thumb|250px|A_greenhouse_in_Saint Paul, Minnesota.] A greenhouse (also called a glasshouse or hothouse) is a building where plants are cultivated.

A greenhouse is a structure with a glass or plastic roof and frequently glass or plastic walls; it heats up because incoming solar radiation from the sun warms plants, soil, and other things inside the building. Air warmed by the heat from hot interior surfaces is retained in the building by the roof and wall. These structures range in size from small sheds to very large buildings.

Greenhouses can be divided into glass greenhouses and plastic greenhouses. Plastics mostly used are PEfilm and multiwall sheet in PC or PMMA.Commercial glass greenhouses are often high tech production facilities for vegetables or flowers. The glass greenhouses are filled with equipment like screening installations, heating, cooling, lighting and may be automatically controlled by a computer.

The glass used for a greenhouse works as a selective transmission medium for different spectral frequencies, and its effect is to trap energy within the greenhouse, which heats both the plants and the ground inside it. This warms the air near the ground, and this air is prevented from rising and flowing away. This can be demonstrated by opening a small window near the roof of a greenhouse: the temperature drops considerably. This principle is the basis of the autovent automatic cooling system. Greenhouses thus work by trapping electromagnetic radiation and preventing convection. A miniature greenhouse is known as a cold frame.


Greenhouses are often used for growing flowers, vegetables, fruits, and tobacco plants. Bumblebees are the pollinators of choice for most greenhouse pollination, although other types of bees have been used, as well as artificial pollination.This helps the plants to produce more plants for future plantations.

Besides tobacco, many vegetables and flowers are grown in greenhouses in late winter and early spring, and then transplanted outside as the weather warms. Started plants are usually available for gardeners in farmers' markets at transplanting time.

The closed environment of a greenhouse has its own unique requirements, compared with outdoor production. Pests and diseases, and extremes of heat and humidity, have to be controlled, and irrigation is necessary to provide water. Significant inputs of heat and light may be required, particularly with winter production of warm-weather vegetables. Special greenhouse varieties of certain crops, like tomatoes, are generally used for commercial production.

Greenhouses are increasingly important in the food supply of high latitude countries. One of the largest greenhouse complexes in the world is in Almeria, Spain where Greenhouses cover almost convert|50000|acre|km2 and where almost 5% of Spain's salad vegetables are grown. []

Greenhouses protect crops from too much heat or cold, shield plants from dust storms and blizzards, and help to keep out pests. Light and temperature control allows greenhouses to turn inarable land into arable land. Greenhouses can feed starving nations where crops can't survive in the harsh deserts and Arctic wastes. Hydroponics can be used in greenhouses as well to make the most use of the interior space.

Biologist John Todd invented a greenhouse that turns sewage into water, through the natural processes of bacteria, plants, and animals.


The idea of growing plants in environmentally controlled areas has existed since Roman times. The Roman emperor Tiberius ate a cucumber-like [ [ Annals of Botany, doi:10.1093/aob/mcm242 The Cucurbits of Mediterranean Antiquity: Identification of Taxa from Ancient Images and Descriptions. Jules Janick1, Harry S. Paris and David C. Parrish] ] vegetable daily. The Roman gardeners used artificial methods (similar to the greenhouse system) of growing to have it available for his table every day of the year. Cucumbers were planted in wheeled carts which were put in the sun daily, then taken inside to keep them warm at night. [ [ Richmond Oak: An Update On Our History of Conservatory Glass] ] The cucumbers were stored under frames or in cucumber houses glazed with either oiled cloth known as "specularia" or with sheets of mica, according to the description by Pliny the Elder. [ [ rogueclassicism: Roman Greenhouses?] "Cartilaginum generis extraque terram est cucumis, mira voluptate Tiberio principi expetitus. nullo quippe non die contigit ei, pensiles eorum hortos promoventibus in solem rotis olitoribus rursusque hibernis diebus intra specularium munimenta revocantibus"]

The first modern greenhouses were built in Italy in the thirteenth century [ [ Italian Government Tourist Board: Botanical Gardens in Italy] "the first structures of this kind were already founded in the 13th century at the Vatican in Rome and in the 14th century at Salerno, although both are no longer in existence."] to house the exotic plants that explorers brought back from the tropics. They were originally called "giardini botanici" (botanical gardens). The concept of greenhouses soon spread to the Netherlands and then England, along with the plants. Some of these early attempts required enormous amounts of work to close up at night or to winterize. There were serious problems with providing adequate and balanced heat in these early greenhouses.

Jules CharlesWho|date=January 2008, a French botanist, is often credited with building the first practical modern greenhouse in Leiden, Holland to grow medicinal tropical plants.Fact|date=January 2008

Originally on the estates of the rich, with the growth of the science of botany greenhouses spread to the universities. The French called their first greenhouses "orangeries", since they were used to protect orange trees from freezing. As pineapples became popular "pineries", or pineapple pits, were built. Experimentation with the design of greenhouses continued during the Seventeenth Century in Europe as technology produced better glass and construction techniques improved. The greenhouse at the Palace of Versailles was an example of their size and elaborateness; it was more than 500 feet long, 42 feet wide, and 45 feet high.

In the nineteenth Century the largest greenhouses were built. The conservatory at Kew Gardens in England is a prime example of the Victorian greenhouse. Although intended for both horticultural and non-horticultural exhibition these included London's Crystal Palace, the New York Crystal Palace and Munich’s Glaspalast. Joseph Paxton, who had experimented with glass and iron in the creation of large greenhouses as the head gardener at Chatsworth, in Derbyshire, working for the Duke of Devonshire, designed and built the first, London's Crystal Palace. A major architectural achievement in monumental greenhouse building were the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (1874-1895) for King Leopold II of Belgium.

In Japan, the first greenhouse was built in 1880 by Samuel Cocking, a British merchant who exported herbs.

In the Twentieth Century the geodesic dome was added to the many types of greenhouses.


* Woods, May (1988)"Glass houses: history of greenhouses, orangeries and conservatories" Aurum Press, London, ISBN 0-906053-85-4 ;
* Cunningham, Anne S. (2000) "Crystal palaces : garden conservatories of the United States" Princeton Architectural Press, New York, ISBN 1-56898-242-9 ;
* Vleeschouwer, Olivier de (2001) "Greenhouses and conservatories" Flammarion, Paris, ISBN 2-08-010585-X ;
* Lemmon, Kenneth (1963) "The covered garden" Dufour, Philadelphia;
* Muijzenberg, Erwin W B van den (1980) "A history of greenhouses" Institute for Agricultural Engineering, Wageningen, Netherlands;
* [ Enoshima Jinja Shrine Botanical Garden]

See also

* Biosphere 2
* Conservatory (greenhouse)
* Greenhouse effect
* Lord & Burnham (greenhouse manufacturers)
* Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Belgium
* Solar greenhouse (technical)
* Vertical Farming
* Seasonal thermal store


External links

* [ Planning and Building a Greenhouse]
* [ North Carolina State University Greenhouse Food Production website]
* [ Organic Greenhouse Tomato Production]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • greenhouse — [grēn′hous΄] n. a building made mainly of glass, in which the temperature and humidity can be regulated for the cultivation of delicate or out of season plants adj. of or contributing to the greenhouse effect [greenhouse gases] …   English World dictionary

  • greenhouse — 1660s, from GREEN (Cf. green) + HOUSE (Cf. house). Greenhouse effect attested from 1937 …   Etymology dictionary

  • Greenhouse — Green house , n. A house in which tender plants are cultivated and sheltered from the weather. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • greenhouse — ► NOUN ▪ a glass building in which plants that need protection from cold weather are grown …   English terms dictionary

  • greenhouse — /green hows /, n., pl. greenhouses / how ziz/. a building, room, or area, usually chiefly of glass, in which the temperature is maintained within a desired range, used for cultivating tender plants or growing plants out of season. [1655 65; GREEN …   Universalium

  • greenhouse — [[t]gri͟ːnhaʊs[/t]] greenhouses 1) N COUNT A greenhouse is a glass building in which you grow plants that need to be protected from bad weather. 2) ADJ: ADJ n Greenhouse means relating to or causing the greenhouse effect. ...the consequences of… …   English dictionary

  • greenhouse — I. noun Date: 1664 1. a structure enclosed (as by glass) and used for the cultivation or protection of tender plants 2. a clear plastic shell (as a canopy) covering a section of an airplane; also a compartment (as for a bombardier) enclosed by… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • greenhouse — n. a light structure with the sides and roof mainly of glass, for rearing delicate plants or hastening the growth of plants. Phrases and idioms: greenhouse effect the trapping of the sun s warmth in the lower atmosphere of the earth caused by an… …   Useful english dictionary

  • greenhouse — UK [ˈɡriːnˌhaʊs] / US [ˈɡrɪnˌhaʊs] noun [countable] Word forms greenhouse : singular greenhouse plural greenhouses a building made of glass that is used for growing plants that need protection from the weather …   English dictionary

  • greenhouse — /ˈgrinhaʊs / (say greenhows) noun 1. a building, chiefly of glass, for the cultivation or protection of plants. –adjective 2. of or relating to the greenhouse effect: greenhouse issues …   Australian English dictionary

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