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How to Orient a Greenhouse to the Sun

Mont Greenhouse

Greenhouses are a fantastic way to extend your growing season. The key to maximizing your plant growth is correctly orienting your greenhouse to capture as much sunlight as possible.

Whether a greenhouse is positioned towards the north, south, east, or west will directly impact your growing success inside the greenhouse.

As a rule, the length of the greenhouse (the longest side) should be south facing. Avoid shady areas that hinder direct sunlight more than six hours a day.

Positioning the greenhouse in an undeveloped area free of shade trees and facing the south is the best way to harness the sun’s energy for your plants.

Regional Differences

Orienting a greenhouse to the best region is a key factor in successful greenhouse gardening. Whether the greenhouse is free-standing or attached to a house or other building can influence how it is oriented to the sun.

Either way, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each region.


Make sure the length of the greenhouse faces the south or the west so that maximum levels of heat and sunlight reach the greenhouse.


If it is not possible to position the greenhouse towards the south, the next best option is the west. Intense afternoon sunshine from the west needs to be able to reach the greenhouse and is great for those heat-loving plants.


Eastern sunshine is the most intense in the morning. While not as intense as southern or western sunlight, orienting a greenhouse to the eastern sun can be effective for cool-weather plants.


Greenhouses typically should not face the north. If it is unavoidable, only cool-weather, shade-loving plants will be able to do well.

Avoid trying to grow summer crops in a north-facing greenhouse.

Plant considerations

While there are several factors that can influence a plant's success, the greatest factor is the amount of sunlight the plant can access inside the greenhouse.

It is important to consider the types of crops you plan to grow and let the plants’ need dictate the type of greenhouse orientation that is best.

For instance, cool weather plants, such as lettuce or carrots, do not require much light and may thrive in an east-facing structure.

Other plants such as hostas, primrose, and hydrangeas may do well in greenhouses oriented to the eastern sun.

On the other hand, warm weather crops like pepper, tomatoes, and green beans tend to thrive in southern or western-facing greenhouses.

Impact of Greenhouse Glazing

Greenhouses are designed with different types of glazing.  Popular glazing options include polycarbonate, plastic, and glass. 

Choosing the best material for your greenhouse can help maximize the benefits of your greenhouse's orientation to the sun.


Polycarbonate greenhouses disperse light more equally throughout the structure, so harnessing the western or southern sunlight in a polycarbonate greenhouse can benefit all the plants inside.

We offer a wide selection of small and large polycarbonate greenhouse kits in our store.

In contrast to glass greenhouses, polycarbonate greenhouses offer a number of key benefits that make them very appealing for greenhouses:

  • Increased light diffusion.
  • Better insulation.
  • Lightweight and durable.
  • Easier to clean.

Benefits with polycarbonate can help you offset some of the limitations of a less than ideal sun orientation.

The increased light diffusion of polycarbonate material will help spread out the beneficial light to all your plants rather than to just the plants with the best sun position.

  • The Mont Greenhouse is designed with polycarbonate and offers very strong insulation.
  • The Mont Growers greenhouse is designed to maximize light diffusion and also includes a built in heating system.

Stronger insulation associated with polycarbonate material also helps retain the heat from the sun for longer periods of time which helps retain heat during periods of lower direct sunlight during the day.

The additional benefit of a well insulated greenhouse is that it helps to reduce your heating and cooling costs. 

Glass greenhouses are notorious for requiring additional energy costs to offset the rapid loss from the limited insulation value from glass.

Plastic Greenhouse

Solexx Greenhouse

Plastic greenhouses can also offer better heat insulation than glass structures, but they may not transfer sunlight as well as other structures. Solexx greenhouse kits are designed with polyethylene and offer increased insulation.

The Solexx Garden Master greenhouse offers plenty of extra space and reinforced insulation.  This model is great for new gardeners as well as those with more experience.

The Solexx Conservatory greenhouse includes strong insulating capability and offers extra wide space making it a great option for nurseries and educational facilities.


Glass structures transfer 100% of sunlight. Orienting glass structures toward the south or west will optimize the heat and sunlight necessary for warm weather crops.

Glass greenhouses do have a few important negatives to keep in mind:

  • Limited light diffusion.
  • Limited insulation benefit and higher heating and cooling costs.
  • Heavier material.
  • Potential for broken glass.

Despite those limitations, glass greenhouses are still a very popular option due to the strong visual appeal of a clear glass structure.

For more information about greenhouses, please see our article about choosing the right size greenhouse