If you’re looking for a way to extend your growing season and get a jump start on your garden, then a mini greenhouse is a great option. Mini greenhouses are perfect for small spaces and can be placed almost anywhere in your yard or garden.
They provide just enough space to grow seedlings and young plants, and can also be used to protect more delicate plants from the elements.
The 3 Types of Small Greenhouses
When buying a small greenhouse kit, there are 3 types that you’ll want to consider. I break down each of the three below, and offer the best options for that type to help you decide what’s right for you.
Size might be the most obvious thing to consider when buying a greenhouse, but there are a lot of options, so it’s important. Everyone has a different concept of what is considered “mini” so I wanted to walk through each.
1. Walk In Greenhouse
The name says it all, these are going to be greenhouses you can actually walk into. They are much more portable than a full blown greenhouse, but still provide your plants with protection from the elements.
Best Walk In Greenhouses
As far as walk in greenhouse kits go, there are some of the good options out there.
They do come in a little more pricey than the other two options on this list, but they give you a LOT more versatility in terms of space, heat containment, and they just look more robust.
Ohuhu Outdoor Walk-In Greenhouse
This greenhouse is a great option if you’re looking to be able to walk in and have a LOT more growing room than the other 2 types of greenhouse kits on this list.
You can put potted plants, seed starts, and even full blown tomato plants in large pots in this greenhouse. The plastic cover does well for wind durability, but lets in a lot of light for your garden. The roll up zippered door is great for making it easy to go in and out, or let a lot of air get in on a warmer day.
With 12 shelves, the possibilities are really endless in terms of a hobby gardener being able to fit everything they need. You can even store your gardening tools and potting mix on one of the sturdy shelves for easy access.
- Observation windows to see in and out
- Multiple shelves for additional growing space
- Polyethylene cover lets in just enough light
- Foldable door for easy entry and ventilation
- Not the most durable option
2. Cold Frames
A cold frame is a mini greenhouse that is usually made of wood or plexiglass for the sides, and greenhouse plastic or glass on the top.
You can think of a cold frame almost as a raised bed with a lid. They typically do not come with a bottom, so you’ll want to place them on a really even ground or wind will get through the cracks on the bottom.
They help to keep in heat and moisture to protect plants during winter months and unexpected cold temperatures.
Cold frames are best for:
- Small garden spaces
- Overwintering plants
- Growing cold season crops like lettuce and greens
A cold frame can do well as a compact greenhouse in most spaces since they are pretty small. You can even grow flowers in them.
Best Cold Frames
Giantex Portable Wooden Cold Frame
The Giantex Garden Portable Wooden Green House is a great solution for anyone looking to add a touch of green to their home without any fuss.
This beautiful and simple design is perfect for storing all sorts of plants, and its foldable top makes it easy to adjust the amount of sunlight and rain your plants receive. Made from sturdy and durable wood, this green house is easy to assemble and move.
- Made from wood and polycarbonate plastic
- 39.3" X 24.8" X 15.1"
- Lightweight and easy to move
- Simple assembly
- Made of cedar wood to withstand elements
- Frame feels slightly flimsy
- Might want to put water seal on the wood to improve lifespan
Giantex A Shape Double-Sided Cold Frame
Similar to the other Giantex cold frame on this list, it’s made of cedar wood as the frame material to withstand the weather, and polycarbonate panels to protect from cold weather and wind.
This version has two doors on top for easy access to both side of the cold frame.
- Made from cedar wood and polycarbonate panels
- 35.4" X 31.3" X 23.0"
- Easy to assemble
- Two sided lids made it easy to reach everything
- Larger growing space
- Slightly flimsy
3. Mini Pop Up Greenhouse
What I’m calling a mini popup greenhouse is essentially a small shelving unit that has a plastic cover to keep the heat in. You aren’t able to walk into these small greenhouses, but you can fit quite a few plants in there.
They often have a roll up zippered up door or windows, making it easy to get some air circulation going.
They are not as robust as cold frames at overwintering plants and growing during the deep winter, but they do a great job at keeping some heat and moisture in if the temperatures drop.
Best Popup Greenhouses
Popup greenhouses are great if you’re looking for room for a few more plants and plant babies than a cold frame, but don’t want to buy a full walk in greenhouse.
Porahut Popup Greenhouse
The Porayhut pop up greenhouse is great if you need a larger space, but don’t want a full blown hoop house or greenhouse. It’s super portable and goes up quickly.
While it’s not going to withstand extreme weather, it will do just fine to let you extend the growing season.
Home-Complete Mini Greenhouse
This 4 tiered shelf unit is a good option for starting seeds in seed trays outside and keeping the warmth in.
While it comes with wheels, they aren’t very useful when the unit gets full of plants and has a lot of extra weight on it.
Some people commented that after using it for a few months, it started to break down quite a bit. At $40-$50 (at time of this writing), it’s a great budget option if you need something for one season. But I’m not sure it’s a good long-term play.
- 4 Tiered shelves for growing more plants
- Budget friendly, but you get what you pay for
- Wheels don't work great when it's full
- Some fail after a few months
What to Look for When Buying a Mini Greenhouse
There are a ton of options when it comes to a portable greenhouse, so let’s walk through some of the things you should consider when buying one.
Insulation & Weather
The type of greenhouse you want for a backyard in Southern California vs one in Maine is going to vary. While all of these will provide some protection from the elements, many of these aren’t built to withstand subzero temperature and lots of snow or wind.
The quality of the materials is a big piece in determining how well this is going to perform for you, and how long it’s going to last. If it’s built from typical plastic, you might be struggling to save it through until the next season.
I’m all about buying something that might be a little more expensive up front, but will last for years to come. I find that I usually end up saving money this way.
Alternatives to Mini Greenhouses
There are a few other options aside from getting a mini greenhouse for your yard.
To extend your growing season, you can also opt to setup a grow tent in your garage or basement. Grow tents give you ultimate control of your environment, which can be great for getting plants growing quickly.
Because a grow tent would be a completed enclosed system, you will need to get a grow light or alternative source of lighting for your plants.
If you’re going to be grow quite a few plants, and need some additional space, a hoop house can be a great option. You can get one setup pretty quickly for around $400-$500 with everything included.
It’s a bit more DIY than a mini greenhouse because the setup is a little more involved. However, you can get full hoop house kits that include everything you need. A hoop house can give you a growing space that is free from bugs and other pests.
The Best Mini Greenhouses
Mini greenhouses can be a great option for extending your growing season into the fall, but also jumpstarting your season in the early spring.
They are much smaller than a typical greenhouse and are usually portable, so you can move them around each season if you have a better spot for it. While they don’t have as great of ventilation or durability as a full-scale greenhouse, these can still help lengthen the season for you.