Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Flower House 300 Greenhouse. I am reviewing this item today because I mentioned the Flower House Spring House line in Tuesdays Episode on seed starting. I provided a link to their entire line and got quite a few emails asking if I were going to use one, specifically for seed starting which would it be.
Before proceeding I want to say I have never owned this particular model, but I have owned two of their larger ones and they are the best made greenhouse of this type I have ever found. I also want to be clear that if you try to grow plants in this thing when temperatures are 15 degrees without some sort of heat, everything is going to die.
Without some built in specialized technology this is how most greenhouse’s work. During the day when the sun is out the temp inside will be 20-40 degrees higher than the temp outside. Once the sun goes down within an hour tops the air temp inside will be for all practical purposes the same as the temp on the outside.
I am mostly recommending this greenhouse for people that wish to start seeds inside it. I chose this size because first at 160 bucks with free shipping it is very affordable. Next as you can see from the product picture above it is a decent size. You can easily fit 4 typical inexpensive plastic shelves into it and still have room to get inside and water, move stuff around etc. Yet it is small enough to make heating something worth doing without spending more on energy than the plants are worth.
I also want to point out that if some really big cold front comes in (it happens) that the amount of plants you can fit on 4 shelf units, while a huge amount for a gardener, can all all be brought inside a garage or house fairly quickly. You may need this as a plan B depending on how cold it is going to get, what plants you are starting and what heat source if any you are using. If we move up to their larger models you are just going to spend too much money heating it to make it worth doing.
Lets talk heat. A lot of people say, just put a trash can in there full of water the sun will warm it and it will keep the space warm at night. Doesn’t work, I tried it, not with a green house that is not insulated anyway. None of the stuff people say works, bottles of water painted black, rocks on the floor, etc. None of it.
What does work? A propane heater, like the Big Buddy or an electric heater like say an electric 750 Watt plug in model. The propane heater is viable but even at the lowest setting the go though a lot of propane in a full night’s use. So unless you are in an emergency and just own one a small electric space heater is better and far more efficient. It has a thermostat and can be set at the lowest temperature. That means it doesn’t have to constantly run to do the job.
Here is what else helps, moving blankets. If you put any supplemental heat inside and cover the roof with two moving blankets you will increase your ability to hold heat inside a great deal. Of course then you have to remove them the next day, so this is a way to get past those late freezes not something most people want to do daily.
All this said, for 160 bucks you can have a perfect set up to start literally hundreds of plants using the best light available, the sun, in spite of what the movie said, sunlight is what plants actually crave. It only takes up about a 7×7 foot space and can be folded up and put away once you are done with it for a season.
These things are tough, with proper care they can last many seasons but as I have said on the air, they have one weakness and it is ice storms. I have had two have their fiberglass rods break under the weight of ice storms. If you are heating it during them this risk goes down but if you cover it with blankets the ice and now snow can stick to that and be even worse. Translation when snow and ice come in you either need really good heat or need to be willing to go out frequently and push up on the roof and make it shed off. Do that and these things are golden.
So who are these best for? Those of you in relatively mild climates where you don’t get a lot of freezes from here forward but get some. And additionally even if you got none going forward the average temps are just two low for good young plant growth. They are more for raising the temps during the day than protection from freezing at night.
Some additional thoughts. First if you have a south facing wall to your home, especially brick or rock, that is the ideal location, I would put the back right against the wall. The home will carry over heat and that will help a bit over night especially if you put moving blankets on the roof on colder nights. Additionally if you have a slab of concrete that it can go on, you are golden. That absolutely will provide residual heat. Though I can’t recommend pouring a slab only for this little greenhouse.
In the end, these are great greenhouses if you understand their limits and one can easily let you start enough plants that buying them could cost 500-1000 dollars or more, paying for themselves in one season. You could also just put one over a 4×4 raised bed and really get it going early. They are small enough to heat without losing money vs. just buying plants, but I want to be clear you ain’t gonna grow an orange tree in Michigan with one.
Lastly on quality, they are very high quality. They are indeed made in China but the company is HQd in Michigan. The covers they use were designed in Germany and then manufactured in China for obvious cost savings on manufacturing. You can trust me here, you are not going to get instructions in Chinglish and have to call Hong Kong for customer support. They are a damn solid company and if I knew of a product as good made in the US, I’d recommend it, but I don’t. Tune into today’s show (Episode 2376) for more thoughts on using this product in today’s closing segment.
In any event if you would like a small greenhouse to do some season extending or start plants with, this is likely the best value for the buck you can find. Lastly they do sell custom fit shelving for this model but as I don’t see it as a year round greenhouse I’d recommend cheap plastic shelves you can get in any box store. They are multi purpose, easy to move, easy to assemble and break down for storage, etc. So check out the Flower House 300 Greenhouse today, it may be the perfect solution for your needs.
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