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Greenhouse vs. Hothouse: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 11, 2023
A greenhouse is a structure for growing plants under controlled conditions, while a hothouse is a heated greenhouse for delicate or tropical plants.

Key Differences

A greenhouse is a glass or plastic structure designed to cultivate and protect plants, allowing for controlled environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. Hothouse, a term often used interchangeably with greenhouse, specifically refers to a heated environment within such a structure, typically for growing delicate or tropical plants.
Greenhouses are used for a wide range of plants, including vegetables, flowers, and herbs, focusing on extending growing seasons and protecting plants from extreme weather. Hothouses, however, are specifically designed for plants that require consistently warm temperatures, such as orchids or certain tropical species.
The primary function of a greenhouse is to create a stable, controlled environment, utilizing natural light for plant growth. In contrast, a hothouse goes a step further by providing additional heat, often necessary for plants that thrive in warmer climates.
While greenhouses can be unheated or use minimal heating, hothouses are characterized by their higher temperatures, maintained to simulate tropical or subtropical conditions.
Both greenhouses and hothouses are structures for growing plants, but hothouses are a specific type of greenhouse with additional heating for temperature-sensitive plants.

Comparison Chart


Structure for controlled plant growth
Heated greenhouse for delicate plants

Temperature Control

Variable, can be unheated
Consistently warm or hot

Plant Types

Wide variety, including vegetables
Delicate, tropical plants


Primarily natural light
Natural light, may require extra heat


Extend growing seasons, protect plants
Simulate tropical conditions

Greenhouse and Hothouse Definitions


A system for extending growing seasons.
Her greenhouse allowed her to grow herbs year-round.


Warm environment for tropical plant growth.
The hothouse mimics a tropical climate.


Structure for controlled plant cultivation.
The greenhouse helps protect plants in winter.


A heated greenhouse for sensitive plants.
The orchids thrived in the hothouse.


A place for experimenting with plant growth.
The school's greenhouse is used for biology classes.


Greenhouse with controlled high temperatures.
The hothouse is essential for their exotic plant collection.


A glass building for growing plants.
They grew tomatoes in their greenhouse.


Place for cultivating plants needing warmth.
The botanical garden's hothouse houses various tropical species.


Environment for protecting plants from harsh weather.
The greenhouse shields delicate flowers from frost.


A structure for growing heat-loving plants.
They used a hothouse to grow rare tropical fruits.


A structure, primarily of glass or sheets of clear plastic, in which temperature and humidity can be controlled for the cultivation or protection of plants.


A heated greenhouse for plants that require an even, relatively warm temperature.


A building used to grow plants, particularly one with large glass windows or plastic sheeting to trap heat from sunlight even in intemperate seasons or climates.


An environment conducive to vigorous growth or development; a hotbed
"With its mix of African, Latin, European, and pan-American influences, the Caribbean is truly a musical hothouse" (New Yorker).


Grown in a hothouse
A hothouse orchid.


What is a greenhouse?

A structure for growing plants in controlled conditions.

What is a hothouse?

A heated greenhouse for tropical or delicate plants.

What can you grow in a greenhouse?

A variety of plants, including vegetables and flowers.

Are hothouses always tropical?

Generally, they simulate tropical or subtropical conditions.

Is a greenhouse the same as a hothouse?

No, a hothouse is a type of greenhouse with heating.

Do greenhouses need to be heated?

Not necessarily, they can be unheated.

Are greenhouses energy efficient?

They can be, especially with modern materials and designs.

Why are hothouses heated?

To provide a warm environment for heat-loving plants.

Can you grow herbs in a hothouse?

Yes, especially tropical varieties.

Do hothouses require special care?

Yes, they need regular temperature and humidity monitoring.

What types of plants need a hothouse?

Tropical, subtropical, and some delicate plants.

Do hothouses help in plant breeding?

Yes, especially for breeding tropical species.

Is it expensive to maintain a hothouse?

It can be, due to the cost of heating.

Can a greenhouse be used in winter?

Yes, to protect plants from cold and frost.

Can you grow orchids in a greenhouse?

Yes, but a hothouse is better suited for most orchids.

Can hothouses accelerate plant growth?

Yes, by providing optimal warm conditions.

What materials are used for greenhouses?

Commonly glass or plastic.

How do you control temperature in a hothouse?

Through heating systems and sometimes ventilation.

Do greenhouses protect plants from pests?

They can help, but pests can still be an issue.

Can a greenhouse be used for research?

Yes, they're often used in scientific and agricultural studies.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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