Monty Don's top greenhouse dos and don'ts may surprise you

Forget everything you've heard about greenhouses – Monty Don is about to turn your knowledge upside down

A greenhouse with windows open
(Image credit: Getty/moodboard)

A greenhouse instantly adds an elegant, vintage look to any garden, and greenhouse gardening allows you to grow a bigger variety of plants even if your climate is a little cold. Monty has advocated greenhouses throughout his illustrious career as garden author and presenter, and recently he has given some very useful, if somewhat unexpected, tips for making the most out of growing things in a glasshouse. 

1. Do ventilate 

restored Crittal greenhouse

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

This may go against everything you've heard about greenhouses – but Monty insists that they're not be used as hothouses, which are full of humidity and condensation. In a video for Inside Outside House and Garden, Monty says: 'It's a real temptation with a greenhouse to use it as a hothouse. It's not a hothouse. Open it up at every possible opportunity. [If] the door is shut now, it should be open. Grow everything, so it's got just enough protection, and then, that way, the fluctuations of temperature won't affect it too much, and everything will grow stronger and better. Get it open, get the ventilation open, and get the plants toughened up.' 

2. Don't put it straight onto the ground

small greenhouse in a cottage garden

(Image credit: Clive Nichols)

It's not just because you'll get a more even surface, although this is one of the reasons you should consider building a brick base for your greenhouse rather just putting it straight onto the ground. Monty explains that 'you can have the framework going down to the ground, but it must be on a fairly firm surface. It's a really good idea to make a bricked base if you can. It will hold the heat much better for insulation and also holds the moisture because greenhouses do tend to get a bit too dry.'

Learn how to protect plants from frost in our guide.

3. Do position in the sunniest spot 

A greenhouse in a sunny spot in garden

(Image credit: Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

This again may go against what you've heard about greenhouses – that they should be positioned in a sheltered spot, for example. Monty believes that you won't get the most out of your greenhouse unless you position it in the sunniest spot in your backyard. ''It's south over there, which means it's going to get sun all day long, so there is plenty of light. It's no good only getting light in the evening or only in the mornings.'

Finally, learn how to choose a greenhouse before you pick one. 'Work out where you want it, work out what you want for it, and then go for it', says Monty. That's quite a lot of working out to do, but it will be worth it in the end. 

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

Anna is Consumer Editor across Future's home brands. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening.

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