Choosing the Best Containers for Greenhouse Gardening

Strolling through your greenhouse, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride in the flush of vibrant vegetation thriving under your care. In the article “Choosing the Best Containers for Greenhouse Gardening,” you’ll find comprehensive insights on how picking the optimal containers enhances your gardening journey. This guide is your compass to map the territory of various containers, with a focus on their features, pros, and cons. The success of your precious plants, from tiny succulents to sprawling vines, heavily depends on their cradle. By the end, you will be well-equipped to make an informed decision and see your green plants flourish more than ever.

Understanding Greenhouse Gardening

Greenhouse gardening represents the epitome of ingenuity in the realm of nurturing flora. Broadly speaking, it’s a method of gardening that involves the use of a structure, usually made of glass or plastic, capable of trapping the sun’s heat to create a warm and hospitable environment for plants year-round.

Definition of greenhouse gardening

Greenhouse gardening, or horticulture, is defined by the practice of cultivating plants within a greenhouse. This artificial environment grants you the luxury of extending growing seasons, controlling climatic conditions and protecting your plants from pest attacks and harsh weather elements.

Benefits of using containers in a greenhouse

The use of containers in a greenhouse is a popular choice amongst gardeners due to its myriad of benefits. For starters, containers offer space-saving solutions, they make it easier to control the soil, nutrients and moisture level each plant receives. Additionally, they can be moved around to alter light exposure and temperature. Finally, the chance of soil-borne diseases is significantly lessened as each plant is given its own isolated patch of soil.

Factors influencing container choice

Choice of container is influenced by several factors, including the type and size of the plant, the conditions it requires to thrive, and the gardener’s personal preference and budget. Other considerations include the durability, weight, insulation properties and environmental impact of the container material.

Types of Containers for Greenhouse Gardening

Gardeners working within the confines of a greenhouse have a buffet of container options to choose from. Let’s explore some of the most common types and their respective pros and cons.

Plastic containers

Plastic containers are a favorite amongst greenhouse gardeners due to their affordability, lightweight nature, and availability in various sizes and shapes. They are durable and long-lasting, with some designs featuring built-in drainage systems.

Fabric pots

Fabric pots, otherwise known as grow bags, are designed to improve root aeration and prevent root circling, enabling plants to grow larger and healthier. Made of breathable fabrics like felt, these pots are light, portable, and can easily be stored when not in use.

Clay or ceramic pots

Clay or ceramic pots are a traditional choice, often selected for their aesthetic appeal. They possess unique natural insulation properties that help regulate temperature and protect roots. However, they are prone to breakage and can be quite heavy to handle.

Wooden boxes

Why not imbue some rustic charm in your greenhouse with the use of wooden boxes? These boxes, often made from cedar or untreated pine, provide excellent insulation, keep plants cooler during the hot summer months and comfortably warm in cooler conditions. They’re also customizable to accommodate a variety of plant sizes.

Recycled containers

Recycled containers are an eco-friendly option for the environmentally conscious gardener. They can be anything from used plastic bottles, old boots, wood crates, to salvaged sinks. The sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity and repurposing materials!

Choosing the Best Containers for Greenhouse Gardening

Criteria for Choosing the Best Containers

Choosing the best containers for your greenhouse does require a bit of thoughtfulness and some understanding of your plants’ needs.

Size and depth appropriate for plant type

Each type of plant requires a different amount of space to grow healthy and strong. As a general rule, the container should be large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system at its mature size. A container that’s too small can restrict the plant’s growth while a container that’s too large can lead to overwatering.

Drainage capabilities

Good drainage is crucial to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and the demise of your plants. Containers should have holes at the bottom to let excess water escape, or at least be made from materials that allow for moisture evaporation.

Material durability

The material of the container should be sturdy enough to hold the plant and its soil without being damaged over time. It should also withstand various weather conditions, especially if the greenhouse is not always heated or cooled.

Insulation properties

Some materials used for containers offer insulation properties, which can help regulate the temperature of the soil within, particularly important too for seedlings and sensitive plants. For example, wood and clay are known to have good insulation properties.

Environmental impact

Lastly, consider the environmental footprint of the container material. Recycled or biodegradable containers can be a great choice for eco-conscious gardeners.

Plastic Containers: Pros and Cons

Plastic containers offer convenience through their lightweight nature and robust durability. They come in a myriad of sizes and shapes to suit various plant types.

Lightweight and durable

Being lightweight, plastic containers are easy to move around in your greenhouse as needed. Despite their featherweight profile, these containers are surprisingly durable, withstanding the test of time and varied climatic conditions within your greenhouse.

Variety of sizes and shapes

Whether you’re cultivating tiny succulents or expansive root vegetables, there’s a plastic container out there that will meet your needs. Their availability in a plethora of sizes and shapes means you can also play around with space optimization in your greenhouse.

Potential environmental concerns

Despite their many positives, plastic containers are not without their cons. The production and disposal of plastic contribute to environmental pollution, making these containers less eco-friendly than some alternatives.

Insulation properties

Plastic does not insulate as well as some other materials, like wood or clay. It tends to heat up quickly, which can be harmful to your plants’ roots if not carefully monitored.

Choosing the Best Containers for Greenhouse Gardening

Fabric Pots: Advantages and Considerations

Fabric pots, or grow bags, are a fantastic choice for those aiming for healthier, larger plants.

Enhanced aeration

The permeability of the fabric used in these pots allows for enhanced aeration and superior drainage. This translates to healthier, happier plants due to the prevention of root circling and over watering.

Prevents root circling

Fabric pots are particularly great for root-pruning. When a plant’s roots reach the edge of the pot, they sense the drier soil and air, encouraging them to branch out rather than circle around the pot, leading to a healthier and more robust plant.


Being lightweight, fabric pots are easy to transport, making them a delight for those who like to change plant arrangements frequently.

Durability over time

While initially quite robust, fabric pots may not stand the test of time as well as pots made of other materials. Sunlight and repeated use can cause the fabric to degrade, though premium options can offer improved durability.

Clay or Ceramic Pots: Traditional Choice

Clay or ceramic pots are the classic choice, offering both aesthetic pleasure and practical functionality.

Aesthetic appeal

One distinct advantage of these pots is their aesthetic appeal. Clay pots can grace your greenhouse with an earthy and charming ambiance. They come in various attractive styles, from a rustic aged look to more delicately painted designs.

Natural insulation properties

Clay’s natural insulation properties allows it to protect your plants from rapid changes in temperature, while also ensuring slow and steady moisture evaporation.

Risk of breakage

On the downside, these pots are brittle and can break easily, especially if they’re knocked over or dropped.

Weight considerations

They are also significantly heavier than other types of containers, which might make moving plants around a more challenging task.

Wooden Boxes: Rustic and Functional

Wooden boxes bring a rustic elegance to any greenhouse while providing practical benefits to your plants.

Natural insulation

Like clay, wood is a good insulator that helps maintain a steady temperature within the soil.

Customizable sizes

Wooden boxes can be made to order or DIY-ed, giving you the freedom to customize the size and design of your containers to suit your needs.

Longevity and treatment concerns

While sturdy, these boxes will naturally degrade over time, especially if they’re not properly treated against decay. However, treatments should be chosen carefully to avoid any substances that could be harmful to your plants.

Sustainability aspects

The sustainability of wooden containers depends on the source of the wood, with sustainably sourced and reclaimed wood being the most earth-friendly choice.

Recycled Containers: Eco-Friendly Options

Recycled containers add uniqueness to your greenhouse while reducing your carbon footprint.

Creative use of materials

Never has there been a more opportune moment for your creative juices to flow than when repurposing everyday household items into plant containers. Think, tin cans, old teapots, wicker baskets, or even an old boot!

Reducing environmental impact

Every reused container contributes to reducing the consumption of new materials and minimizing waste.

Consideration for container safety

When repurposing objects, however, ensure they are safe for plant growth. They shouldn’t contain any harmful chemicals and should possess qualities of a good plant pot like drainage capabilities and be large enough to accommodate the plant’s roots.

Preparing containers for planting

Clean your recycled containers thoroughly before repotting, and consider making drainage holes if they’re not already present. This way, you’re less likely to encounter issues with diseases or waterlogging.

Container Maintenance and Care

No matter what type of container you choose for your greenhouse gardening, maintenance is key to ensuring your plants thrive.

Regular cleaning

Tending to the cleanliness of your containers will discourage pests and diseases from setting up shop and also help prolong the shelf life of your containers.

Monitoring for pests

Keep an eye out for pests that may have taken up residence in your containers, especially in crevices and below pot rims.

Container rotation for even growth

Rotate your containers, especially those placed near the edge of the greenhouse, to ensure even exposure to light for all your plants.

Seasonal considerations for container gardening

Certain containers may need additional insulation during colder seasons or shade during summer, depending on their material and the plant’s needs.

Innovations in Container Gardening for Greenhouses

As with all things, technology is making its way into container gardening, making caretaking of your flora that much more manageable and enjoyable.

Self-watering containers

These containers feature a reservoir to hold water and a wick system to ensure your plants get their hydration as needed. They can be a game changer, especially for those instances when you’re unavailable to water your plants.

Smart containers with growth monitoring

Smart containers can monitor your plant’s growth, moisture levels, and other factors, providing real-time feedback and watering reminders via an accompanying app.

Biodegradable containers

Biodegradable containers, usually made from compost, coir, or other organic materials, decompose over time and can thus be planted directly in the ground, making repotting a breeze while reducing waste.

Integrated pest management solutions

Some containers come integrated with pest management systems, such as trap crops or predatory insects, providing a natural way to keep your plants safe.

All in all, the perfect container for greenhouse gardening depends on the specific needs of your plants and your personal preferences. Whether it’s a lightweight and durable plastic pot, an aesthetically pleasing clay pot, a rustic and functional wooden box, or an eco-friendly recycled container, once you consider the size, durability, insulation properties and environmental impact, you are sure to make a choice that’s healthy for your plants and pleasant to you. Happy gardening!