Purchasing a greenhouse for use in cold climates isn’t as straightforward as shopping for more moderate regions. Materials must be able to withstand freezing temperatures while maintaining the most optimal possible growing conditions for plants.
Furthermore, colder climates often present other significant challenges such as wind, hail, and heavy snow. These extreme weather patterns can stress the structure itself and require a high level of resilience to impact and weight. According to the University of Vermont, 4 inches of snow can add up to 5.2 pounds per square foot to the top of a greenhouse, and there’s an increased risk of collapse if snow is unevenly distributed due to wind.
In 2019, a greenhouse in Great Falls, Montana, collapsed after snow accumulated on the roof during a particularly harsh winter.
Even though the owners of the farm were professionals and aware of the challenges of winter weather, they still suffered a loss due to this preventable issue.
Insulation and Coverings
The ideal panel material will allow sufficient sunlight to enter the greenhouse without compromising the structure’s insulating properties. Inefficient greenhouses cost extra money to heat and consume more fuel, which can cancel out the positive environmental effect of growing crops at home.
Polycarbonate and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) panels are among the best materials since they’re durable, well-insulated, and translucent enough to properly diffuse sunlight.
Thicker panels have a higher insulating factor and retain more heat, and some greenhouse manufacturers offer both twin-wall and triple-wall versions for customers with different needs.
Generally speaking, polyethylene film is the least efficient covering, followed by single-pane glass and thinner forms of polycarbonate.
Although double-pane storm glass performs well and is comparable to 8mm triple-wall polycarbonate panels, the cost and fragility can make it a less appealing option for areas with unpredictable weather.
Lastly, from a cosmetic standpoint, HDPE has the advantage of increased resistance to scratching. This is key if you anticipate clearing off snow with a stiff-bristled brush or scraper since polyethylene is more susceptible to scratching and superficial damage.
The Best Solexx Greenhouses for Cold Climates
If you live in a cold weather climate, choose Solexx greenhouse kits with 5mm panels instead of the 3.5mm panels.
In addition to the superior insulation and heat retention, the 5mm greenhouse panels are specifically designed to accommodate areas with heavy snow and high altitudes.
The Solexx 5mm greenhouse panels are also available in bulk roll sizes.
The Garden Master is perfect for small gardening operations or hobbyists who need a reliable greenhouse with enough ceiling clearance for trellis plants like tomatoes. The 6’6” walls rise to a peak of 8’9”.
The composite frame is built with stability in mind and will remain free of rust and mildew even in wet conditions.
This freestanding greenhouse also has four bench frames and a pair of hanging rods to accommodate a range of herbs, vegetables, and flowers.
With a weight limit of 500 pounds and 200 pounds, respectively, there’s ample space to grow a variety of plants, which is essential when outdoor conditions are too harsh for much of the year.
Space is plentiful in the Gardener’s Oasis, where you’ll have two double-tiered bench frames and two rods that run the full length of the structure. Thanks to the efficient layout, that means you’ll have 76 square feet of growing area from the bench frames alone.
The Gardener’s Oasis also comes with advanced double-wall HDPE paneling that’s capable of flexing in response to high winds.
The louvered vent and base vents also allow you to control the airflow within the greenhouse and manage temperature fluctuations from day to day. We recommend the deluxe package which includes the tie down kit for added security.
The Harvester has a unique lean-to design that can stand alone or be placed adjacent to a fence, wall, or other vertical surface. This model includes over 15 feet of hanging rods and almost 60 square feet in built-in bench frames.
We recommend the deluxe option which comes standard with durable wire shelves, steel fittings, and a tie-down kit.
In fact, the Harvester, and all other Solexx greenhouses, are so sturdy that they don’t require a special foundation to stay standing even in windy areas.
The Best Mont Greenhouses for Cold Climates
With a customer base that includes agencies like the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, it’s no wonder that the Monticello greenhouses by Riverstone Industries is packed with features for even the most formidable climates.
One of the clearest ways that Mont greenhouses distinguish themselves is through the use of high-quality extruded aluminum that’s made in the United States and treated with a lead-free coating.
On average, Mont greenhouses use over 40 extra pounds of aluminum compared to imported models, and they can withstand up to 24 pounds of snow per square foot and winds of up to 65 miles per hour.
The twin-wall polycarbonate panels have the dual function of cooling the greenhouse during warmer times of year and serving as insulation during the winter.
This makes them more versatile for year-round use and extends the growing season beyond cold weather only.
The Mont Greenhouse Premium includes a host of deluxe upgrades to make your growing experience more convenient. The 8mm light-diffusing panels prevent plant damage by dispersing sunlight evenly throughout the space.
This saves time and energy spent chasing hotspots, although there is an adjustable interior shade system if there’s a reason to block off a portion of the greenhouse.
This top-of-the-line model is available with an 8-foot width and lengths of up to 24 feet.
The commercial-grade materials reduce the heating costs for such an open space, and the programmable irrigation system eliminates potential heat loss from having to manually open the door to activate the system.
The Mont Greenhouse Growers has the same reliable 8mm light-diffusing panels as the Mont Greenhouse Premium but adds one notable enhancement that makes it especially valuable in the winter—a 17,000 BTU commercial heating system.
This heat source can help maintain a comfortable environment for you and your plants while you work.
Having a secondary heat source also ensures that you can compensate for changes in the weather or the amount of sunlight that makes it into the greenhouse.
For example, during a sudden storm, the lack of sunlight could cause temperatures to rapidly drop and endanger your garden. But with a permanently installed heater already included in the greenhouse, there’s no need to scramble at the last minute to find a compensatory measure until the sun starts shining again.
For more winter weather greenhouse ideas, browse our selection of climate controlled greenhouses for more ideas.