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This is my very first time posting a question and I have seen some other posts related to my query on here. Basically I'm very new to gardening and I'm wondering what the difference is between a coldframe and a greenhouse. Or maybe there is no difference, it's just down to personal preference? I would like something to put seeds out over the winter, as I have little space in the house. I also have limited psace in the garden so need something comact. Your advice would be greatly received.


hollie hock

Hello, I'm a cold frame fan myself. The ones I have are not the traditional on the ground type. There more of a sturdy mini greenhouse type design, my oh makes them out of bits and pieces. I'll try and find a pics of one of them for you.

If I had more space and money I probably would go for a greenhouse as well as the only thing with my coldframes is that you can't get in them, so when the weathers gardening. Up to now I've done all my seedsowing etc in them

Having said that OH picked up a greenhouse frame off freecyle and has constructed a sort of square shaped polytunnel using sheets of thick polyethene. It's near water tight now and it's great to be able to walk in there


hollie hock

Found an old pic of one

 This one's been moved now, but still in use, all the others are made along similar lines


I suppose the difference between a coldframe and greenhouse is that you can walk into a greenhouse. There is no temperature difference between a coldframe and cold greenhouse unless you use a heater in a greenhouse to keep a certain temperature. So you generally use a coldrame for hardy plants or plants that are hardy due to being kept dry - Agave for example.

I would say a bigger killer than cold is grey mould caused by inefficient ventallation in both coldframes and greenhouses, especially on seedlings. Any sunny day, open the doors to ventillate both.

I started with coldrames and moved up into greenhouses and use both - you can use a coldframe inside a greenhouse to add a little more protection.


GG26 If you can get a GH I would. I've never had a cold frame, but I might need one this spring as I'll have more than I can accomodate in the GH.  


Hi, Garden Girl,

I've oftern thought what was the difference and like you have limited space, from advise given there's little difference and in part it's about personnal preference. 

I started off with a plastic four shelved GH, it was cheap and cheerful, good for growing stuff on and ideal for a few tom plants and if I didn't have green fingers little lost.

A  cold frame to me is something which sits on the ground with no shelves in it, although you can get stand up ones, which have shelving, but are expensive. If you can build one like HH then that's fab.  

Turned out, me thinks I do have green fingers and now have a GH but still have the reliable plastic four shelved GH and really rate them but would like a nice cold frame to replace the plasic GH  as it's become a permanent feature. .   


As the others have said - it's really just about size. Like Sara -  I had a makeshift one years ago too made with breeze blocks and an old window! If you don't have too many large plants and it's really just cuttings and seeds you want to grow, a coldframe will do fine. If you want plants that  need heat it's different, because you'll need something bigger for the heater as Sara says. 

David Matthews2

Hi GG24, welcome again.

As others have already contributed, it really comes down to personal preference. I've gardened here in windy, wet, west Wales for nearly 40 years now and have felt the benefits of having both facilities. Growing seasons can be extended and developing cuttings etc  that need to leave the shelter of greenhouse staging can be hardened off before planting out in the prepared beds. I tend to use trays and troughs for certain salad crops, especially German Leaf Mustard and "Little Gem" cos lettuce, so they stay in the cold frames and free up my very limited raised beds for crops that need a bit more 'elbow' room!




I can appreciate what David has said about having both facilities.

In the past I have managed without a coldframe. I did find the hardening off of plants a bit of a bind, much easier to open a cold frame than keep carrying plants in and out of the GH. Plus I had to judge the weather early in the morning and they had to cope with whatever until evening just standing outside without the protection of the frame.

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