Guide To Choosing the Best Indoor Greenhouse

Ready to take your gardening game indoors? An indoor greenhouse might be exactly what you need to reach your indoor green thumb potential.

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For people of all ages suddenly stuck at home during the pandemic, houseplants and gardening became a hugely popular pastime. When done well, it yielded beautiful plants and flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables while taking our minds off the crises swirling outside the garden gate.

Whether you’re back to work or school or just resumed “normal” activities, you may find you have less time to devote to your plants. An indoor greenhouse can bring the beauty of a garden indoors, prolong the life of established plants and provide a controlled, beneficial environment for nurturing new ones.

What Is an Indoor Greenhouse?

An indoor greenhouse is a small cabinet, tent or enclosed transparent or semi-transparent structure used to grow plants indoors.

“There is not much difference between an indoor greenhouse and an outdoor one,” says Marc Hachadourian, director of glasshouse horticulture and senior curator of orchids at the New York Botanical Garden. “The basic concept is the same — an enclosed environment that is modified for the growth of plants.”

Hachadourian says indoor greenhouses usually differ from outdoor ones by location. Many indoor greenhouses function more like large terrariums. They usually don’t have, nor necessarily require, the technology and insulating power of larger outdoor greenhouses.

Depending on the space in your home, what you want to grow and the investment you want to make, the shape, size and type of the indoor greenhouse you choose can vary. An indoor greenhouse can be as simple as a small zippered compartment that retains humidity, a glass cabinet with fans and lights, or a walk-in grow tent for tending lots of plants.

What To Consider When Buying an Indoor Greenhouse

“Any greenhouse structure indoors or out requires a little research and planning,” says Hachadourian. “Proper research and planning will help you avoid headaches or problems later and increase your chances of success.”

Here are some important questions to consider before shopping for an indoor greenhouse:

  • What types of plants do you want to grow, and what conditions do they need? Presumably, you’re starting with just one indoor greenhouse, so make sure you choose plants that can all thrive in the same conditions.
  • How much space is available? Measure where you’re planning to install the greenhouse. Hachadourian says you should consider how big the plants will eventually grow, not just how big they are the first year or so.
  • Is there enough natural light, or will you need to provide artificial lighting? That’s typically high-pressure sodium (HPS) or LED. If you need supplemental light, consider how you’ll provide it.
  • Choose a structure that won’t let water and humidity escape to prevent damage to your home’s flooring or walls.

Best Indoor Greenhouse Plants

“Home heating and air-conditioning,” says Hachadourian, “is designed to make people comfortable but is not always ideal for plants.” An indoor greenhouse can protect plants from conditions detrimental to their growth. Here are some of his top recommendations for indoor greenhouse plants:

  • Orchids: If you’ve ever visited a public botanical garden, you’ve probably seen how orchids thrive in a greenhouse.
  • Carnivorous plants: Insect and arthropod-eating plants, like Venus flytraps, do well in greenhouses as long as you feed them!
  • Aroids: Members of the arum family, these include fan favorites like philodendrons, peace lilies and pothos.
  • Begonias: Whether you grow annuals or perennials, an indoor greenhouse will keep them safe and flowering year-round.
  • Ferns: They love a humid environment, which is why they’re such a popular indoor greenhouse plant.

Other ways to use an indoor greenhouse:

Best Location for an Indoor Greenhouse

Hachadourian says almost any location in the house can be suitable, depending on how much technology you incorporate. “Even a room with no windows” would work, he says, provided you add lights.

To start with something more simple, follow these tips:

  • Sunlight, but not too much: “In general,” says Hachadourian, “avoid locations with extremely strong sunlight unless you can provide proper ventilation, as they can heat up very quickly. Bright indirect light is usually best.”
  • Space and aesthetics: In any routinely used room, an indoor greenhouse will become part of the decor. Place it where you can see and tend to it, but not where it impedes household traffic.
  • Power source: If your greenhouse needs light or fans, set it up near an outlet.

Best Indoor Greenhouses

We chose these three models based on size, style and budget:

Pure Garden Four-Tier Greenhouse

Pure Garden 4 Tier Greenhouse Ecomm Via Amazon.comvia merchant

There’s nothing fancy about this zippered polyvinyl greenhouse with metal shelves, but it’s a great starter option. It’s also portable, so you can move it outdoors when the weather warms up. Browse more glass greenhouse options here. If you’re looking for more portable options, check out this portable greenhouse that’s affordable and highly-rated, too.

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Glass Greenhouse Terrarium

Large Tall Plant Terrarium Glass Ecomm Via Amazon.comvia merchant

Small apartment or modest ambitions? This compact terrarium-style greenhouse is suitable for orchids, succulents and carnivorous plants, with a design reminiscent of Victorian-style greenhouses. One caveat: The bottom is not waterproof, so be sure to protect the surface underneath.

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Vivosun HydroponicGrow Tent Kit

Vivosun Grow Tent Complete System Ecomm Via Amazon.comvia merchant

If your focus is less on aesthetics and more on growing healthy, high-yield fruits and vegetables year-round, then consider this grow tent. It includes lights, fans and ventilation, creating a self-contained environment for growing tomatoes, leafy greens and herbs.

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Elizabeth Heath
Elizabeth Heath is a travel, lifestyle and home improvement writer based in rural Umbria, Italy. Her work appears in The Washington Post, Travel + Leisure, Reader's Digest, TripSavvy and many other publications, and she is the author of several guidebooks. Liz's husband is a stonemason and together, they are passionate about the great outdoors, endless home improvement projects, their tween daughter and their dogs. She covers a variety of topics for Family Handyman and is always ready to test out a new pizza oven or fire pit.