Extend your vegetable harvest into fall or get a jump on spring planting with a compact greenhouse. The protective environment in a greenhouse shields tender plants from temperature swings, harmful pests, and high winds while offering diffused sunlight for optimum plant growth.
You don’t need a large backyard to take advantage of the benefits a greenhouse offers; don’t let the small size of these compact greenhouses fool you. Each one offers plenty of protection for seedlings and tender plants.
We’ve rounded up some of the best compact greenhouse options that won’t take up too much room but still offer all the benefits of a larger structure.
- BEST OVERALL: Nova Mini Walk-In Greenhouse
- BEST POP-UP: MINI LOP Mini Pop up Greenhouse
- BEST WALK-IN: Nova Mini Walk-in Greenhouse, 6 Shelves
- BEST VERTICAL: Ohuhu Mini Greenhouse for Indoor Outdoor 4 Tier
- BEST TABLETOP: Palm Springs 2-Tier Mini Greenhouse
- BEST CLEAR: Quictent Mini Walk-in Greenhouse 3 Tiers 6 Shelves
- ALSO CONSIDER: EAGLE PEAK Mini Garden Portable Greenhouse
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Compact Greenhouse
Choosing a compact greenhouse might seem like a simple decision, but there are actually a number of considerations to weigh. The best compact greenhouses come with a durable frame that will last many growing seasons, a means of ventilation, and easy assembly. Before making a purchase, learn about some of the most important features to look for when shopping for a mini greenhouse—and discover some of the best mini greenhouse options on the market.
There are several different mini greenhouse styles, each of which has its advantages and benefits. Some types may work better for your garden than others. The best choice for you depends on your available space, your budget, and whether you’re looking for a permanent or portable option.
- Walk-in greenhouses come in both permanent and portable models. They are large enough to allow gardeners to walk inside to tend to their plants. They may also have enough room to store gardening supplies.
- Pop-up greenhouses refer to portable greenhouses that offer easy assembly, takedown, and transport.
- Year-round mini greenhouses are small, permanent structures that stay in place all year with no need to dismantle after the growing season.
- Tabletop greenhouses sit on a table or other flat surface indoors or out. They make a great choice for novice gardeners who want to transfer small quantities of seedlings outdoors in the spring after germinating them indoors.
- Vertical mini greenhouses make a great choice for small yards or balconies because they feature shelving, which takes advantage of the available vertical space without taking up much floor space.
- Horizontal mini greenhouses can cover plants that are planted directly in the ground or in low-lying raised beds.
Wheeled greenhouses allow you to move your plants around the available outdoor space without disassembling the structure.
The first factor to consider when shopping for a compact greenhouse is how much available space you have. Luckily, there are plenty of options available, whether your garden consists of a suburban backyard, a city patio, or a tiny balcony. Consider, too, whether you plan to bring your mini greenhouse indoors when temperatures drop to a certain level.
Generally speaking, a compact greenhouse is any model that takes up 10 square feet of floor space or less. They are typically less than 6 feet tall. Sizes vary greatly, however, with models ranging from tabletop versions that take up just a single square foot to walk-in versions more suitable for larger outdoor spaces. Be sure to measure the space you have before making a purchase.
Compact greenhouses typically come with either wooden or metal frames, each of which has both advantages and disadvantages. Consider the following factors when choosing between metal and timber.
- Metal frames, typically made from aluminum or powder-coated steel, are low maintenance and easy to assemble. They’re generally constructed of metals that won’t rust when exposed to moisture. Many metal frames snap into place with plastic connecting pieces, which eliminates the need for tools.
- Wooden frames, also called cold frames, provide added stability. They are ideal for year-round use in more temperate climates. They do, however, have higher maintenance requirements because they may rot over time in damp conditions. They may need periodic sanding and a new coat of stain.
Standard greenhouses and some high-end mini greenhouses may feature glass-paneled walls. Glass withstands harsh weather conditions and lets in direct sunlight—ideal conditions for growing seedlings. It can, however, crack or break, so some greenhouses use polycarbonate panels as a cheaper and more durable alternative. The problem with these is that they don’t let in as much light as traditional glass panels.
The most affordable mini greenhouses use plastic siding. While this makes them easier to disassemble and move, it also means that their interiors can easily overheat, which may hurt some plants. Gardeners using this style of greenhouse have to take care to avoid high temperatures and humidity levels. It’s crucial to control ventilation using roll-up windows or doors. Another downside to greenhouses with plastic siding is that they may not be able to withstand extremely high winds.
Tiers and Shelving
Larger compact greenhouses often feature tiers or shelving to allow you to maximize the vertical space within the structure. This shelving may be made of wood, plastic, or metal and generally matches the frame of the structure. While greenhouse shelving is sometimes fixed in place, some models feature adjustable shelves to accommodate plants of various sizes.
While shelving is handy for allowing you to house more plants, it’s not ideal when you’re starting seedlings. Upper shelves create too much shade and prevent seedlings on lower shelves from getting the sunlight they need.
Before choosing a mini greenhouse, consider how you intend to use it. Consider a portable option if you intend to move your mini greenhouse around your indoor or outdoor space. Lightweight metal frames and plastic siding make for the most portable options.
Mini greenhouses with wooden frames or glass-paneled walls look great and last long, but these are not your most portable options, especially the larger models.
While most mini greenhouses on the market feature simply a frame, cover, and shelving, some greenhouses may come with the following additional features:
- Roll-up doors or windows: When outdoor temperatures are high, heat can build up inside the structure and reach levels that are intolerable for some plants. Roll-ups maximize airflow on hot days.
- Indoor lighting: Found in some higher-end mini greenhouses, this feature facilitates early-morning or evening plant care.
- Temperature/humidity control: Some units can accommodate a heater, fan, or misting system, sold separately, to help control interior climate and humidity.
Our Top Picks
Now that you’ve learned more about small greenhouses, it’s time to start shopping. The following are the top picks for the best compact greenhouses for your garden. These recommendations for the best small greenhouses deliver quality construction, great size options, portability, and other helpful features. Whether you’re looking for a walk-in, tabletop, or pop-up greenhouse, there’s sure to be a good solution here for your garden.
Whether you want to sprout seeds or pamper hothouse orchids, the Nova Mini Walk-In Greenhouse provides all the benefits of a larger greenhouse. It includes eight sturdy shelves and a roll-up door for ample ventilation and easy access to the plants.
The walk-in greenhouse features a durable polyethylene covering that diffuses harsh sunlight and protects tender plants from light freezes. Its strong frame, made from anti-rust steel tubing, is easy to set up and take down. The structure measures 57 inches long, 57 inches wide, and 77 inches high.
- Eight shelves hold containers and trays
- Zippered, roll-up door
- Anchors and straps keep it secure
- Can remove some framing to make it shorter
- Shelves can’t hold heavy potted plants
- Shelves may need zip ties for reinforcement
For protecting an individual plant from late spring or early fall frosts, you’ll love the MINI LOP Mini Pop-Up Greenhouse. The structure stands just 31 inches tall when open and measures 27 inches in both width and depth. It comes with four steel spikes to secure it firmly to the ground, a clear PVC cover, and a zip-open window that offers ventilation on sunny days when the temperature rises. This greenhouse pops open with a single movement, and when you’re done, just fold it up. It stores flat in a garage or basement until you need to use it again.
- Great for protecting very small plants or trees
- Easy to pop up or down
- Zippered door allows ventilation
- Can be used indoors or for stray outdoor cats
- Might not withstand heavy snow
- Smaller than expected
Get a jump on your summer gardening with the Nova Mini Walk-In. A durable polyethylene cover sits atop a powder-coated metal frame. The fabric provides soft, diffuse light for starting seedlings and growing tender plants. Six shelves, three on each side that each measure 11.22 inches by 28.34 inches, are just the right size to hold seedling flats or other plants.
This compact Nova Mini Walk-In Greenhouse measures 55.9 inches wide, 28.3 inches deep, and 75.6 inches high at its peak. The greenhouse assembles quickly without the need for tools and comes with its own storage bag.
- Zippered, roll-up door
- Reinforced to withstand winter while allowing light
- Eight shelves hold containers and trays
- Can be stored in storage bag in summer
- Might need extra anchors in strong winds
- Shelves may need zip ties for reinforcement
Maximize your floor space with a vertical greenhouse like this one from Ohuhu. It squeezes four shelves into these compact dimensions: 27 by 120 by 62 inches. The ventilated mesh plastic cover ties to the frame and provides ideal air circulation. A zippered roll-up door offers easy access.
The sturdy metal frame with plastic connectors supports up to 23.4 pounds distributed across the four steel-wire shelves. Quick tool-free assembly and takedown make this model easy to pack up at the end of the growing season.
- Four heavy-duty steel shelves for plants
- Narrow footprint is great for small spaces
- Zippered, roll-up door
- Integrated hooks included for securing greenhouse
- No anchors or stakes included
With enough room for two full-size seedling flats or multiple potted plants, the Palm Springs 2-Tier Greenhouse holds more plants in a small package. It comes with a rust-resistant metal frame and two wire shelves that measure 19 by 27 inches. The flexible, clear PVC cover features a roll-up door for ventilation and access to the plants inside.
Quick to assemble, the Palm Springs compact greenhouse is a great solution for protecting tender plants. The small structure stands 37.5 inches at its peak, which makes it a nice fit for patio tables, small backyards, decks, or balconies.
- Two steel shelves
- Clear PVC is easier to see inside
- Zippered, roll-up door
- Shorter design fits in most places
- Shelves might not hold heavy plants
With a walk-in design and dimensions of 56 by 29 by 77 inches, this compact greenhouse provides gardeners easy access to a number of plants and seedlings.
A completely waterproof PVC cover sits atop a heavy-duty powder-coated tubular steel frame. Each shelf holds up to 17 pounds in plants, pots, and seedling trays. A mesh door and a PVC door give gardeners added control over ventilation. Each side features a mesh-screen window to let fresh air in and keep hungry critters out.
As an added bonus, this greenhouse kit includes 50 plant-identification tags and 30 zip ties to provide additional support to the frame.
- Six steel shelves
- Midsize footprint for more plants
- Two hook-and-loop mesh windows
- Mesh screen door and plastic door
- Frame fittings could be tighter
- Might need extra reinforcement against wind
This low-lying horizontal greenhouse fits right over plants in the ground or pots sitting on a patio. Multiple zippered roll-up doors allow gardeners to adjust heat and ventilation and access plants with ease. The water-resistant translucent plastic cover offers protection from potentially harmful UV rays.
This greenhouse kit includes ropes to secure the heavy-duty powder-coated steel frame and stakes to anchor the greenhouse to the ground. This mini greenhouse measures 71 by 36 by 36 inches and rests on the ground.
- Long and low style for large spaces
- One half or entire side can be opened for ventilation
- Best for larger plants or garden beds
- No shelves
- Needs to be secured to the ground
Whether for a large backyard or a couple of feet of extra balcony space, a mini greenhouse makes a great addition to any gardener’s arsenal to keep vulnerable plants safe from animals, bugs, wind, frost, weeds, and more. Our top choice is the Nova Mini Walk-in Greenhouse, as it meets these requirements to help gardeners keep their plants safe and thriving in colder months.
How We Chose the Best Compact Greenhouse
We based our recommendations of best compact greenhouses on the need for gardeners to have reliable protection for their plants against cold temperatures, frost, and snow. Each product effectively meets these criteria even though there are several different styles. We narrowed our research to include greenhouses that came in several sizes and shapes since users have varying needs and locations they intend to use the greenhouse. Some are tall and narrow, others are low and wide, and still others are large walk-in greenhouses.
We chose only styles that use durable metal framing that resists rotting during wet winter months. Each product also has some form of ventilation whether it’s one or more doors or windows. Finally, we included recommendations that have shelves to hold more plants and one style that’s meant to protect large plants on the ground. No matter the style or size you need, we’ve included a variety of compact greenhouses to meet the need.
The Advantages of Owning a Small Greenhouse
Mini greenhouses allow gardeners with limited outdoor space to protect their plants from cold weather. The best compact greenhouses serve the same purposes as standard greenhouses within the confines of a small yard, patio, or even a balcony.
Standard greenhouses tend to be large and permanent, while mini greenhouses are often portable and offer easy setup, takedown, and storage. Small greenhouses:
- Protect plants from pests and critters
- Extend the growing season and let you start seedlings earlier
- Shelter plants from the elements
- Allow gardeners to create a controlled microclimate
- Prevent soil erosion and overwatering by preventing precipitation from reaching your plants.
You may still have some additional questions about the best compact greenhouses. This section aims to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about mini greenhouses to help you decide if purchasing one is right for you.
Q. What is a mini greenhouse for?
A mini greenhouse is used for protecting plants from harsh temperatures, wind, pests, and other critters. It’s a handy addition to smaller gardens or patios for extending the growing season and growing seeds, seedlings, or mature plants in cooler temperatures.
Q. What is the smallest size greenhouse?
Greenhouses vary widely in size and can have footprints of less than 1 square foot for germinating seeds in a small indoor space.
Q. Should a greenhouse be clear or opaque?
Clear and opaque greenhouse siding provide different types of light. Clear siding gives plants access to direct sunlight, which is ideal for germinating seeds and starting seedlings. On the other hand, opaque siding provides diffuse light, which is the better choice for growing plants to maturity because it prevents hot spots.
Q. How thick does the plastic need to be for a greenhouse?
For optimal quality and durability, look for a greenhouse with a plastic cover that’s at least 6 mils (or 0.006 inches) thick.
Q. Can I put a greenhouse in the shade?
No, you can’t put a greenhouse in the shade. Both full-size and miniature greenhouses rely on sunlight, so they should be placed in a location that receives full sun—6 to 8 hours of sunlight—throughout the day.