Difference between shade and green houses? Clear up the confusion here

Author: Aaron Chen  Date Posted:1 July 2019 

  • Shade house;
  • Greenhouse
  • Glasshouse;
  • Hot house;

So what is the difference between all these “houses”?

You may have known shade cloth helps to cover and protect your shade loving plants. However, after doing research online, you have come across different names for this “shade construction” such as shade houses, green houses, glass houses, hot houses, which causes some confusion. Even the writers of some articles are confused. The question needs to be asked “what is the difference” and “which type of “house” is really what I need?”


(Shade house)



The real difference only exists between shade houses and greenhouses as glasshouses and hot houses belong to the category of Greenhouse.

Shade houses sometimes look like a green house. Shade houses usually have shade cloth over it. They are used to protect cultivated plants from excessive heat, light or dryness. Different shade cloth may be available in different colours and percentages to protect plants from sun, frost etc. In other words, it provides shelter from the elements, which helps the shade loving plants inside, to have maximum growth. (Click here to know more about shade house.......)


Greenhouse, on the other hand, is opposite to a shade house. A greenhouse is a structure with a glass or plastic roof and frequently glass or plastic walls. Its roof and sides have to allow light to penetrate. The greenhouse heats up because incoming solar radiation from the sun warms plants, soil, and other things inside the building faster than heat can escape the structure. Greenhouses can also protect plants from wind, rain and animals.


Glasshouse is a form of greenhouse. Glass was once the only material suitable for this purpose, so glasshouse and greenhouse were pretty much synonymous.


Hothouse is a heated greenhouse for plants that require an even, relatively warm temperature.


What type of “house” do you really need?

You should understand your purpose of having a “shade house” or “green house”.

Purpose 1: For raise seedlings

In commercial nurseries the stages of plant growth are accommodated in different structures that increasingly expose the seedlings to outdoor conditions. Plants usually start in a glasshouse or a 'poly-tunnel'(more commonly known) and then to shaded structures and finally to a 'stand-out' area in full sun for final 'hardening off'.

A green house is usually used as raising seedlings and a shade house is used in the second stage. However, with proper management, a shade house can meet the needs of most of these stages if there is a reliable supply of water delivered as a fine mist or spray. With shade houses you can then roll up the sides for hardening off.

Purpose 2: For growing shade loving plants

There is no doubt that a shade house is a right choice.

A shade house can be used to grow plants that love shade such as orchids, ferns, capsicum, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula (rocket), endive, radicchio and some herbs or vegetables such as continental cucumbers, bush beans, climbing beans, tomatoes, strawberries, capsicums and a butternut. The shade cloth on the roof and on the walls can help generate a cooling breeze so that it keeps the pounding sun off your plant's leaves and helps the surrounding soil retain moisture.

On the other hand, a green house is not suitable for shade-loving plants in the hot summer. The temperature in the green house is even hotter in summer and it will badly damage the plants you are growing.

Purpose 3: For Protection

Both shade houses and green houses protect plants from animals like birds and pets which can destroy plants. Shade houses and greenhouses also protect your plants from frost. But a shade house works better in extreme hot weather and better protects plants that are cold or frost sensitive over winter.

In Summary

Having a good understanding of the difference between shade house, greenhouse, glass house and hothouse helps you do your research when it comes to purchase of a shade structure for your plants that love shade. Knowing why you are looking for such a “house” is more crucial as you won’t waste your time searching for something that is not going to work for you, or waste money on the wrong structure that may harm your plant’s health. Shade loving plants need to be well taken care of in a quality shade structure.

I hope this clarifies the situation and aids you in your research. So what kind of shade structure you are using and why you use them?

(PS. If you want to know more about shade house, why use a shade house and who should use a shade house, please click here)

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