Greenhouse Vs Hothouse: Are They Similar?

Greenhouse vs Hothouse. Wondering what they are?

Well, many people have always used these two terms interchangeably.

In this article, I’ll tell you how true this is.

A tip here, a greenhouse and a hothouse are two different things…

Affiliate Disclosure

Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

What is a Greenhouse?

In simple terms, a greenhouse is a structure/building that’s used to grow certain plants at an optimum rate by keeping them warm.

The walls and roofing is mostly made of glass or plastic.

Those that have plastic walls often have wood structures on which the plastic material is stretched out from either end.

The objective is to protect the plants from harsh weather such as storms and excessive cold during the winter.

What is a Hothouse?

A hothouse is basically a greenhouse that’s heated using additional heat – that is, artificial heat.

It’s simply a heated greenhouse that’s designed for plants that need an even, relatively warmer temperature.

One that cannot be achieved even with the regular greenhouse.

Many hothouses use propane or gas to supplement the heat from the sun.

Others use electricity.

Needless to say, hothouses are mostly found in places with colder climates where heat from the sun is not enough to keep the inside warm enough for plant growth.

Hothouse Vs Greenhouse: Similarities and Differences

From the above definitions, we can tell that hothouses and greenhouses all apply the same concept and serve the same purpose.

Purpose: Growing plants in a warm environment, away from harsh weather conditions.

Concept: The building has glass/plastic walls and roofing to let in as much sun rays as possible.

The major difference is the source of heat.

Greenhouses only rely on the heat from the sun, while hothouses have additional, artificial sources of heat.

For this reason, hothouses have higher operational costs than greenhouses.

A minor difference is that most greenhouses have a larger ceiling to allow sunlight to pass through.

This is not necessarily the case for hothouses.

For hothouses, because they can supply additional heat, there are really no such strict restrictions.

The artificial source of heat is the deal!

Greenhouse Vs Hothouse Garden: Which One Is Best for Me?

When deciding whether to build a greenhouse or a hothouse, consider the following factors.

The Types of Plants

If you’re planning to grow the popular root and leafy vegetables like spinach, chances are you don’t need a hothouse.

They’ll be fine throughout the year in a regular greenhouse even in cold climates.

Most of them thrive in cool weather and they don’t get affected so much by freezing temperatures.

However, if you’re planning to grow lush, tropical plants, a hothouse is the best option.

The same case applies to vegetables that only grow during the warm season – such as cucumbers and summer squashes.

When and How You Plan to Use It

Whether to get a greenhouse or a hothouse also depends on the intended purpose.

If your plan is to grow seedlings in the late spring season, there’s definitely no need for a hot house.

However, if you’re growing seedlings throughout the year, and you’re living in colder climates, get a hothouse!

Your Region and Climate

Your location also dictates which option is best for you.

If you’re living in a place with mild winters, there’s really no need for a hothouse.

But if your area has extended winters with freezing temperatures, then you definitely need a hothouse to keep plants thriving throughout the winter and the fall too.

Most people living in such areas actually think they have greenhouses, unaware that they actually have hothouses, thanks to the supplemental heating!

Can I Transform One into the Other?


As stated earlier, it’s not about the type of building, but the source of heat.

Read on!

Transforming A Greenhouse into A Hothouse

If you already have a greenhouse, transforming it into a hothouse is not a hassle.

Simply add a supplemental source of heat and you’re good to go!

Transforming A Hothouse into a Greenhouse

During the hot summer, it’s not strange to find farmers getting back their greenhouse from the hothouse.

All you need to do is remove or turn off supplemental heat sources.

Let the building rely solely on heat from the sun!