Learn to use and manage Greenhouses and shade houses for growing a variety of horticultural crops. Understand the benefits of growing plants in a controlled environment.

Course Code: BHT223
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
Get started!
Learn to Grow Plants in a Greenhouse or Shade house
This course will develop your broad understanding of practices and processes involved in successful protective plant cropping.  It will develop a clear understanding of environmental control and plant growth within a protective environment, together with a practical knowledge of plant husbandry techniques.
Greenhouses and shadehouses are essential tools for gardeners and crop producers in all climates around the world.
They allow plant growth to be controlled; and provide an opportunity to protect plants from harsh affects of an environment



Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Structures for Protected Cropping
    • Introduction
    • The greenhouse business
    • The greenhouse system
    • Components of a greenhouse facility
    • Deciding what you need
    • Siting a greenhouse
    • Suitability of different structures for specific cropping, depending on natural light transmission
    • Cleanliness in a greenhouse
    • Types of greenhouses
    • Construction method
    • Framing materials
    • Covering materials
    • Benches or beds
    • Flooring
    • Guttering
    • Doors
    • Ventilators
    • Common designs - venlo, wide span, multi span, mansard, polytunnel, saw tooth, single span, retractable roof
    • Relationship between shape and light transmission
    • Shade houses
    • Conservatories
    • Shade house design
    • Cold frames
  2. Environmental Control
    • Introduction
    • Control of Environment
    • Measuring Environmental factors -natural light, growing media temperature. air temperature
    • Misting
    • Fog
    • Problems in Greenhouses
    • Heating and ventilation systems
    • Thermal screens
    • Insulation
    • Lighting equipment
    • Artificial light
    • Photosynthesis
    • Calvin Cycle Plants
    • Krantz Cycle Plants
    • Day length manipulation
    • Long day length plants
    • Short day length plants
    • Day length neutral plants
    • Heated propagators
    • Irrigation and nutrition control
    • Optimum temperature, humidity and light for selected plants
  3. Cladding Materials and their properties
    • Factors affecting light transmission - shape and orientation
    • Covering materials
    • Coreflute/Polyflute
    • PVC
    • Polycarbonate
    • Fibreglass
    • PVC Film
    • Reinforced PVC Film
    • Heat Insulation and Cost Effectiveness
    • Windbreaks
    • Light transmission properties
  4. Irrigation
    • Nursery Irrigation
    • Irrigation Practices
    • Irrigation syustems
    • Plant water needs, excess and deficiency
    • Automatic irrigation systems
    • Sprinkler types
    • Overheads watering
    • Flood benches
    • Capillary watering
    • Trickle irrigation
    • Pulse watering
    • Seep hoses
    • Watering cans
    • Water supply and quality
    • Liquid feed systems
    • Water treatment
    • Water sources
    • Scheduling irrigation
    • Water system maintenance
  5. Nursery Nutrition and Soil Characteristics
    • Fertilisers in greenhouses
    • Diagnosing Nutritional problems
    • Nutrition management
    • Soils, media and nutrition
    • Pore space in soils and growing media
    • Percolation rates
    • Buffering capacity
    • Cation exchange capacity
    • Soil temperature
    • Soil pH
    • Laboratory testing
    • Soil sampling
    • Measuring pH and salinity
    • Fertiliser types
    • Applying fertilisers
    • Fertiliser problems
    • Applying liquid fertilisers
  6. Relationship between Production techniques and Horticultural practices
    • What crops are grown under cover
    • Potting media
    • Potting mix components
    • Potting mix problems
    • Water repellency
    • U.C. Mixes
    • Knoxfield research
    • Potting mix standards
    • Propagation media
    • Pots and containers
    • Potting up plants
    • Transplanting between pots
    • Perched water tables
    • Production of different crops
    • Tomato production
    • Lettuce production
    • Potted begonias
    • Carnations
    • Greenhouse roses
    • Hydroponics
    • Propagation methods -overview
    • Plant hormones
    • Planting and crop establishment
  7. Greenhouse Management: Pests and diseases
    • Fungi
    • Common fungal problems
    • Chemical and cultural control of disorders
    • Legislation & labels
    • Biological and integrated pest management
    • Beneficial agents
    • Economic thresholds
    • How pest and disease may be introduced to a greenhouse
    • Identifying major problems -viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes
    • Pests
    • How to determine the problem
    • Conducting an inspection
  8. Harvest and Post Harvest Technology
    • Stage of growth for harvesting
    • Shelf life
    • Post harvest treatments
    • Grading
    • Cut flowers
    • Conditioning for market
    • Marketing at a wholesale market
    • Culture & management requirements for selected greenhouse crops
    • Harvest & post harvest for different orchids
    • Transport and storage of flowers
    • Post harvest requirements of mushrooms
    • Grading systems
    • Mechanised grading
    • Fruit grading
  9. Greenhouse Plants
    • What is suited to growing in a greenhouse
    • Growing specific crops
    • Growing lilies in a greenhouse
    • Growing roses in a greenhouse
    • Growing tomatoes in a greenhouse
  10. Risk Assessment
    • Identifying risk in a workplace
    • Safe work practices with clothing and equipment
    • Workplace policy
    • Identifying hazards
    • Risk control methods
    • Risk assessment for protected crop production
    • Manual lifting
    • How to lift safely
    • Using machines for heavy work -including cultivation
    • Cleaning and sharpening tools


  • Describe and evaluate the type and shape of modern growing structures
  • Describe and evaluate environmental controls in protected cropping
  • Explain the nature of solar radiation, transmission properties of glass and its substitutes
  • Determine the water requirements of a crop; and methods of irrigation.
  • Relate horticultural principles to the production and harvesting of a range of crops.
  • Evaluate the factors involved in marketing protected crops
  • Evaluate the factors involved in marketing protected crops
  • Undertake risk assessment

What You Will Do

  • Identify the main types of growing structure
    • Relate use of structures to shape and type of construction
    • Identify the range of environmental factors controlled within a growing structure
  • Describe the use of the equipment used to measure and monitor these factors
  • Name and describe a range of types of environmental controls
  • Evaluate the use of IT facilities for environmental control
  • Describe the meaning of “daylight” and explain the role of sunlight and diffused light
  • Relate time of year to the quantity and quality of available light
  • Evaluate how the shape and orientation of a structure will affect light transmission
  • Assess the effectiveness of glass and cladding alternatives for light transmission
  • Describe the durability and insulation properties of glass and alternative materials
  • Select and describe appropriate systems of irrigation for plants grown in situ
  • Select and describe appropriate systems of irrigation for container grown plants
  • Specify and evaluate systems for incorporating plant nutrients into the irrigation water
  • Explain the effects of environmental control on a range of plants
  • Relate the essential features necessary for successful plant establishment and development to their underlying scientific principles.
  • Describe the production of a range of crops
  • State the optimum stage of growth for harvesting a range of crops
  • Describe the harvesting systems for protected crops
  • Explain how shelf life can be affected by pre and post harvesting treatment of the crop
  • State the factors to be considered when marketing crops
  • Evaluate alternative marketing outlets
  • Relate packaging & presentation to marketing
  • Assess benefits to the grower and customer, of grading a crop before marketing
  • Determine elements of risk in the practical operations associated with protected plant production.
  • Identify safe working practices

Crop Production Can be Controlled
Greenhouses are used to control the environment which plants grow in. The environment is extremely complex though, and there are many interactions between the different aspects of the environment. The amount of light allowed to get to plants might affect the temperature. If you close the vents or doors of a glasshouse you may stop the temperature from dropping, but at the same time you may be changing the balance of gasses in the air. Every time man interferes to alter one thing, he ends up altering a number of things.
These include:
  1. Atmospheric Temperature the air
  2. Root Zone Temperature in the soil or hydroponic media which the plant roots are growing in.
  3. Water Temperature the water which you irrigate the plants with.
  4. Light Conditions shaded, full light, dark.
  5. Atmospheric gas plants give off oxygen but take in carbon dioxide. Animals do the reverse. Normally they balance each other, but when plants are locked in a closed room or house by themselves, they become starved for carbon dioxide as the oxygen level in the 'room' rises.
  6. Air movement mixes gases, evens out temperature.
  7. Atmospheric Moisture humidity
  8. Root Zone Moisture water levels in the soil or media.
Each year with new research and technology, the greenhouse system is becoming more complex. To effectively manage the interior environment within the greenhouse consideration must be given to a range of factors including:
  • Temperature
  • Irrigation
  • Shading -both natural and with blinds/curtains
  • Light-including supplemented light if needed
  • Levels of Carbon Dioxide
  • Mist/fogging.
Sophisticated monitoring and control systems such as analogue controls, thermostats and computerised environmental management equipment are often used in large set-ups to enable the grower to accomplish the monitoring process.
Light Transmission: Shape and Orientation
The shape of the greenhouse will not have a great impact on light transmission. The traditional span roof style has vertical sides but is covered in for the lower one-third to reduce heat loss in winter. This design is most suited to colder temperate climates. Rigid structures with curved panels to the ridge, with louvers in the lower panels are more attractive however they are not suitable for supporting vines and larger growing plants. The most efficient heat traps are the polygon and dome shapes. These are more suited to home use than commercial use as the shape is not ergonomic for working in. They display the plants better and are able to support vines. The tunnel shape covered with a plastic film is the most economical however they are only suitable for low growing vegetables such as lettuce and strawberries.
Orientation or the position of the structure in relation to the sun is important. The frame of the structure casts shadows. The length of the shadow depends upon the angle of the sun and the season. The effect is most noticeable in winter when sunlight is often limited. Greenhouses located above the 40th parallel of both hemispheres should be positioned so the long side is facing east-west. This is to optimise the quantity of light that can enter along the long sides during winter. Below this parallel greenhouses should be orientated along a north-south axis as the angle of the sun is much higher.
It should be located in the open, not close to trees or other buildings. A planted windbreak is most beneficial in reducing wind swirling around the structure and also acts as a suntrap. However, there should be a minimum of 5 metres from shrub and 10 metres from trees in the windbreaks.
The correct orientation is noticeable in winter when maximising sunlight is important. Each degree of heat provided by the sun saves in heating costs, and therefore the correct orientation will provide up to 10 degrees Celsius of free heat.


Being able to better manage plants in a greenhouse or shade house, can open up a wide range of opportunities for you in horticulture: 
  • You will become a more valuable employee for plant nurseries and crop producers who  operate with greenhouses.
  • You may already be operating your own business or may start up your own business; perhaps as a cut flower grower, hydroponic farmer or nurseryman, propagating and producing containerised plants.
  • Some graduates may find employment or business opportunities selling or installing greenhouses.
Greenhouses and shade houses are also to be found in botanic gardens; historic gardens, research establishments, teaching institutions and other places in the world of horticulture. 
Member of the Future Farmers Network

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Alternative Technology Association Member

Accredited ACS Global Partner

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

Member of Study Gold Coast

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Yvonne Sharpe

RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences.
Initially she worked with the Depart

Dr. Lynette Morgan (Crops)

Lyn has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. Her first job was on a mushroom farm, and at university she undertook a major project studying tomatoes. She has studied nursery production and written books on hydroponic production of herbs.

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.

I agree for ACS Distance Education to contact me and store my information until I revoke my approval. For more info, view our privacy policy.