Choosing the right greenhouse covering – is green or clear better?

Many people find greenhouses to be beneficial for their gardens for a variety of reasons. But if you are new to the world of greenhouses, you may be overwhelmed with the number of choices available to you. The two most prominently used greenhouses are green or clear, but if you don’t know which one is better than the other, it can be challenging to make a final decision.

Is green or clear better for a greenhouse? Clear greenhouses are far more recommended than colored versions. Covering your greenhouse with a green (or another color) material will prevent some of the spectrums of the natural sunlight from penetrating the structure and finding your plants. This can prevent proper growth, and you will not get the same results as you would from a clear structure.

If you are having trouble choosing between green and clear greenhouses, you have come to the right place. This article will discuss which greenhouse is more recommended than the other and why. It will also tell the pros and cons of different types of greenhouse coverings, and why you and your garden can genuinely benefit from such a structure.

If you’re interested in climate control as part of your research, be sure to head over to our article discussing how to know if you’ll need a heater in your greenhouse.

Which Greenhouse is Best: Green or Clear?

Deciding whether you want a greenhouse is the easiest step. Waltzing into a garden store and picking out the right greenhouse presents a new problem if you do not know which greenhouse is the best. 

You have likely heard of (or seen) greenhouses that are green, and others that are clear. And while you might think that a greenhouse should be green – hence the name – this isn’t entirely true. There are some disadvantages to choosing green for your greenhouse cover.

When it comes to greenhouses, you should always choose clear over green (or any other color, even opaque). As stated in “Which is Better: A Clear or a Green Greenhouse” by Reannan Raine, green coverings will not allow all of the sunlight to penetrate through the structure. The green will block green rays from the sun from entering your greenhouse, which could have a slightly negative impact on plant production.

Is green that bad, though? While you should always opt for clear greenhouse coverings, you are not doomed with green. Just because it is not the optimal choice, doesn’t mean it can’t help to grow your plants. The main problem with green is that it blocks the green rays. There is thought only to be a small amount of green rays in sunlight, so choosing green doesn’t mean your garden is destined to fail.

If green is your only option, you can still get by with it. Again, green isn’t going to leave your garden in despair. It just might not have as great of an impact on plant growth. The only time green is optimal is when you are growing in an incredibly bright and sunny environment. While all of this sunshine is great for plants, having a little less from blocked green sun rays won’t damage your garden whatsoever.

In the end, all environments can reap the benefits of a clear greenhouse covering. If you have the option, always choose clear. Clear greenhouses allow for the most sunlight to reach your plants, which leads to a more successful crop. 

Just make sure that you are also paying attention to the inside of your greenhouse, too. While sunlight is going to help with growth, you must also make sure that the temperature is ideal for the plants you are growing. Even with sunlight being at the forefront of plant growth, some plants will have more suitable and healthy time with cold temperatures, while others crave the heat.

The Benefits of a Greenhouse

A greenhouse is essentially a structure that is going to keep your plants safe from all types of environmental troubles, such as extreme weather conditions and rodents and pests. With the utmost protection, plants are thought to be able to grow longer and stronger, even outside of their usual ‘growing period’. 

Of course, there are several advantages and disadvantages of growing your plants in a greenhouse. So, before you head off to the local gardening store in search of your latest backyard plant structure, it’s necessary to know if it’s the right decision for you by weighing the pros and cons. 

The Pros of Using a Greenhouse

Gardeners who are considering adding a greenhouse to their backyard will be glad to know that there are many benefits to this type of structure. We are going to take a look at some of the top reasons why you and your garden can certainly benefit from a greenhouse.

Growing inside of a greenhouse may lead to an increase in production.

As you are now able to control the climate of your plants entirely, you are likely to see an overall increase in production. You are also able to grow more plants in the same area – more than you would in an outdoor garden. This leads to a clear victory in terms of plant production.

There is less risk of damage to your plants.

As we mentioned previously, a greenhouse acts as a protective covering for your plants. Inside of the greenhouse, your plants no longer have to fear extreme weather conditions or sudden drops in temperature, which can lead to their demise. There is also no chance of being attacked and eaten by birds, rodents, squirrels, and other hungry animals.

You can increase your profit margin.

Not everyone gardens for profit; some do it for pleasure or to have their homegrown fruits and veggies on hand. But if you are trying to make some money off of your garden, then using a greenhouse allows you to utilize space more efficiently and cut down on waste. Therefore, your profit increases. Even if you are not growing for profit, these perks mean that you will have more homegrown fruits and vegetables to enjoy.

There is less risk of disease for your plants.

Since the area is confined and there aren’t outside intruders or environmental impacts, your plants have a far less chance of contracting diseases and illnesses. This leads to a crop that is ultimately healthier and stronger, and, in the case of fruits and veggies, tastier, too.

You can grow year-round, even during off-seasons.

As long as you can create the ideal climate inside of the greenhouse, you can grow crops year-round. Even if your plant is in its offseason (such as it can’t be grown in cold temperatures during the winter), you can still grow the crop in December as your greenhouse is an independent structure that doesn’t go by the outdoor climate. Having a greenhouse allows you to customize the environment inside of it for your needs.

Your plants are more structured and secure.

As mentioned in “Greenhouse Farming: Pros and Cons” by GRTrailers, your plants have more overall security in a greenhouse, and so does the gardener. You and your plants no longer have to deal with outdoor climates, so even the worst temperatures are no match for you and your plants. This makes the entire gardening process much easier.

It’s easy to see that greenhouses can have a significant positive role in growing your garden. With the ability to plant year-round and not have to worry about potential diseases, mishaps with rodents, or freezing temperatures destroying your plants, you can feel confident and secure growing in your greenhouse – even if you’re a beginner.

The Cons of Using a Greenhouse

Unfortunately, there are also a few downsides to using a greenhouse. While there are far fewer potential problems, these issues are relatively important and must be considered by the gardener. Let’s take a look at some of the few reasons why you might not want a greenhouse.

It can be pricey.

Perhaps the biggest issue with obtaining a greenhouse is that the initial cost can be expensive. However, there are many cost-effective solutions on the market. It’s important not to go too cheap, though, as cheap materials won’t last as long and may have a more difficult time keeping your garden safe from the elements. Additionally, purchasing a cheap greenhouse can cost you more money in the long run because of repairs or replacements.

Greenhouses require specific designs.

It’s imperative to build your greenhouse correctly, or it will not be able to function correctly. Additionally, you must be strategic in choosing where you place your greenhouse, know which crops will grow happily together, and know which add-ons may be required to keep your plants happy. All of these details can be overwhelming for new gardeners, so be sure to choose a greenhouse that you can handle putting together.

Your production costs may be high.

Since you have to make sure that your plants will be happy inside your greenhouse, you might have to spend more money on electricity and gas. Think about it – if you are trying to grow a summer fruit during the wintertime in your greenhouse, you will need to mimic summertime by raising the heat levels. This costs a decent amount of money to do.

You have to pay close attention to your plants.

Plants should not be left in a greenhouse and checked on only every so often in hopes that everything is okay. Since plants are growing in an environment inside of the greenhouse and are close to one another, you have to make sure you are checking on your plants regularly.

Diseases can spread more rapidly.

Diseases can indeed be kept to a bare minimum, but in the off chance that a pest or disease does end up in the greenhouse, it can quickly have very adverse effects. That is why it is crucial to check on your plants regularly and always act quickly when you notice a problem. 

For the most part, the disadvantages of a greenhouse come down to proper placement and having to spend a little more money. As long as you have some extra money upfront to cover the costs and know what crops can live happily together, you should have no problem using a greenhouse to grow your garden.

Best Greenhouse Coverings

If you are set on having a greenhouse for your garden, your next step is to choose what type of coverage is best. While you know that you should always select clear instead of color of opaque, you still need to determine which type of material is going to work best for you and your garden’s needs. 

The Best Greenhouse Covering Materials” points out that there are three top picks when it comes to greenhouse coverings. All of these are available in clear, which is good news for the gardener dreaming of a greenhouse. However, they all come with their own set of positives and negatives that will impact your decision. 


Glass is, without a doubt, the best choice for greenhouses. It is completely permeable and extremely durable, with the ability to last for several years without being damaged. However, glass can become a bit brittle after a certain number of years, but this should not be expected for quite some time.

It is also important to note that glass is a bit more challenging and dangerous to set up because it can be broken if dropped. Glass coverings also require a more durable frame to handle the weight of the glass. 

Overall, glass is long-lasting, durable, energy-efficient, and can ensure that the temperatures you want are held in place. When you need to trap in heat, glass is the go-to. When you want to make sure that the temperatures stay chillier inside the greenhouse, glass works optimally then, as well. It is a bit more expensive to purchase and install, but its long-lasting ability makes it a better choice for saving money long-term. 

Film Plastic

Film plastic is highly sought after because it’s cheaper than other options on the market. However, it is prone to yellowing, which will cause it to be less permeable. In recent years, though, the lifespan of film plastic has grown to three to five years. They are also designed to hold in heat just as well as glass, even though they are less permeable.

You may want to consider choosing a thicker film plastic since it is far more durable and can handle capturing heat better. You should also try to find a film plastic that is designed with UV ray protection to help your plants grow healthy and strong.

Rigid Plastic

The last category of greenhouse coverings is rigid plastic. This includes fiberglass, acrylic, and polycarbonate – polycarbonate being the strongest of the three. All of these plastics are excellent choices as they are shatterproof and can handle harsh weather conditions well. 

Polycarbonate is what I went with for my greenhouse. I chose a product called Solexx (available on Amazon) for the following reasons:

  • The material diffuses the light which is extremely beneficial to plant growth
  • It has one of the highest R factors for polycarbonate panels and
  • Its excellent durability and warranty

The main downside to rigid plastics, though, is that they can yellow over time, and they are not as strong as glass. Yellowing will make it more of a challenge for sunlight to penetrate the structure and reach your plants, which can hurt the growth of your garden. With a good wash, though, the yellowing should be removed and the plastic returned to prime condition.

How to Choose the Right Covering

Choosing between these three covering materials can be quite a challenge. You should keep these things in mind when picking between glass, film plastic, and rigid plastic:

  1. Make sure it’s clear. Whatever you do, make sure you are buying the clear version of these materials. This ensures that you are getting the most sunlight possible to your plants.
  2. Check the price tag. Knowing your budget is essential when making a large-scale purchase. If you don’t have much money upfront, then you might not be able to afford glass. If this is the case, then you can always get by with film or rigid plastics.
  3. Understand the installation. Glass is going to be more of a challenge to install because it is more substantial and can shatter quickly. Consider your knowledge and ability to install each type of greenhouse covering material before choosing.
  4. Understand the environment. If your area is prone to hailstorms, then glass might not be the best choice. On the other hand, if you are dealing with excessive heat, you will need a material that won’t retain too much heat, such as rigid plastic fiberglass.
  5. Know what your crops need. Some plants prefer to have intense heat and sunlight, while others can get by with less. Knowing your crops’ needs can help you decide which material is right for your plant and which material will lead to fewer expenses. For instance – glass holds heat well, which means you won’t have to spend too much on heating during the winter.


Greenhouses are incredibly beneficial to gardens in several ways. However, choosing the right greenhouse can be a challenge. The best advice to remember is that green greenhouses should be left at the store. Opt for clear as they will allow for more sunlight to penetrate the structure and help grow happy, strong, and healthy crops.

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