Two Rhino Cold Frames beside a greenhouse

Cold frame vs greenhouse: which option is best for you?

A cold frame or a greenhouse, which is the best option for your garden? Our guide will take you through the key differences between the two products and the gardening benefits each choice can provide.

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A cold frame or a greenhouse, which is the best option for your garden? Our guide will take you through the key differences between the two products and the gardening benefits each choice can provide.


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Cold frame vs. greenhouse – quick guide

Cold frame greenhouses

  • Cost: More affordable, with DIY options available.
  • Size: Compact, ideal for small spaces.
  • Ease of use: Simple to set up and maintain.
  • Best for: Hardening off seedlings, extending seasons for cool-weather crops.

Traditional greenhouses

  • Cost: Higher initial investment.
  • Size: Larger, requiring more space.
  • Ease of use: More complex, with temperature and humidity controls.
  • Best for: Year-round cultivation, growing a wider variety of plants.


Why choose a cold frame?

Cold frame greenhouses are the perfect solution if you do not have the space or budget for a traditional greenhouse. They rely on insulation and sunlight to create an ideal environment for plant growth. They sit low to the ground, with a clear lid that bathes your plants in natural light while shielding them from the chill.

The benefits of a cold frame

Limited space: Cold frame greenhouses are great for gardeners with limited space, offering a compact, cost-effective solution to extend the growing season.

Affordability: Cold frames are your budget-friendly option for advanced gardening and easy to purchase.

Versatility: Whether it's nurturing early sprouting veggies, giving young plants a head start, or safeguarding blooms, cold frames are a perfect choice.

Shielding young sprouts: Cold frames offer young plants a chance to thrive away from the harshness of unpredictable weather.

Easing into the outdoors: They serve as a gentle transition for indoor-sprouted seedlings, easing them into the great outdoors.

Winter refuge: Through the coldest months, cold frames are a retreat for plants that would otherwise struggle or perish.

What grows best in a cold frame?

Cold frames are best to grow cold-hardy vegetables, hardy herbs, winter lettuces and greens, spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocuses and alpine plants.

Where should you put your cold frame?

Place your cold frame in a spot that basks in the southern sun, ideally against a wall that can store and radiate heat. This will maximise warmth and ensure your plants enjoy a microclimate ideally suited to their growth.


Why choose a traditional greenhouse?

Traditional greenhouses are designed to create the perfect climate for plants to flourish. Greenhouses are made primarily of glass and capture sunlight and warmth, helping your plants and vegetables grow. Traditional greenhouses are the cornerstone of serious gardening, offering a sanctuary against British weather.

Cold Frames next to a greenhouse

The benefits of a traditional greenhouse

Climate: A greenhouse allows you to control the weather for your plants, getting the perfect temperature and humidity all year round.

Gardening non-stop: The seasons are no issue inside a greenhouse, allowing for the cultivation of plants, regardless of the snow, rain, or frost.

Seasons extended: In this controlled climate, the growing season is endless, enabling the cultivation of plants.

Abundance on demand: Suited for the ambitious gardener, greenhouses are the heart of mass production.

A sanctuary for heat-loving plants: For those plants that bask in warmth, the greenhouse encourages lush growth and vibrant blooms.

Start planting early: A greenhouse allows you to get a head start on spring.

A nursery for young plants: Ideal for sowing seeds and nurturing cuttings, a greenhouse offers a gentle environment for young plants to find their strength.

Protection from winter: As the cold creeps in, the greenhouse shelters delicate plants from the harshness of winter.

An evergreen garden: Gardeners can defy seasonal limitations, growing an array of plants all year-round.

What grows best in a greenhouse?
Traditional greenhouses are best for growing tropical and subtropical plants, year-round vegetables, exotic fruit, delicate flowers, and herbs.


Cold frame vs greenhouse- what else should you consider?

As you decide between a cold frame and a traditional greenhouse, let's navigate through a few key considerations: your gardening ambitions, the space you have and, of course, your budget.

Your gardening ambitions

For those just starting their gardening journey, cold frames are a great choice. Traditional greenhouses are a better option for a dedicated gardener, offering a sanctuary for a diverse bunch of plants under a controlled climate, no matter the season.

Your garden space

If your gardening dreams are bigger than your actual garden, cold frames are the clever solution to fit into compact areas. Traditional greenhouses require a tad more room but promise an expansive playground for your greenery.

Your budget

When it comes to budget, cold frames offer an affordable entryway or expansion to your gardening exploits. They're straightforward in both setup and maintenance. Traditional greenhouses, while pricier, are an investment in your botanical aspirations, providing an abode for your plants that is worth every penny for those ready to commit to the ultimate gardening experience.

Final thoughts

Deciding between a cold frame and a traditional greenhouse is dependent on three things: where you are on your gardening journey, the available space you have to grow plants, and what you are willing to invest. If you would like some further advice to make the choice, reach out to the team at Rhino Greenhouses Direct. We’d be more than happy to help.

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