Greenhouse for succulents outdoors

How to Start a Greenhouse for Succulents (Indoors or Out!)

I absolutely love shopping online for succulents and gardening supplies. If you aren't already saving money by comparing prices online, give it a try! Here are six of my favorite things that I have purchased online as I build my own succulent oasis:

I used to think that greenhouses were for commercial ventures only. You know, the ones you walk into and see tables upon tables of gorgeous, thriving plants for sale. But then I realized that greenhouses are so much more than just a place to store your inventory–they actually provide massive benefits for most types of succulents.

If you’ve been growing succulents for a while and have built up a sizeable collection, you may be wondering whether it’s worth setting up a greenhouse for them. It’s quite tempting to be able to keep your plants outdoors year-round if your collection is too large to bring inside. An indoor greenhouse for succulents can also be a great option if you want to keep them in a cool garage or basement.

Before you take the next step, I’m revealing everything you need to know about how to start a greenhouse for succulents, indoors or outside.

Do You Need a Greenhouse for Succulents in Winter?

If you live in a tropical climate that’s warm all year long, you probably won’t need a succulent greenhouse. For all the rest of us in temperate or even cold climates, yes, your plants would love living in one! But that doesn’t necessarily mean they need it.

The great thing about growing succulents in a greenhouse – whether it’s a huge glass set-up or just a plastic box with no space to walk in – is that it allows you to get all the benefits of growing them outdoors while maintaining a degree of control over temperature and watering.

Advantages of a Greenhouse

  • Control lighting: there’s much more light than indoors, but the excess sun can be blocked if needed.
  • Control water: protect your succulents from heavy rainfall in wet climates.
  • Control temperature: greenhouses are warmer than the ambient temperature, and they can also be heated to make them extra toasty.
  • Control ventilation: windows, vents, and dehumidifiers can help keep air dry, just as most succulents like it.

Greenhouses for succulents are especially convenient in winter. Our drought-tolerant plants can struggle a bit when they’re brought inside after spending all summer growing abundantly outdoors. It’s often just not bright enough for them if you don’t use artificial lighting.

Additionally, finding the space for a larger collection of succulents can be a challenge. Even the cheaper pop-up greenhouses will allow you to at least extend the growing season of your favorite plants.

There are also some cons to using a greenhouse for succulents, whether it’s only in winter or year-round. First off, there’s the cost: prices for larger and more elaborate set-ups can run into the tens of thousands (although there are budget options as well, luckily). Then there’s maintenance, and don’t forget electricity costs for a heated greenhouse, especially if you also choose to run grow lights.

Buy succulents

Setting up An Outdoor Greenhouse for Succulents

Man setting up a succulent greenhouse outside

If you’d like to set up a succulent greenhouse in your yard or on a large balcony, you’ll have to choose what type you’d like to go for. You can choose anything from a full glass greenhouse to more of a grow tent. Later I’ll cover more about buy vs DIY and compare different types of greenhouses to help make finding the right one for you easier.

Whatever the type, in all outdoor greenhouses, you’ll have to consider a few different factors.

Temperature. Depending on how low the temperatures fall in your area, an outdoor greenhouse will be a bit warmer than outside, but not by much. If it does get chilly, you’ll have to divide between heating it or only leaving the most cold-hardy succulents in there.

Light. A greenhouse provides great sunlighting year-round, but keep in mind that not all succulents like scorchingly bright light. You’ll have to consider shade cloths to protect them during high summer and help prevent sunburn. Alternatively, some gardeners like to install grow lights to boost brightness during cloudy winter days.

Related: Best Full Sun Succulents (Drought Tolerant Species)

Ventilation. If you’ve ever been in a cool greenhouse during winter, you’ll know they can be very damp. This is great for tropical plants, but not so much for succulents. You may need to run dehumidifiers or provide proper ventilation through windows and vents to keep the humidity at an acceptable level. You’ll want to aim for a maximum of around 40% humidity for most succulents.

Positioning. Succulents placed on the ground are more susceptible to cold damage, even inside a greenhouse. It’s usually best to place plants on some kind of shelving with drainage. You can also hang them to add layers to your space and fit more plants.

Pest control. Pests are a part of life in succulent greenhouses. You can get rid of pests like mealybugs and aphids using natural methods like predatory bugs or treat them with organic pesticides. Having a bug control plan in place can save you heartache and keep your succulents from dying.

Aside from these factors, growing and caring for succulents in a greenhouse isn’t much different from doing so indoors or outside. As always with these plants, the main challenge is in preventing rot, mold, and fungus while still managing to hydrate them properly

Keep in mind that during the cold winter months, it’s best to keep succulents mostly dry. The right succulent soil mix can also play an important role in keeping them happy and healthy.

Related: How to Revive an Overwatered Succulent

Setting up An Indoor Greenhouse for Succulents

If you have a garage or basement, this could be a great place to overwinter your succulents without cluttering your home. Especially in cold climates where heating an outdoor greenhouse would be way too costly, having an indoor space available can be a lifesaver.

An indoor succulent greenhouse is especially beneficial if your space gets too cold during winter. Many people don’t heat areas like basements and garages. So, that’s where the indoor greenhouse concept comes in.

A small greenhouse for succulents with grow lights can offer everything your fat plants need. The lights ensure they can grow and emit some warmth, while the greenhouse itself keeps that toastiness in so not much additional heating will be needed.

Some folks also set up small greenhouses right in their living area, but this is more popular for tropical plants that need high humidity. It could be a good option for moisture-loving jungle cacti.

Related: Why Are the Tips of My Succulents Turning Red?

Buy vs DIY a Greenhouse for Succulents

There are loads of different types of greenhouses to choose from. Most are suitable for succulents, but they all have their own pros and cons. You’ll have to choose whether you’ll be buying or making your own DIY greenhouse for succulents.

DIY Succulent Greenhouse

Going the DIY route can be cheaper and actually quite simple for smaller setups. Some wood and clear plastic (or glass panes) plus a reliable drill can get you pretty far. Things become more challenging if you want something big, at which point it may be better to buy your greenhouse unless you have construction experience.

You could even use an old glass cabinet as a tiny succulent greenhouse inside or out on a covered porch!

Buy a Succulent Greenhouse

If you prefer to buy a greenhouse rather than build one, the first choice you’ll have to make is between a sturdy, permanent type (often metal and glass or polycarbonate) or more of a pop-up tent (usually metal and plastic sheeting). If you’re going for the former, you will also need to choose between ordering a kit or a premade one or having professionals construct it for you.

succulent greenhouse

For very large set-ups, having your greenhouse custom-made is often the only option. It’s more expensive, but you get something sturdy, and it saves you the sometimes nightmarish experience of having to put together a greenhouse you ordered online.

What Kind of Greenhouse Should I Buy?

It can be difficult to pick which way you’d like to go with your greenhouse with all the types out there, especially if this is the first time you’re setting one up. Consider the options you’ll find for sale and how they compare.

1. Extra Small Greenhouse for Succulents: Porayhut Pvc Mini Tent

If you’re just looking for a basic home for a few small succulents, you could go for a mini PVC tent like this one by Porayhut. This type doesn’t work year-round in areas that get cold, as there’s not really an easy way to heat it.

However, a small greenhouse for succulents like this could come in very handy in those zones where temperatures usually don’t drop below zero, or to expand the summer growing season a bit further into fall in colder areas. That way, your succulents can spend more time soaking up the sunlight like they love to do! Once it’s time to bring them inside, you can just fold up the tent for next year.

If you’d like an option that’s a bit sturdier and won’t go flying if the wind picks up, you could consider a greenhouse that comes with paneling rather than PVC sheeting. Giantex, for example, makes a wooden ‘cold frame’ type greenhouse that should work well.

2. Small Greenhouse for Succulents: ShelterLogic GrowIT

If you like the idea of the aforementioned mini pop-up tent but have too many succulents to fit in there, no worries. This concept comes in all sizes. ShelterLogic’s GrowIT is quite a bit larger and it actually has shelving, but it’s still easy to take down if you do want to move your plants inside at some point.

Again, this greenhouse can’t really be heated, so it’s not suitable for year-round growing in colder zones. It works perfectly for milder climates or to expand the season, though.

If you need more space, there are also larger walk-in versions of these pop-up type tent greenhouses, like the Home-Complete HC-4202.

3. XXL Grow Tent: Quictent Walk-In

Got a LOT of succulents to house but don’t want to go for a glass or polycarbonate paneled greenhouse? XXL grow tents do exist, and they can be huge. This Quictent walk-in is a whopping 20 x 10 x 6.5 ft, which should be enough to house all but the largest succulent collections.

It can’t be heated very efficiently and may not be sturdy enough to stand up to snow and harsh weather condition, but it makes for a great place to keep your plants for at least part of the year. Again, in mild climates, it can even be a good semi-permanent option.

Related: How to Make Your Succulents Grow Faster and Bigger

4. Semi-Permanent Greenhouse: Palram Canopia Oasis

Grow tents can be a great asset for a succulent enthusiast, but they don’t offer all the advantages of a traditional greenhouse. If you want the full shebang of a greenhouse for succulents in winter – large, sturdy, heatable – there are options.

One popular seller of larger, semi-permanent greenhouses is Palram. I particularly like their Canopia Oasis line because of its nice shape, but they’ve got loads of types of greenhouses to choose from for every type of grower. 

With polycarbonate panes and a metal frame, Palram’s greenhouses are obviously pricier than a tent. However, they are really made to last and offer the entire range of advantages of a succulent greenhouse.

Related: How to Fertilize Succulents (A Complete Guide)

You Can’t Go Wrong With a Succulent Greenhouse

For the serious succulent grower, even a basic greenhouse set-up can be a big asset. Whether it’s indoors or out, these desert plants love the extra light and warmth!

With so many types of greenhouses available, there’s a perfect model for everyone… and if there’s not, you can always build one yourself.

Related: How to Propagate Succulents from Leaves, Stems, and Cuttings

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