Greenhouse Knowledge Hub

Gardens of all shapes and sizes can benefit from adding a greenhouse, as they not only enable gardeners to grow crops all year round, they also provide a great centerpiece for any outdoor space they are installed within. 

We understand there is an awful lot you need to consider when it comes to purchasing a greenhouse and with that in mind, here’s our team’s ultimate guide to all things greenhouses!

Brief History Of The Greenhouse
What Can You Grow In A Greenhouse?
How Do Greenhouses Work?
Benefits Of Growing Plants In A Greenhouse
Things To Consider Before Buying A Greenhouse
How Much Does A Greenhouse Cost?
Creative Uses Of Greenhouses

Brief History Of The Greenhouse

Many historians believe that the first development of the greenhouse came about as part of the ancient Roman era (30 AD) when royal physicians recommended that Emperor Tiberius eat one cucumber a day to ease his illness. Whilst this would normally not have been an issue, the advice to cure the ailing Emperor came in the winter months when cucumbers couldn’t grow - so the Romans had to come up with a more innovative solution for year-round crop growth. 

This resulted in engineers and gardeners coming together and developing a structure resembling a cart, with a roof made from translucent material - and so the greenhouse was born. 


What Can You Grow In A Greenhouse?

Greenhouses offer the perfect conditions for growing an almost endless range of vegetables and herbs. Regardless of how big or small your greenhouse is, simply using the heat generated by the sun, greenhouses are capable of enabling most crops to grow all year round. 


Common Crops Grown In Greenhouses

You can easily grow most vegetables and herbs using a greenhouse, but some of the more commonly grown vegetables are:

  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Chillies
  • Sweetcorn 
  • Peas
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Herbs & Spices
  • Cucumbers
  • Aubergines
  • Courgettes

  • Greenhouses are also commonly used to nurture plants that will eventually grow in the garden. They provide the perfect environment for plants to establish themselves before being put into a more permanent position in your garden. Pretty much any type of plant can be grown in a greenhouse, so if you’re finding any of your flowers are struggling to grow when left outside, simply bring them into your greenhouse and there’s a good chance they’ll thrive!


    Commonly grown flowers & bedding plants

  • Pansies
  • Geraniums and Pelargoniums - can flower almost all year with the protection of a greenhouse
  • Sweetpeas

  • Unusual Things Grown In Greenhouses

    Whilst there are plenty of more traditional things that you’d expect to grow in your greenhouse, there are also a number of unusual crops that you may want to consider growing. Here are just a few of our favourites:

    • Cucamelons - also known as mouse melons, are a fantastic and more unusual addition to any greenhouse. These small fruits are the size of a large grape or olive, but have an uncanny resemblance to watermelons. They are extremely easy to grow, given the right conditions.
    • Tea - once you have seeds that have sprouted, you should move your tea plant into a sunny spot to enhance the growing process. They thrive in spots that are warm and receive direct sunlight all day, therefore a greenhouse environment offers an ideal place for tea plants to grow. 
    • Melons - extremely difficult to grow outside in the UK, but the conditions offered by greenhouses enable them to thrive. They require plenty of heat and humidity to grow, making them perfect for growing in your greenhouse!
    • Succulents - greenhouses offer the perfect environment for succulents to continue growing throughout the winter, especially given how cold it gets in the UK during these months. 
    • Luffas (Loofah) - The sponges you find in bathrooms can be grown in greenhouses. They are in fact vegetables, a distant relative to squashes and cucumbers. Greenhouses provide the ideal environment for them to grow as they need 150 to 200 warm days to ripen.
    • Carnivorous plants - These fascinating plants can thrive in a greenhouse. These plants are particularly popular with children so it is a good way to get them involved with gardening too.
    • Alpines - are hardy and versile plants one they are established. A greenhouse is a great place for young alpines to develop for transplanting later on. Read Sue Simpson’s story on how she uses her Rhino Greenhouse to grow Alpines.

    From Greenhouse To The Kitchen - Recipes To Enjoy

    When you have grown an assortment of vegetables and herbs in your greenhouse, it’s essential that you make good use of them in the kitchen! With that in mind, here are a few of our favourite recipes that we have covered over on our gardening blog:


  • Goat's Cheese with Rhubarb and Lovage
  • Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale and Blue Cheese Tart
  • Roast Tomato and Lentil Soup Recipe
  • Mediterranean Lamb Couscous with Kale and Pomegranate
  • Winter Savory & Vegetable Soup
  • Orange & Rosemary Drizzle Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Cake
  • Cooking with Rosemary

  • How Do Greenhouses Work?

    Greenhouses work by absorbing light energy, normally from the sun which is absorbed by the plants and objects inside, turning it into heat energy and raising the air temperature in the greenhouse in the process. Most greenhouses are made of glass or polycarbonate because light energy can easily travel through these materials. Once inside, light energy is absorbed by the objects inside the greenhouse and released as heat energy, which cannot escape as easily as light, making greenhouses really effective at trapping heat.


    *Of course heat will escape from the greenhouse over time but at a much slower rate because the steady release of heat is counteracted by the constant intake of light. 

    Diagram showing transfer of heat in a greenhouse



    Benefits Of Growing Plants In A Greenhouse

    Why Choose A Greenhouse?

    Greenhouses offer gardeners the opportunity to expand the normal growing season by a few months, essentially allowing them to have year-round gardening with the right planning. 

    The majority of plants grow better in light, warm areas; add a healthy splash of water every day and you’re sure to have a thriving crop. Whilst some plants and crops can withstand the great outdoors and grow, there are plenty that need continuous warmth and protection from the elements; this is where a greenhouse comes in particularly useful. 

    Greenhouses offer a more consistent environment than planting outdoors, especially when it comes to the extremely unpredictable British climate we all know and love! Many plants, especially those that have only just been sown, require consistent conditions to establish themselves - this isn’t a luxury they’re afforded by the UK’s climate. With the comfortable surroundings provided by a greenhouse, your plants, vegetables and herbs can grow quickly. 


    Mental Wellbeing Benefits Of Being In The Garden

    Taking care of your mental health & wellbeing is extremely important, especially with the pressures that come along with day-to-day life. Gardening is among the best ways to genuinely relax and recover from a tough week at work - allowing you to detach from the stresses of life in beautiful surroundings, while the physical act of gardening helps release happy chemicals into the body. 

    You can find out more about how gardening helps with your mental health and wellbeing in our recent blog article. 


    Environmental Benefits Of Greenhouses

    Not only are greenhouses beneficial for your crop’s growth, but they also boast a whole host of benefits for the environment. Being able to grow your own vegetables and herbs in the garden is an essential part of keeping your carbon footprint lower than usual - as you won’t need to make as many trips to the supermarket to purchase mass-produced fruits and vegetables.

    Greenhouses can help to improve the air quality surrounding your home too, which is obviously a huge positive for you and your family! You can choose to grow an assortment of air-purifying plants in your greenhouse, such as Spider Plants, Devil’s Ivy and Peace Lilies. These are ideal for cleansing the air and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. 


    Things To Consider Before Buying A Greenhouse

    Before rushing off and buying a greenhouse for your garden, it’s essential that you take the time to consider a few key components. Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes, there are plenty of different styles on offer, so it’s important that you do your research to ensure you’re getting the right greenhouse for your requirements. 

    There are also some other considerations that you need to take into account before making a final decision; we are commonly asked questions such as:

    Where Should I Position My Greenhouse?

    If you’re investing in a permanent greenhouse structure, it’s vital that you’re completely confident that you are placing it in the perfect spot for your plants to thrive all year round.

    First and foremost, be sure to place your greenhouse in an area that gets plenty of sunlight, preferably for the vast majority of the day. Ensuring natural daylight hits your greenhouse all day is vital, as this will enable the plants housed within to experience optimal growing conditions. Also, be sure to take the time to find an area that isn’t prone to surface water, and is flat. 

    If you are looking to use your greenhouse all year round - consider orienting the ridge of the roof to the east-west to maximise light in the darker months of the year. If you will only use the greenhouse during spring and summer, have your ridge run north-south, as this will allow both sides of your greenhouse to get similar amounts of time in the sunlight. But if orienting your garden in this manner isn’t an option for you in the space available, don’t be too concerned - domestic greenhouses are rarely large enough to be adversely affected by this.

    Whilst it can be tempting to nestle your greenhouse away in a well-sheltered area, we’d recommend leaving at least 2 ft of space around the outside of your greenhouse. This allows your greenhouse to be sheltered from cold winds but also gives you plenty of space to walk around all sides of the greenhouse. This space is essential when you come to clean the glass, or if you ever need to replace a pane of glass. 


    Top Tip: Avoid placing your greenhouse near any tall trees! Trees will severely hamper the amount of sunlight that reaches your greenhouse, which is a big problem when you’re relying on sunlight being on your greenhouse for the majority of the day. There’s always the chance that branches could break off the tree and smash your glass panes too. 


    What Size Greenhouse Is Right For Me?

    The size of the greenhouse you opt for will depend on how many crops you’re planning on housing, along with how much space you have available to you in your garden. If you have a large garden and plan on using your greenhouse extensively all year round, then you could go for the largest greenhouse available, a 12ft wide Rhino greenhouse. However, if you’re just starting out with greenhouses, then a 6ft wide Rhino greenhouse should be more than enough for your requirements. 

    When it comes to making your final decision, you need to delve deeper into the specifics of the greenhouse, taking into account things such as:

    Glazing

    The glazing is the most important component for any greenhouse, doing the lion’s share of the work when it comes to temperature and light levels. There are many different plastic and glass options available, each with its own set of pros and cons. Consider your criteria: if strength and safety are key, then toughened safety glass will be favoured, while plastic may be just fine if you don’t expect the greenhouse to endure much strain. 


    Frame

    The frame is what holds your greenhouse together and keeps the glass in place. Stronger frames will feature additional bracing along the eaves and ridge, vital for durability, so look out for this to ensure that your greenhouse lasts and doesn’t succumb to the weather. Available in a wide range of materials, colours and shapes, the frame is fundamental to the overall style of the greenhouse.

    Base

    A greenhouse base is important for lifting the greenhouse off the ground and ensuring that the frame and panels are all sitting level. Like all of your greenhouse’s components, the base can vary in construction; as your greenhouse can be sat onto soil or a concrete pad in simple cases, but it will also usually require a metal base or brick plinth to lift the greenhouse off the ground. A sturdy base is absolutely key for a greenhouse, a firm base will keep the frame balanced and secure and will help your greenhouse withstand floods, high winds and shifting soil.

    Most of the greenhouses on offer here at Rhino come with integral bases, which offer enhanced greenhouse strength and make the installation phase significantly easier. Whilst the majority of our greenhouses coming with an integral base as standard is relatively unique, it’s something we believe should be included to ensure your greenhouse can stand the test of time.  

    Ventilation

    Good ventilation is important for controlling the temperature of the greenhouse and maintaining a healthy environment for your plants. Unfortunately, we can’t predict the level of sunlight we receive, especially in the UK, so it is difficult to control the internal temperature of the greenhouse without the help of ventilation. Ventilation will appear in the form of roof vents and side louvre vents. Look for greenhouses that come with more vents and louvres as standard to ensure you have the ultimate control over the temperature of your greenhouse. Your plants will be grateful for good circulation and vents will prevent the spread of mould and disease inside too.

    If you’re looking for a more consistent form of ventilation, you can choose to install automatic ventilation in your greenhouse, which is ideal for those warmer days! Providing good air circulation is essential, especially in hot weather, and automatic ventilation can ensure your crops don’t overheat on particularly warm days.

    Automatic vents work by expanding mineral wax pushing the piston included in the mechanism; this process will see the vent open whenever the temperature gets too warm. When the temperature drops, the wax will shrink back to its original form and a strong spring helps to close the vent, whilst resetting the piston back into its original place. 



    How Much Does A Greenhouse Cost?

    Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to consider a price you’re comfortable paying and searching for greenhouses that fit within your budget. For a high-quality, made to last greenhouse, you’ll need to spend upwards of £1000. That should be more than enough to get you a good-sized greenhouse that comes with a 25-year guarantee, like the greenhouses in our Classic, Premium and Ultimate range. 

    At Rhino Greenhouses Direct, we have three greenhouse collections on offer, in order to suit all budgets.

    Classic - this range is ideal for those looking for a simple and effective greenhouse solution. The Classic range from Rhino starts from as little as £1,099 for a 6x4 unit.

    Premium - if you are in the market for a quality greenhouse that oozes class, Rhino’s Premium range starts from £1,349 for a 6x4 greenhouse.

    Ultimate - Rhino’s Ultimate collection is the best of the best in the greenhouse world. Coming with an undeniably elegant finish, greenhouses in this range start from £3,749 for a 7x8 unit. 


    Along with the cost of the greenhouse itself, you must also consider that many suppliers will charge for the base separately. Always take the time to check if your greenhouse base is included in the price, as this can be a costly expense if you’re not expecting it! 

    You’ll be glad to learn that all of the greenhouses provided by Rhino Greenhouses Direct come with a strong aluminium base as standard - this base is of high quality and is made to last. 

    If you’re just starting out and want to find a smaller greenhouse to suit your budget, there are plenty of mini-greenhouse options available. These are a great way to see the benefits of greenhouses before committing to the purchase of a larger unit; they’re also ideal for those with limited garden space too. 


    Creative Uses Of Greenhouses

    Greenhouses offer a genuinely versatile space that has a whole host of more creative uses - think outside the box and you could create a unique space in your garden. Here are some of our favourite creative uses of greenhouses: 

    Beautiful Interiors

    Unusual Plants

    Special Occasions

    Clever Ideas

    Nicolas Goodden has strung up a section of guttering from the hanging basket rails in his Rhino to use as handy seedtrays or for shallow planters - and the strawberries absolutely love it.
    Rob Carling has used hung a wooden trellis from the hanging basket rails with small-linked chains. This makes it easy to remove when it's not needed and allows more light to penetrate to the staging below.
    Gill Ferguson is making expert use of the slatted integral staging in her Rhino to dry out her onions.
    Duncan Baird has trained a grape vine to grow through up inside his Rhino greenhouse, using all that extra box-section bracing for support. During the summer months, the foliage grows creating natural dappled shade inside the greenhouse.