Hygiene and maintenance

Once you’re using your glasshouse you need to keep on top of the maintenance, both to keep it an effective and hygienic place to grow plants and to lengthen its life.

Autumn is a good time to carry out most maintenance tasks as you generally have fewer plants inside the greenhouse and it’s still warm enough to move any residents outside while cleaning. If you tend to use the greenhouse less at other times of year then you may wish to carry out the maintenance then instead.

Before cleaning remove all the plants, staging and other equipment. Ensure you have protective equipment for yourself, such as gloves and goggles. Having disinfectant dripping into your eye from a greenhouse ceiling isn’t much fun!

The glazing should be cleaned at least once a year, both inside and out. A proprietary window cleaner or similar detergent can be used outside. Inside a disinfectant must be used. The aim of the cleaning is to remove any grime which has been reducing light transmission and any trace of diseases (such as fungal spores or pest eggs). Use a plastic plant label to scrape out grime from between the glazing panes.

The framework and floor should also be cleaned (again using disinfectant inside). The opportunity should be taken to carry out any repairs to the glazing and framework. Wooden and steel frames will require re-painting every few years.

Check all the gutters and any downpipes to ensure they aren’t blocked or cracked. Doors and vents should be oiled if necessary to ensure smooth opening.

Scrub the staging with disinfectant and clean any other equipment which you don’t clean regularly. Pots and other containers should also be washed with disinfectant.

Check all equipment, such as heaters, fans and watering systems, is working correctly. If possible, run watering systems through with disinfectant (rinsing them thoroughly afterwards).

Greenhouses can be fumigated (eg with a sulphur candle) to rid them of any remaining pests and fungal spores. Ensure you follow the instructions carefully, particularly in relation to whether you and/or your plants can remain in the greenhouse while it is being fumigated.

On a more frequent basis you should remove weeds from greenhouse borders, clean obvious dirt from the glazing and wash equipment/pots/containers with disinfectant between uses. Any shading applied in the summer should be removed in the autumn as the days shorten, shading paint is best removed by rubbing with a cloth.