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The 9 Best Mini Greenhouses For Growing Herbs, Starting Seeds & More

Heather Bien
mbg Contributor
By Heather Bien
mbg Contributor
Heather Bien is a freelance writer currently living in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. from the University of Virginia, and has written for Apartment Therapy, MyDomaine, HelloGiggles, StyleBlueprint, The Knot, The Everygirl, and other lifestyle websites.
Image by L Feddes / iStock
Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.
May 31, 2022

Perhaps you're eager to get your spring garden started, but you're still facing unpredictable cold spells. Or maybe your vegetables are thriving in early fall and you're sure you could get a few more months out of them if you didn't have to watch out for that first frost. In these situations, there's an answer—and it's not giving up on your plants.

Here's your guide to the best mini greenhouse that will create optimal conditions for your greenery year-round.

What is a mini greenhouse?

Mini greenhouses are a climate-controlled solution that you can use when ideal growing conditions can't be achieved.

They come in various functional and space-efficient styles (everything from a tabletop setup to a sizable walk-in greenhouse) that can be set up indoors or outdoors.

Whether you choose to bring in vegetables, flowers, herbs, or greenery, a greenhouse lets you continue to enjoy the beauty and harvest long after the natural season in your area has ended.

Bloomscape's gardening expert, Lindsay Pangborn, explains, "Mini greenhouses are a smaller version of cold-frame houses, used to extend the growing season. Plants are able to grow and bloom during earlier periods of the spring and can continue to do so even when the weather gets chillier in the fall."

Mini greenhouses can also be helpful for germinating seeds in spring, Angelo Kelvakis, master horticulturist at Rise Gardens, explains. Their warm, moist environment can help tiny seedlings grow strong before it gets warm enough to plant them outside.

Plus, if you're looking to turn your home into a plant paradise, Ayelet Faerman of Verdant Lyfe adds, "Small greenhouses are a great way to enhance your decor and bring plants inside while giving them optimal living conditions."

How do mini greenhouses work?

Whether it's on a tabletop or in a backyard, a greenhouse is an enclosed structure that has stable ventilation, a steady temperature, and other critical elements plants need to thrive.

Often, the greenhouse is constructed of glass or plastic, with a seal that can be easily opened and closed. When sealed, it allows sunlight or artificial light to trap in heat and humidity for optimal growing conditions.

Kelvakis explains, "This environment promotes plant growth by elevating the temperature and humidity and keeps them in a constant range, which is very important for early-stage growth."

Whether it's a corner of your backyard or a corner of your kitchen (the perfect spot for herbs!), a mini greenhouse can reside wherever you have space. It works with the home you have rather than the garden you dream of (someday!).

What to look for in a mini greenhouse.

Size

Your biggest decision when choosing a mini greenhouse is the size you want to commit to. Do you have room in your yard for a small walk-in greenhouse? Would you prefer something that can live on a counter in your kitchen?

Material

For all their different sizes and uses, greenhouses also come in a variety of materials, though, as Kelvakis explains, "They tend to fall into two categories: plastic and easy to move or glass and more permanent." Besides being heavier-duty, glass greenhouses also tend to be sturdier and pricer. You'll also find lightweight aluminum options for an in-between solution.

Closure

The closure on your greenhouse is essentially your temperature control. On a plastic greenhouse, a zipper is effective at sealing in the heat. Avoid Velcro, as it may not seal fully, throwing off your optimal conditions.

A glass structure should have rubber seals and vents in addition to high-quality hinges to ensure a properly insulated environment. 

Shelving

More isn't always better when it comes to shelving. Consider the type of plants that will live in your greenhouse and determine the number and height of the shelves that will best suit your plants' dimensions. 

Care required

Hyland points out that ease of use is critical, "You don't want a greenhouse that is difficult to set up or take down." Also, some may require more regular cleaning than others. Look carefully at the care instructions, and weigh those against the time you want to dedicate to greenhouse gardening.

The extras

A basic greenhouse is great, but there are so many tempting ways to go extra. You can find a greenhouse with hooks for hanging plants, a built-in grow light, a potting bench, and even fans and hoses. Decide what you need to live your best gardening life, and choose the best greenhouse accordingly. 

How we picked

Function

Spanning a range of walk-in, tabletop, indoor, and outdoor mini greenhouses, these are the best recommendations for amateur and seasoned gardeners alike.

Durability

We chose highly rated options that provide the material, latch system, and durability required for a mini greenhouse that's going to get a lot of plant love.

Price

Whether you're looking to shell out or save, there's a greenhouse for your budget on our list.

Size

Since everyone has different space restrictions, we made sure to provide a variety of greenhouse sizes and shapes.

mbg's picks for the best mini greenhouses in 2022

Best for winter: Aosom Outsunny Aluminum Greenhouse

Aosom Outsunny Aluminum Greenhouse
VIEW ON Aosom | $340

Pros:

  • Sturdy

Cons:

  • Requires a fair amount of space
  • Pricey

This windproof lean-to-wall design protects plants from the cold year-round. You can leave this in your backyard or on your patio or balcony and grow warm-weather vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers throughout the seasons. Made of durable aluminum, it's meant to stay in place and also comes with four stakes for extra stability.

A sliding door allows easy access for walk-in planting, while the adjustable window provides ventilation. 

Best for a starter herb garden: OGrow® Mini Greenhouse

OGrow® Mini Greenhouse
VIEW ON Wayfair | $42

Pros:

  • Lightweight and easy to move

Cons:

  • Limited size

This compact mini greenhouse is made for starting seeds, particularly as you look toward the spring and summer herb seasons. The lightweight design is easy to assemble, yet it's sturdy enough to protect a few plants from harsh weather. Start your plants indoors or out, then watch them grow until they're ready to transplant to your garden.

Best portable: Home-Complete Mini Greenhouse

Home-Complete Mini Greenhouse
VIEW ON Amazon | $56

Pros:

  • Fits a lot of plants
  • Easy to move, with locking wheels
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Cannot support heavier plants

With four tiers of shelves, this mini greenhouse gives you room to grow a variety of herbs, vegetables, indoor plants, and more—though reviewers note that its shelves are better suited for starting seeds than heavier plants.

Rotate your plants out with the season, and take advantage of the locking wheels to move the greenhouse around, depending on light needs throughout the day. With a PVC cover, it also protects your plants, along with creating an ideal climate for their needs.

An added bonus: No tools are required to assemble this all-season indoor-outdoor greenhouse!

Best for beginner gardeners: Educational Insights GreenThumb Greenhouse

Educational Insights GreenThumb Greenhouse
VIEW ON Amazon | $61

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Space efficient

Cons:

  • Not as sturdy as a glass greenhouse

Enjoy all the perks of a larger greenhouse, but on a small scale with this charming greenhouse. It's composed of just two pieces—a metal frame and vinyl cover—and the perfect option for beginner gardeners looking to start with small potted plants, including herbs and vegetables. At 3 feet wide and 19 inches deep, it's the ideal footprint for a classroom, kitchen, or balcony setting (indoor or out). Use it to teach kids how to take care of plants or uncover the science behind how a greenhouse works.

Best for starting seeds: Mini Greenhouse 4 Tier Indoor-Outdoor

Mini Greenhouse 4 Tier Indoor-Outdoor
VIEW ON Amazon | $39

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to put together

Cons:

  • Cannot support heavier plants
  • Needs to be secured if set up outside

When you want to get a head-start on your spring veggies, this four-tier portable greenhouse lets you begin your seedling indoors, even when you're still facing below-freezing temperatures outside. The lightweight metal structure has a zippered roll-up door, and screened ventilation allows for ideal climate control. 

Once the weather warms up, you can easily move it outside to allow your plants to continue to grow, though you may need to secure it so it doesn't get disturbed by the wind. At over 5 feet tall, it holds a large number of plants and is great on patios, decks, and more.

Best for large plants: Mini Walk-In Greenhouse

Mini Walk-In Greenhouse
VIEW ON Amazon | $50

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Open layout for larger plants

Cons:

  • Needs to be secured if set up outside

If you have large plants that need to spend the winter in a warm, humid environment, look no further than this walk-in greenhouse. It's made for plants that need a roomy home and allows you to control their climate through ventilation, humidity, water, and more.

The greenhouse requires no tools to set up or break down, so you can bring it out as the chill sets in each winter to keep your plants safe, then store it again when the temperature rises. Reviewers do note that it is not strong enough to stand up to a heavy breeze, so you'll want to find a way to secure it outdoors.

Best walk-in: OGrow® Walk-in Greenhouse

OGrow® Walk-in Greenhouse
VIEW ON Amazon | $54

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Fits lots of plants

Cons:

  • Cannot support heavier plants
  • Needs to be secured if set up outside

With shelves on either side, this walk-in greenhouse gives avid gardeners plenty of room for growing a variety of plants in a full sun environment. With a roll-up door and easy-to-use closures, it's a budget-friendly way to keep your plants in colder weather or start your spring or summer garden early—though you may want to reinforce it against wind and be careful when placing heavier plants on its wire shelves.

Best budget-friendly: Ikea Socker Greenhouse

Ikea Socker Greenhouse
VIEW ON Ikea | $21.99

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Compact

Cons:

  • Difficult to set up

At just $22, Faerman says, "The Ikea cabinet needs some modifications to work but is the best bang for your buck long term." This small steel greenhouse is perfect for tabletop gardeners, with just enough room for several small plants or a grouping of seedlings as you get plants ready for their spring debut outdoors.

It easily fits on a kitchen counter, giving you room to have on-demand fresh herbs year-round. Reviewers note that it's also a nice option for protecting plants from curious pets, though the metal frame is a bit of a pain to put together.

Best for outdoor patios: Hampton 5' Mini Greenhouse

Hampton 5' Mini Greenhouse
VIEW ON Hampton | $894

Pros:

  • Sturdy
  • Can accommodate a variety of plants

Cons:

  • Requires a fair amount of space
  • Pricey

At 5 feet wide and nearly 6 feet tall, the Hampton Mini Greenhouse is not necessarily full size, but it is large enough that you'll probably want an outdoor space that accommodates the larger footprint. With toughened safety glass, wall and ground fixing, and an aluminum structure, it's made to withstand the elements. While the greenhouse is designed to be placed against a wall, it also comes with an optional glass back if needed.

Great for gardeners who plan on growing a variety of plants, the model has six seed tray shelves, middle staging, and a two-tier watering system. Although pricier, the durable design is bound to last for years.

What can you plant in a mini greenhouse?

With heat and humidity carefully controlled, most warm-weather plants will thrive in a greenhouse, Kelvakis says, including:

  • Herbs: Basil, mint, thyme, cilantro
  • Vegetables: Tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, onion, cabbage, peppers
  • Fruits: Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries

Again, if you're starting vegetables and herbs from seed, a mini greenhouse is a great option. Jason White, the CEO of All About Gardening, says, "Basil can be a very sensitive plant to grow, especially when it is young. Starting it out in a mini greenhouse will give it a layer of protection to allow it to reach maturity first."

Faerman adds that she loves seeing her tropical plants come alive year-round in a greenhouse.

Tips & tricks to try.

Once you've chosen your greenhouse and secured your plants, here are some final tips to ensure a thriving setup:

  • "No matter what [greenhouse] size or material you choose, be sure to get a good temp/humidity sensor, and be sure to check on your plants to make sure they are growing and thriving," says Kelvakis. You can snag a sensor online for around $10.
  • In terms of temperature, Kelvakis says anything between 65ºF and 85ºF is ideal.
  • Greenhouses need direct sunlight in order to properly function, so keep yours near a window if storing it indoors.

The takeaway.

Whether you're looking to extend your harvest season, always have fresh herbs on hand for your favorite recipes, or admire your flowering plants year-round, a mini greenhouse makes that possible. These nine options are a great place to start showing off your green thumb.

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Heather Bien
Heather Bien
mbg Contributor

Heather Bien is a freelance writer currently living in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. from the University of Virginia, and has written for Apartment Therapy, MyDomaine, HelloGiggles, StyleBlueprint, The Knot, The Everygirl, and other lifestyle websites. She writes about home and lifestyle, personal development, relationships, and more.