This Morning: James Martin shows inside his greenhouse
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Greenhouses are notoriously warm in the summer though they can turn frosty and cold without proper heating during the winter. While making them completely safe from freezing is impossible, there are a few ways to ensure your plants are less likely to die in sub-zero temperatures. An expert at Hartley Botanic said: “Each degree of temperature near freezing is critical for plants, but good management will help, and allow you to navigate Greenhouse heating alongside this winter’s energy costs.”
How to heat your greenhouse on a budget
Whether your greenhouse is glass or plastic, you may need to think about heating it during the cooler months.
Electric fan heaters are one way to warm up the glass structure, and there are a few other things you can do to maintain a stable temperature.
Use soil-warming cables
Soil-warming cables are designed to provide heat in propagating trays, benches and greenhouse borders.
The silicone leads provide heat where it is most needed, at the roots, so even if top growth is cold-damaged, the roots will survive.
An expert at Hartley Botanic explained that this is one of the “most economical heating techniques”, particularly for young plants, as the heat source is direct.
They said: “Cable is safe and easy to install and, with a thermostat, lets you control soil temperature more accurately.
“Its performance depends on the cable type, prevailing temperatures and how the system is installed, e.g. a 6m cable consumes 75 watts, and correctly installed will sustain temperatures between 15C and 25C per square metre of a covered bench. Cover plants with fleece or a canopy of translucent sheeting to retain heat.”
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Use smaller heaters
According to the price comparison site Uswitch, a plug-in electric heater uses around 2.5-3 kilowatt hours of energy (kWh).
Based on the current 34p per unit rate of electricity, the average heater costs between 85p and £1.02 to use for one hour.
To save money, Harley Botanic recommended swapping one large heater for several smaller (1kW) appliances.
The experts said: “A number of smaller heaters can work better, and cost less to run, than one large one, in the same way that small fans improve the airflow by eliminating ‘dead’ corners, this allows for a reduction in total heating costs.”
Blinds are a worthwhile investment for your greenhouse to trap natural sunlight.
When the sun is shining, keep internal blinds up to heat your greenhouse and pull them down to trap the warmth once it turns shady.
Add bubble wrap for insulation
The greenhouse experts said: “You can reduce heat-loss by installing winter insulation over glazed areas. The most effective method is to use bubble wrap polythene, cut to size and fixed on the inside of the Greenhouse, close to the glass.”
Group similar plants
If you wish to protect plants in parts of your home or cold corners of your greenhouse, grouping can help.
Group different plants with similar temperature requirements and use bubble wrap or horticultural fleece for insulation.
Adjust the layering to suit the needs of different varieties.
This method is particularly useful if you don’t want to heat entire sections of your greenhouse, or are simply working with a tight budget.
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