Monty Don's surprising greenhouse tips will make you rethink garden design — and how you use yours

The celebrity gardener has revealed his top greenhouse tips — will you follow his bold advice?

An example of greenhouse tips showing a glass greenhouse amongst shrubbery and two trees
(Image credit: Future)

If we are going to take gardening advice and greenhouse tips from anybody, it is Monty Don. After showcasing his talents on BBC Gardener's World, the floricultural master has shaped exteriors on both sides of the Atlantic.

But none of his tips will change your garden quite as significantly as his greenhouse ideas. As we begin to plan that perfect greenhouse for spring, we couldn't wait to hear what Monty had to say. 

Speaking in a video for Inside Outside House and Garden, Monty suggests building 'the garden around the greenhouse, not the other way around,' after announcing that 'if a greenhouse will improve a garden,' we should 'make it fit.'

Though Monty's statement may come as a surprise, the gardener then offered more unexpected advice. These are the top three greenhouse tips you need before you start your build.

Monty Don's greenhouse tips

1. A greenhouse isn't a hot house if you want hardy plants

A view of the inside of a greenhouse with pink flowers and green plants in plant pots

(Image credit: Future)

Although an ideal temperature for a greenhouse is usually cited as a constant 80 to 85ºF, it really depends how you are using it and what you are growing. This is where Monty's advice is valuable, particularly for gardeners in cooler climes. 

'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,' Monty urges. 

'[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.' 

After emphasizing the importance of a greenhouse's place in the garden and its ideal temperature, Monty shared two further tips on Gardeners World, focusing specifically on its construction and orientation. 

In the footage, Monty began by explaining how his tips are significant for greenhouses of all sizes. 

'It doesn't matter what kind of greenhouse you get; there are certain principles that apply to all of them. That is the same for the little plastic drawer on the side of the house that you lay seeds in, to a cathedral of glass,' he shares.

2. Ensure it has a brick base

An example of greenhouse tips showing the inside of a large greenhouse with fresh basil and pumkins

(Image credit: Future)

'The first thing to think about when planning a greenhouse is construction,' Monty explains. 

'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.'

3. Remember the east to west golden rule

The inside of a greenhouse full of green plants looking out onto a garden

(Image credit: Future)

Indicating the position of his glass structure, Monty urged his viewers to build their greenhouse in the sunniest spot of their garden. 

'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. Work out where you want it, work out what you want for it, and then go for it.'

What do other experts think about Monty Don's surprising greenhouse advice? 

'I'm going to sit on the fence here and say it is perfectly possible to do both,' says Nelly Hall, Brand Director of greenhouse manufacturer, Alitex

Nelly continues: 'Hopefully, when your greenhouse is installed, it will follow the golden rule of the ridge running east to west, with shading on the sunnier, south-facing roof pitch. Over the years, many of us change our garden ideas, plans and aspirations, and the fixed items, such as the shed and greenhouse, can usually be worked around as key features.

'If, however, you have a blank canvas and bare patch, always remember that east to west golden rule and think about water access, power if you choose to have heating, and pathways to run wheelbarrows around and into your greenhouse,' she adds. 

How much direct sunlight does a greenhouse need?

A greenhouse needs at least six hours of direct sunlight a day, particularly in winter months. The best position for a greenhouse is either in full sun or partial shade – depending on what you are growing and how hot your local climate is.

You can create shade with blinds within a greenhouse which is a better case scenario than positioning a greenhouse in permanent shadow created by buildings and large trees. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.