If you are gardening year-round, and you have a greenhouse, knowing the best greenhouse plants to grow is important! Whether you’d like to sow seeds ahead of growing seasons, increase humidity in the desert, or your climate doesn’t allow trees to produce certain fruits, greenhouse gardening is a fun and rewarding task that will help you accomplish goals you couldn’t otherwise accomplish outdoors.
Enjoying greenhouse fruits or greenhouse flowers in the dead of winter is awesome. Growing fresh herbs when it’s frozen outside allows you to incorporate those in teas and cooking even when everything outside is dead!
Watching plants grow in a heated greenhouse is a great endeavor for adults and kids alike. You can turn your greenhouse into a heated oasis in cold weather, or even an educational space for learning more about the environment.
What if your controlled environment is air-conditioned and meant for the healthy growth of cool-weather plants in warm temperatures? Being able to enjoy these crops in summer is great too! An unheated structure that gets six to eight hours of full sunlight or six to eight hours of supplemental lighting will support the healthy growth of your favorite plants.
Whatever the reason for greenhouse growing, there are plenty of options for you. We’ve separated this piece into 6 sections so you can cater the greenhouse environment to the needs of your preferred plants. Now, here are 50 plants you can grow in a greenhouse!
Warm Season Crops
Watering tomatoes in a greenhouse bed.
Your vegetable garden can be full of mature plants as soon as the soil temperature is warm enough – that is, if your greenhouse temperature is suited to these easy-to-grow plants. Here are a few warm-season crops you can grow in a greenhouse all year, or ahead of the season.
You may want to look at the types of tomatoes that grow best in your region if you’re planning to plant them out when the weather warms up. Alternatively, keep them in your greenhouse and produce fruit all the time! Remember to give them lots of sun and nutrients and prune indeterminates to keep them in check.
Long-season plants like eggplants need to be started in seed trays ahead of the growing season in most areas. Because they grow slowly, sow eggplant seeds in winter to transplant in early spring. Growing eggplant allows you to get more fruits before the plant’s life cycle ends.
Greenhouses with supplemental heat are, in fact, great for growing beans in winter. Here, they grow quickly, and beautifully. There are tons of bean types and cultivars to choose from. When you’re deciding how to grow beans, look for disease-resistant varieties that won’t spread those common indoor diseases to other greenhouse plants.
Here’s a bit of a wild card! Grow your own tropical peppercorn plant and have access to black peppercorns! This one is a long-haul plant for patient gardeners who don’t mind waiting 4 years.
Whether you’re interested in growing bell peppers, ornamental peppers, jalapeno peppers, or even overwintering peppers, greenhouses are suited to all of the above. Bell peppers especially need a long lead time ahead of the growing season.
A warmer greenhouse with high temperatures is perfect for peppers of all kinds.
Cucurbit crops mature quickly and produce some of your favorite fruits, like cucumbers! You can grow cucumber varieties that resist disease to prevent diseases overall inside your greenhouse. Those in colder regions will find they get the best harvest of cukes by growing them in large containers in a greenhouse.
Bush varieties do well in a large container, and vining types need a trellis. Check the variety you’re growing to ensure you’ve provided adequate space and support.
Whether you want to grow the perennial herb called garlic chives or you simply want to regrow green onions you’ve used in the kitchen, alliums are great for greenhouses. Garlic, leeks, and even elephant garlic apply here too! Put them in pots with other plants and provide them with lots of organic materials to grow in.
Companion planting isn’t just for outdoor growing. Throw your alliums in with your tomatoes, or build a small herb bed in your greenhouse where chives, onions, thyme, and dill can grow together.
African violet plant in a greenhouse.
Maybe you’d like to grow hot weather plants in a greenhouse where they’ll live next to your tomatoes and ripe fruits in winter. As long as you have good air circulation, your plants will thrive! Let’s discuss a few heat lovers. Some you can enjoy in food, and some are eye candy.
It’s definitely possible to outfit much of your greenhouse to cacti and succulents, providing them with the heat they need to be happy. Learn how to propagate them, and you’ll have a way to distributing them too.
If you have asthma, you may opt to grow African violet plants in greenhouses, where the soil won’t irritate your lungs. Here, you want to check them often for common greenhouse pests and powdery mildew. The environment in this space will support them well.
You could easily fill your greenhouse with haworthia succulent types, because there are so many that come in varying colors and styles. A greenhouse is a great place to learn to grow succulents in general.
For juice, dressing wounds, and otherwise enjoying its fleshy leaves, greenhouses are suited to growing aloe. Because aloe vera plant care is easy, you have no trouble growing them in well-draining soil.
If you want to add a dash of wild and weird to your greenhouse, try the coral cactus – the one we’ve deemed the Frankenstein of the succulent world. Give it lots of air circulation inside the greenhouse, and both you and the cactus will be happy!
Another plant that loves well-draining soils is lithops, also called the living stone plant. These are great for a small space greenhouse. On the flip side, you can grow several kinds in one larger container.
I’ve seen several holiday cacti thrive in greenhouse settings in cold weather. Many gardeners enjoy the lovely Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, and Easter cactus, especially when they put on their respective holiday blooms. All of these will need part shade or a spot outside of the direct sun.
The bromeliad guzmania should also be kept out of full daylight and direct sun. If they don’t flower, try giving them a little more light. Water regularly too, for bright red flowers.
Hibiscus types number in the hundreds! These heat lovers grow in so many different settings. You can have one that prefers nutrient-rich soil, and even one that grows in water. Your greenhouse is a great place for these when it’s too cold to grow them outdoors.
Certain cultivars are great for making hibiscus tea, which is packed with Vitamin C.
The temperate shampoo ginger plant produces a lather that is often used as an alternative to shampoo! If you’re not growing it yet, I suggest starting it in very rich soil with lots of organic matter. Make sure it’s in a large container with well-draining soil, and you’ll have plant shampoo all year!
Growing an ice plant in a greenhouse is definitely something that happens at my local native nursery year-round. Like most succulents, ice plants do well in warm and semi-humid environments out of direct sun.
Vanilla orchids climbing up a greenhouse wall.
Maybe you live in an arid climate, but you’d love to have some tropicals around. A greenhouse, therefore, is an excellent tool for caring for plants that need higher humidity percentages. In a warm climate, even an unheated greenhouse can work for this purpose.
Varying types of orchids require different growing substrates and conditions. You can learn how to grow vanilla and have your own source of vanilla bean. Most orchids need a warm soil temperature or warm environment with high humidity, but do some research on the type you have before plopping it in your greenhouse. They are suited to gardeners who like a challenge!
Ficus audrey, Ficus benjamina, and Ficus elastica (or the rubber tree plant) are perfect here. Each has its own striking look and tropical feel. The humid environment of a greenhouse will keep them happy, too.
In lieu of keeping it around a humidifier, grow your taro plant in a greenhouse. Give it an acidic soil with lots of nutrition, from a source like well-rotted manure, and you can harvest taro roots all year!
Tons of different ferns love high-humidity areas in somewhat shadier parts of the greenhouse. Rabbit’s foot fern, staghorn fern, and bird’s nest fern appreciate temperate woodland environments that can be easily simulated in a shadier greenhouse.
Want a botanical garden feel in your home greenhouse? Try growing Spanish moss, also known as Tillandsia usneoides! Hang tree branches covered in moss along the top of your greenhouse, and spritz it when it’s dry to refresh it. As long as it’s not in direct sunlight or too much heat, it will thrive!
Like Spanish moss, the goldfish plant can hang from the rafters or top shelves of a warm, humid greenhouse and shade out certain areas for plants that get singed in direct sunlight. Imagine the plant spilling over the sides of the greenhouse among your orchids!
Low Chill Hours Trees and Shrubs
Citrus trees in a greenhouse.
Your greenhouse is a great environment for growing fruit with a low chill hour requirement. Many citrus fruit are perfect for greenhouses in this regard. In colder, wetter areas (like the Pacific Northwest), you may need supplemental heat to keep citrus healthy. This also helps you avoid greenhouse diseases, like gray mold.
Meyer lemons are a huge greenhouse plant in areas that lack winter heat. You can grow them alongside your tomatoes in spring for the entire year. Meyer lemon tree care is pretty easy among other citrus plants, but for a more interesting lemon, try the pink lemonade tree.
If limes are more your style, and you enjoy them in cooking more than lemons, they work very well in a heated greenhouse too! There are plenty of lime tree varieties to choose from, and most can withstand brief periods of 40°F.
If you don’t have a greenhouse with heat, yuzu is a great choice. The yuzu tree can handle cold down to 21°F, making it an excellent plant to grow in a place with brief periods of freezing weather. The sour-sweet taste of this citrus is hard to beat too.
Into tiny citrus snacks? A kumquat tree might be for you! This is yet another cold-tolerant tree that can withstand temperatures down to 18°F. Most greenhouses have enough thermal mass to keep the tree in a heat above that range, though.
I’ve seen loquats grow in zone 8 outdoors easily! However, the greenhouse may offer more heat than the outdoors can. In a humid greenhouse, check your loquat tree for fungal diseases. Let the soil dry between waterings somewhat to prevent molds, and make sure the soil is well-drained.
A mandarin tree can also take a bit of cool weather around 40°F. Just like the other trees listed here, you’ll want to provide well-drained soil, and a heat source when cold weather kicks in.
The clementine tree with its super cute fruit can take a little bit of cold too, but it definitely doesn’t need it! They like a little bit of extra humid air as well, so placing a clementine in a greenhouse with your tropical plants will give it just the boost it needs.
Navel oranges and juicing oranges are both awesome plants for a greenhouse. Both can handle a little bit of cold, and the heat is no issue at all. Keep them next to your summer vegetables and tomatoes, put them in sandy, loamy soil, and they will do quite well.
This interesting citrus is shaped like a hand, with several finger-like protrusions. Its flavor is akin to a cross between yuzu, lemon, and citron. Unlike other citrus trees, you should not let the soil dry between waterings. Neglecting to keep the soil moist will result in dropped flowers and developing fruit.
The fruits of the finger lime tree produce what we’ve called the caviar of citrus, with small beads that are packed with sweet citrusy flavor. Depending on the variety, you’ll have varying ratios of each.
You can prune these to shape them, and as long as they’re planted in well-draining soil, you’re set.
Commonly growing at a small stature outside its native range is the papaya tree, which is perfect for a humid greenhouse. Typically these trees grow under the canopy of tropical rainforests, so you’ll need a bit of cover to keep them out of direct sunlight. Papaya trees are generally short-lived, but their seeds are highly viable!
You might be thinking, what? Grape vines in a greenhouse? It’s totally possible! This requires quite a bit of effort, and may be better suited to gardeners who like a challenge. However, there are three ways to do this.
You can plant the vine outside the greenhouse, and train it to grow inside its bounds. You could also plant the vine within the greenhouse, either in the ground or in a pot. Giving your vines lots of room to grow, and tons of sun is the best bet here. You need to prune them properly too!
Grapes vines will live for a long time, upwards of 100 years. Therefore, if you don’t want them growing in the ground, try growing grapes in a large container that can accommodate their roots.
Herbs in a small greenhouse.
Maybe you’d love to incorporate those heat-loving Mediterranean herbs in your cooking, but it’s too cold outside for a harvest. Perhaps you’re interested in growing herbs for making soaps, lotions, and essential oils? Here are several herbs you can grow inside a greenhouse when the outdoor weather isn’t supportive.
Growing lavender is a worthwhile endeavor no matter how you do it. Once you have an established plant, you won’t need to water. Give it full sun, and it will take off. Grow lights can be used to supplement sunlight if necessary.
Not only is growing rosemary possible in a greenhouse, but you can also propagate rosemary in a greenhouse too! Use a heated propagator or even a non-heated propagator, like the EZ Clone Propagation System. Established rosemary grows in warmer and cooler weather easily.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve chosen creeping thyme, lemon thyme, or wooly thyme. As long as you have a little bit of heat and give your thyme some attention you’ll have this lovely aromatic herb in your greenhouse with no problems.
One of the easiest herbs to grow is mint. Growing mint indoors is pretty simple, and so is growing mint in a greenhouse! Again, warmth is important here. Plenty of light and water will help.
For a little sweet and spicy throughout the year, marjoram has you covered. Keep these plants in a spot where they aren’t subject to cold, and they will take off. Be careful watering as you’re growing marjoram plants, as they are prone to developing root rot.
Growing basil is one of my favorite things to do in spring and summer. When cold weather arrives I’m always sad to see my basil plants turn to brown dead sticks. That’s why growing basil is excellent for greenhouses.
While you don’t want it to get too hot in your greenhouse when you’re growing cilantro a little bit of temperate climate will do it just fine! Keep it around 75°F in your greenhouse to prevent bolting.
Growing dill doesn’t require heat as much as it requires plenty of sun or supplemental light. It’s a cold-hardy herb that can take temps of 25°F, so don’t worry much about maintaining temperature and irrigation.
Peas, leafy greens, and other cool-weather crops in a greenhouse
If you live in a place with warm winters and a short autumn, an air-conditioned greenhouse can help you get a head start on those fall and winter crops. You can also sow seeds in a warm greenhouse to grow your winter plants if you deal with subfreezing temperatures. Just remember that on particularly warm days, you’ll want to monitor the temperature and ensure it’s cool enough for your plants.
Growing brussels sprouts is pretty simple! The one thing your brussels sprouts need is plenty of water and fertilizer. This will give you the best sprouts at the end of the season.
Much like brussels, growing broccoli requires plenty of water, and a little bit of fertilizer to make it happen. Give them lots of sun, and you’ll have tiny trees to feast upon at the end of the season.
Whether it’s kale varieties, Swiss chard, or cabbage, growing leafy greens is pretty easy. For certain kales and chards, you may even be able to care for a perennial plant with a temperate climate in a greenhouse.
Cabbage generally gives you one harvest. All need rich soil, good irrigation, sunlight, and a little fertilizer.
Growing potatoes in a bucket is a great tactic for healthy spuds! If you maintain a temperate to moderately cool climate in your greenhouse, you can successively plant them and obtain multiple harvests throughout the cold season. There are baby varieties that will produce tiny potatoes as well.
It could be snap peas, snow peas, or even English peas. Learning how to grow peas will not only provide sweet crunchy veggies for cooking, it will also help you develop a relationship with a nitrogen fixer! Many varieties can withstand light frosts, so a warm environment is not absolutely necessary.
Because it tends to bolt in warm weather, growing lettuce in a greenhouse that’s cool to moderately temperate is a great way to have salad on-hand even when it’s snowing outside. Lettuce does like a lot of moisture and some fertilizer, so remember to stay on top of that.
Growing strawberries doesn’t require heat, as most are adapted to cooler weather. You will have to establish them one year, and expect a harvest in the subsequent year, so this is a task for more patient gardeners. You may get a harvest the first year, but it won’t be as substantial as the next.
Frequently Asked Questions
A selection of plants in a greenhouse.
Q: What can I grow in a greenhouse for beginners?
A: Any of the most popular crops apply here. Tomatoes, greens, peppers, alliums, and many herbs are perfect for beginners.
Q: What not to put in a greenhouse?
A: If your greenhouse is typically warm and humid, avoid growing plants that tend to contract diseases in warm and humid weather. For a cool, dryer greenhouse, avoid growing plants that like humidity.
Q: What grows best in an unheated greenhouse?
A: Starting your winter crops in an unheated greenhouse is a great way to get ahead of the fall and winter growing seasons. The same is true of plants you’re starting in advance of the spring. Monitor the temperature inside the greenhouse, and avoid opening it after dusk to ensure any warmth from the sun will linger through the night.
Q: Can you grow plants in a greenhouse all year round?
A: There are certain plants that will grow all year round in a greenhouse. This largely depends on the plants and the conditions inside the greenhouse.
Q: How can I heat my greenhouse for free in winter?
A: Let the sun do the work for you, heating a sealed, plastic-coated greenhouse via thermal mass.
Q: What plants can grow quickly in a greenhouse?
A: Tomatoes, squash, beans, and peas will all grow quickly in a warm greenhouse.
Q: Should a greenhouse be in full sun all day?
A: Especially if you’re trying to use thermal mass to your advantage, placing the greenhouse in full sun is important. Face it as close to the North/South axis as you can.
Q: Will plants be OK in unheated greenhouse?
A: Again, this depends on the plant, but there are several plants that will do just fine in an unheated greenhouse.