What Are The Best Colors Of Plastic To Use For An Outdoor Greenhouse

Looking for some of the best colors to use for an outdoor greenhouse?  Check this out!

-Whether you’re planning to build your own greenhouse using a kit or a set of plans for the  frame or you’ve decided that it is time to renovate an existing greenhouse, you may be wondering what kind of covering is best for your growing plants. If you’re using glass, then there’s really only one realistic option available to you – clear glass.

-However, if you plan to use plastic to cover your greenhouse, then there is an enormous variety of options available to you in terms of the thickness of plastic materials and of course, the color of plastic that you might choose for your greenhouse.

  • Since there are so many options out there for color, you may be wondering what colors would be best for your greenhouse. Read on for the answer and a discussion of the pros and cons of using different colors of plastic as a greenhouse covering material.
  • In most cases, you’ll want to stick to one type of plastic for your outdoor greenhouse: namely, 6 millimeter polyethylene sheeting. While there are more permanent types of plastic which you could choose for your greenhouse, the cost may be prohibitive especially for a larger structure, unless taking out a second mortgage on your home to finance your greenhouse sounds like a good idea to you.
  • Polyethylene sheeting is generally regarded as an excellent material for greenhouses; it’s relatively durable, allows in the light that your plants will need and provides fairly good insulation to keep temperatures high enough inside of your greenhouse for your plants to thrive. It also gives the plants in your greenhouse protection from wind and inclement weather conditions which can cause damage.
  • What you’re probably used to seeing on greenhouses is clear polyethylene sheeting and there are some very good reasons for this choice. Clear plastic materials like polyethylene allow the full spectrum of sunlight to pass through, which simulates the type of light that your plants would receive if they were growing outdoors without the shelter of a greenhouse. Obviously, this is a good thing and is a point in favor of clear polyethylene sheeting, but there are some interesting facts about using different colors of plastic for greenhouses which we’ll discuss below.

  • Studies have been done on the effects of using different colored plastics as greenhouse coverings. Since different colors of plastic will reflect different wavelengths of sunlight, they have a very real effect on the growth of plants in a greenhouse.
  • For example, green plastic coverings reflect green light (which is why this material appears green in visible light), while allowing other wavelengths to pass through. In studies, it has been found that using green plastic to cover a greenhouse results in plants which are slightly (but very slightly) shorter than plants grown in a greenhouse with a clear plastic covering.
  • There isn’t all that much green in sunlight, it seems, since overall, green plastic lets in almost the same amount of light overall. It’s probably not preferable to clear plastic as a greenhouse covering, but if you find yourself in the unlikely situation of having only green plastic sheeting available for your greenhouse, it will do if need be.
  • In studies, blue plastic greenhouse covering resulted in somewhat stunted plants which had significantly fewer leaves than their counterparts grown in a greenhouse covered with clear plastic. Blue lies in the middle of the spectrum of visible light and while your plants will still grow in a blue plastic covered greenhouse, you’ll get better results from clear plastic which doesn’t reflect these wavelengths. One thing that may be useful to know about using blue plastic as a greenhouse covering is that it tends to result in lower temperatures inside the greenhouse as the result of blocking the blue portion of the spectrum; a very lightly blue-tinted plastic may be an acceptable alternative to clear plastic if you need to keep temperatures lower in your greenhouse and can live with smaller plants.
  • Red plastic performed the worst by far of any color of plastic sheeting tested. Simply put, it blocks too much of the light that your plants need for proper growth. Plants grown in greenhouses covered with red plastic sheeting tend to fare very poorly indeed, being only slightly over half the height of plants grown in greenhouses with clear coverings, although interestingly enough, leaf development doesn’t seem to suffer significantly as a result of using red plastic.
  • Still, it’s a color probably best avoided if you’re hoping to produce healthy, thriving flowers and vegetables in your greenhouse.

  • Yellow and purple plastic sheeting have also been tested as greenhouse coverings and the results have been less than ideal. Plants grown in greenhouses covered with yellow or purple plastic sheeting have many fewer leaves than those grown under clear plastic and the size of plants grown in greenhouses of this color is significantly smaller than the clear greenhouse control group. Like red, yellow and purple are colors of polyethylene sheeting which greenhouse gardeners should steer clear of if they want good results from their greenhouse plants.
  • Basically, while very lightly tinted blue plastic sheeting may not be a terrible thing in certain circumstances, colored plastic sheeting is something that most gardeners really won’t want to use at all for their greenhouses. There are no real advantages, for the most part, to using colored plastic for your greenhouse and with most of these colors, there are significant drawbacks as well. There has been some research suggesting that certain plants grow well under particular colors of light and this could be controlled by using colored plastic sheeting for your greenhouse, it’s probably not a good idea to do so unless you’re only growing one type of plant in your greenhouse.
  • As a rule of thumb, gardeners will want to give their plants what’s best for them – the full spectrum of natural sunlight. When it comes to providing your plants with the light they need, it seems that the choice is clear, quite literally. 

Learn more the author of this post:

Taylor Judice
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