. These items have the ability to absorb heat during the day and release it at night, providing a natural source of warmth for your plants. Place lava rocks or black barrels strategically in your greenhouse to maximize their heat-retaining properties.

“Using lava rocks in my greenhouse has been a game-changer. They absorb the sun’s heat during the day and release it at night, helping to maintain a more stable temperature for my plants. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to provide extra warmth during the winter months.” – Greenhouse enthusiast

Assessing Your Needs

When deciding whether to implement unpowered heating methods, consider the specific needs of your greenhouse and plants. Evaluate the temperature requirements of the plants you are cultivating and determine if the existing heating system is sufficient. Unpowered heating methods can complement your heating system and provide additional warmth, but they may not be as effective as a dedicated heater.

By implementing unpowered heating methods, you can enhance the warmth in your greenhouse and create a more favorable environment for your plants during the winter months.

Heat Retaining Aids Benefits
Lava rocks Absorb and release heat, providing additional warmth
Black barrels Retain heat and help maintain a stable temperature

heat retaining aids

Enhancing Insulation for Improved Heat Retention

One of the key aspects of preparing your greenhouse for winter is ensuring proper insulation. By enhancing insulation, you can create a more stable environment for your plants and reduce heating costs. Here are some important steps to consider:

Repairing Cracks

Inspect your greenhouse for any cracks or gaps that can let in cold air. Use heat-retaining silicone caulk or duct tape to seal these openings. Pay particular attention to areas where the glazing meets the frame, as this is a common spot for air leaks. By repairing cracks, you can prevent heat loss and maintain a more consistent temperature inside the greenhouse.

Installing Energy Curtains

An energy curtain is a great addition to your greenhouse for improved insulation. It acts as an additional barrier to reduce heat transfer and divide the space, allowing you to create different climate zones if needed. Energy curtains are typically made of thermal materials that reflect heat back into the greenhouse. Install them along the sides or ceiling of your greenhouse for maximum efficiency.

Using energy curtains can help you save energy and maintain a more stable temperature inside your greenhouse throughout the winter. It also provides better control over the different microclimates you may want to create for different types of plants.

By enhancing insulation through crack repairs and installing energy curtains, you can ensure better heat retention in your greenhouse, creating a more favorable environment for your plants during the winter months.

Insulation Enhancement Methods Benefits
Repairing cracks and gaps – Prevents heat loss
– Maintains a consistent temperature
– Reduces energy costs
Installing energy curtains – Adds an extra insulation layer
– Divides greenhouse into climate zones
– Saves energy

greenhouse insulation

Insulation is crucial for maintaining a warm and stable environment in your greenhouse during winter. By repairing cracks and installing energy curtains, you can significantly enhance heat retention and minimize heat loss. This ensures that your plants have the optimal conditions they need to thrive throughout the colder months.

Ensuring Healthy Airflow for Winter Plants

Proper ventilation is essential for maintaining the health of your plants during the winter months. While it may be more challenging to achieve in freezing temperatures, ensuring healthy airflow is crucial in preventing the development of diseases and promoting optimal growth. Here are some tips to help you maintain a fresh and steady stream of air in your greenhouse.

Implementing a Ventilation System

Installing a proper ventilation system in your greenhouse is the most effective way to ensure a continuous supply of fresh air. Consider using exhaust fans and intake vents strategically placed to create a cross breeze. This will help circulate air, prevent condensation, and minimize the risk of diseases caused by stagnant air. Regularly monitor and adjust the ventilation system to maintain the desired airflow.

Using Fans for Air Circulation

In addition to a ventilation system, interior greenhouse fans can further enhance airflow. These fans can help distribute warm air from the heater evenly throughout the greenhouse while promoting plant transpiration. Place the fans strategically to ensure they cover the entire growing area. Regularly clean and maintain the fans to prevent the buildup of dust and debris, which can hinder their effectiveness.

Preventing Diseases through Proper Airflow

Healthy airflow plays a crucial role in preventing the development of diseases in your greenhouse. Good ventilation helps reduce excess moisture, which can lead to fungal growth and other harmful plant conditions. By allowing fresh air to flow, you can maintain optimum humidity levels and create an environment that is less favorable for disease-causing pathogens. Keep an eye out for any signs of diseases and promptly address them to prevent further spread.

By ensuring healthy airflow in your greenhouse, you can create a conducive environment for your winter plants to thrive. Ventilation systems, fans, and proper disease prevention measures will contribute to the overall health and success of your plants during the colder months. Regularly monitor and adjust airflow, taking into account the specific needs of your plants, and enjoy a fruitful winter gardening experience.

greenhouse ventilation

Ventilation Tips Benefits
Install exhaust fans and intake vents in strategic locations Promotes air circulation and prevents condensation
Place interior greenhouse fans to distribute warm air Ensures even temperature distribution and increased plant transpiration
Maintain optimum humidity levels to prevent fungal growth Reduces the risk of diseases caused by excess moisture

Checking and Adjusting Lighting Levels

During the winter months, the natural light supply for your greenhouse decreases due to shorter daylight hours. It is crucial to assess the lighting conditions and ensure that your plants are receiving sufficient light for photosynthesis and growth. If you find that the natural light is not enough, you can supplement it with artificial grow lights.

greenhouse lighting

When choosing artificial grow lights, consider the specific needs of your plants. Different types of plants require different light spectrums and intensities. LED grow lights are energy-efficient and provide a wide range of light spectrums suitable for various plant growth stages. Fluorescent lights are also a popular option for greenhouse lighting.

Adjust the timing and duration of the grow lights to mimic natural daylight as closely as possible. This will help your plants maintain a regular growth cycle and ensure healthy development. Regularly monitor the lighting levels in your greenhouse and make adjustments as needed to provide optimal conditions for your plants throughout the winter season.

Monitoring and Maintaining Greenhouse Temperature

One of the most critical aspects of winter gardening in a greenhouse is monitoring and maintaining the temperature. Proper temperature control is essential for creating an optimal environment for your plants to thrive. By ensuring the right temperature, you can promote healthy growth and prevent the development of diseases. Here’s how you can effectively monitor and maintain the temperature in your greenhouse:

  1. Use a thermometer: Install a reliable thermometer inside your greenhouse to accurately monitor the temperature. Place it at plant level to get an accurate reading of the conditions your plants experience.
  2. Adjust your heating system: Depending on the temperature readings, adjust your heating system accordingly to maintain the desired temperature. A well-functioning heater, combined with proper insulation, can help regulate the temperature effectively.
  3. Consider using a thermostat: For more precise temperature control, consider installing a thermostat. A thermostat can automatically adjust the heating system, ensuring a consistent temperature for your plants.
  4. Ensure adequate insulation: Insulate your greenhouse properly to prevent heat loss and maintain a stable temperature. Check for any cracks or gaps that may let cold air in and seal them with heat-retaining materials.
  5. Regulate ventilation and airflow: Adjust the ventilation and airflow in your greenhouse to control the temperature and humidity levels. Proper airflow helps prevent the buildup of moisture and decreases the risk of plant diseases.

Monitoring and maintaining the temperature in your greenhouse requires regular attention and adjustments. By implementing these strategies, you can create an ideal climate for your plants, ensuring their health and productivity throughout the winter season.

Temperature Range Ideal Plants
55°F – 65°F (13°C – 18°C) Lettuce, herbs, spinach
65°F – 75°F (18°C – 24°C) Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers
75°F – 85°F (24°C – 29°C) Melons, eggplants, tropical plants

“Maintaining the optimum temperature in your greenhouse is crucial for the success of your winter gardening. Your plants rely on you to create an environment that mimics their natural habitat. By monitoring and maintaining the temperature, you provide them with the best possible conditions for growth and health.” – Greenhouse Gardening Expert


Preparing your greenhouse for winter is essential to protect your plants and ensure successful winter gardening. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create a favorable environment for your plants and promote their growth and productivity throughout the winter season.

Remember to regularly monitor your greenhouse and make adjustments as needed to maintain optimal conditions. Check the temperature, adjust heating systems, and ensure proper insulation to prevent heat loss. Keep an eye on the ventilation and airflow to regulate humidity levels and prevent diseases.

With proper greenhouse preparation, your plants will be well-equipped to withstand the cold weather and thrive. Implement these winter gardening tips to protect your plants and enjoy a successful gardening experience throughout the winter months.


What plants can I grow in a hot greenhouse during winter?

You can grow your regular “summer plants” in a hot greenhouse during winter.

What type of plants can I cultivate in a cold greenhouse during winter?

Cold-season plants can thrive in a cold greenhouse during winter.

How do I clean my greenhouse for winter?

Start by removing all plants, emptying pots, and cleaning equipment with a scrub and disinfectant.

How can I fix cracks, holes, and gaps in my greenhouse?

Minor damages can be patched with caulking, and major damages may require panel replacement or covering material replacement.

What should I do to prepare the soil in garden beds for winter?

Remove dead plants and debris, and consider adding worms to improve soil health.

How should I get my heating system ready for winter?

Inspect your heater for good condition and consider having a backup electric heater on hand.

Can I use unpowered heating aids in my greenhouse during winter?

Yes, you can use heat retaining rocks or black barrels to provide extra warmth.

How can I enhance insulation in my greenhouse for improved heat retention?

Repair damaged insulation and consider installing energy curtains.

How can I ensure healthy airflow for my winter plants in the greenhouse?

Install a proper ventilation system or use interior greenhouse fans.

How can I adjust lighting levels in my greenhouse during winter?

Supplement natural light with artificial grow lights to provide sufficient light for your plants.

How do I monitor and maintain the temperature in my greenhouse during winter?

Use a thermometer, adjust your heating system, and ensure proper insulation to maintain a stable temperature.

How important is it to prepare my greenhouse for winter?

Preparing your greenhouse is crucial for the health and survival of your plants during winter.

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