8 Best Portable Greenhouses
Harvest plump tomatoes in winter and enjoy beets all summer long. Portable greenhouses create moveable microclimates that stretch the growing season.
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Buying a Portable Greenhouse
Niki Jabbour, the author of “Growing Under Cover” and a writer for SavvyGardening.com, offers some sage advice on deciding which portable greenhouse is right for you: Consider carefully how you want to use it.
Will it be temporary frost protection overtop a garden bed? Or are you planning to start seedlings inside it this spring? Maybe you’re looking to create a microclimate around heat-loving summer vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Or perhaps you’re hoping to extend the harvest season into the autumn and winter months.
Regardless of your gardening goal, Jabbour says it’s important to pick the right portable greenhouse to achieve it.
Other factors to think about:
- Size: Carefully measure the available space and select a portable greenhouse to fit it. “This is particularly important in urban areas where garden space for a large structure can be hard to find,” says Jabbour.
- Placement: A sunny spot, sheltered from gusty winds, is ideal. Never place a greenhouse under trees or in the shade of nearby buildings.
- Durability: “In Northern areas like mine, where we get a lot of snow in winter, it’s essential to have a greenhouse — portable or permanent — that can withstand snow load,” Jabbour says. Materials like powder-coated aluminum and steel tend to be stronger and more stable than cheap plastic. “There are a lot of options available online and at garden supply stores and an inexpensive structure made from polyethylene won’t be as durable as one made from polycarbonate or glass,” she says.
- Design: Floorless models protect plants already growing and offer good drainage. A-framed or arched (walk-ins) let you cultivate tall plants.
- Budget: The old adage “You get what you pay for” is also true for portable greenhouses. If you want a portable greenhouse to last for years, don’t go cheap. You can justify the expense when you consider the money you’ll save on your grocery bill.
Expand the growing season, protect vulnerable plants from frost and give seedlings a fighting chance with our picks for the top portable greenhouses.
Best Portable Greenhouse on Wheels
Say goodbye to the back-breaking work of moving plants, pots, soil and equipment around your property. The four-tier Eagle Peak Mini Greenhouse ($40) features a set of removable casters so you can roll it from the garage to the patio to the flower beds.
When you get to where you’re going, lock the brakes on two of the wheels and you’re done. It’s simple to put together and disassemble without tools.
Best Compact Portable Greenhouse
A perfect solution for small apartments or college dorms, the IKEA Socker ($22) mini greenhouse fits almost anywhere. Place it in a sunny spot on a window sill, countertop or shelf to grow microgreens, sprout seedlings or nurture a tiny succulent garden.
The sturdy polyester powder-coated steel frame surrounds panels of clear polystyrene. Both materials wipe clean with a damp cloth. Add IKEA’s Fixa stick-on floor protectors ($1.50) to prevent scratches.
Best Collapsible Portable Greenhouse
For fans of no-brainer setups, the Outsunny Pop-Up Greenhouse ($128) comes out on top. “Take it out of the box and untie a ribbon then let it go,” writes HomeDepot.com five-star reviewer Phil. “It will completely unfold.”
Along with a tear-proof polyethylene cover over a flexible steel frame for sturdiness, the Outsunny ships with four wind ropes to tie firmly to the included ground nails. Carry and store it in the handy bag.
Best Lean-To Portable Greenhouse
When there’s not enough land for a freestanding greenhouse, the Outdoor Lean-To Walk-In Green Greenhouse by Eagle Peak ($104) is an efficient side-of-structure option. It saves space while offering a decent amount of room for caring for plants.
The three-shelf rack makes a handy staging/potting station. We also love the zippered doors that let you enter from either side. Floorless and lightweight, it assembles in minutes. It can be set up on hard surfaces or over soil.
Best Dome-Shaped Portable Greenhouse
Tierra Garde Haxnicks Greenhouse ($342) is a “sun bubble” that warms up quicker than most traditional greenhouses. That’s due to its innovative curved dome surface. It faces the sun at a 90-degree angle all day long, allowing maximum penetration of light for a boosted growing environment.
Made of UV stabilized PVC and flexible fiberglass rods, the patented one-piece folding design sets up in minutes. It comes with a mounting/anchor kit.
Best Portable Greenhouse for Balconies/Decks
The Danish-made Julian Vertical Greenhouse ($600) combines high-quality construction and the sleek, modern design you’ve come to expect from Scandinavia. An urban dweller’s dream, this standout portable greenhouse will dress up your balcony or patio without taking up too much space.
The expertly crafted greenhouse features strong caster wheels to roll it from one sunny spot to another. It comes with a cedar bottom and a removable aluminum shelf.
In front, the long-pane, toughened glass sliding doors allow for straight-ahead access to plants. And on top, there’s a cedar work surface for potting and pruning plants. Remove the board to use the attached little trellis to grow climbing plants and vines.
The greenhouse arrives unassembled but includes instructions and fittings.
Best Top-Entry Portable Greenhouse
The Big Tree Cold Frame Greenhouse ($124) is an impressive buy, especially when you consider the solid, knotty fir frame and translucent frosted panels for excellent visibility all around. But it’s the nifty winged design (think the butterfly doors on the DeLorean in the film Back to the Future) that really caught our eye.
Bolts and hooks on either side hold the hinged lids steadfastly in place for hands-free, top-down gardening. You’ll need to assemble it (instructions included). If you change your mind about where you want it, no worries. It weighs less than 12 lbs.
Most Versatile Portable Greenhouse
The floorless, uncomplicated design of the Quictent Mini Portable Greenhouse ($55) protects plants and vegetables that are already planted or sit low to the ground. It’s also great for covering garden beds.
Easy to move and store, one large U-shaped and two smaller zippered side windows are lined with layers of mesh to allow air in and keep birds and bugs out. It can even be a backyard chicken coop!