Your summer greenhouse maintenance guide

Added July 20, 2023

As a greenhouse grower, you know maintaining and protecting your greenhouse is just as important to your bottom line as a good yield. This is especially true during the summer season when heat and steady customer demands place extraordinary stress on your greenhouse and your staff.

The hot and humid environments inside—and outside—your structures enhance issues like metal corrosion, clogged cooling pads, HVAC system strain, and plant diseases. Now isn't the time for any greenhouse challenges to halt production.

No matter how advanced or tech-savvy your greenhouse operation is, routine maintenance shouldn't be an afterthought. Check out these tips for a trouble-free spring and summer season.

Closely monitor temperature and humidity

Summer heat can be challenging for plants, leading to heat stress, wilting, and even death. Maintaining proper ventilation and temperature control is crucial for your greenhouse environment, keeping your inventory as robust as your sales revenue.

  • Create a daily schedule to manually check temperature and humidity levels, adjusting them as needed

  • Use temperature and humidity sensors to monitor the conditions inside your greenhouse and alert you to any changes either visually or via electronic alerts to your phone or email

  • Install automated ventilation systems to help regulate temperatures and reduce heat buildup

  • Use shade cloths, reflective materials, or blinds to block plants from excessive heat and help prevent heat stress as the sun intensifies throughout the day

  • Regularly clean and disinfect your evaporative cooling pads to enhance airflow and minimize fungus growth

Implement appropriate shading and sun protection

Greenhouses need sun protection, too. Intense sunlight during summer can scorch delicate plants and cause sunburn through your greenhouse covering.

  • Install shade cloths or apply a shade paint to protect your plants from excessive heat and direct sunlight

  • Consider using a multi-layer shade cloth system with varying shading percentages to tailor the light intensity based on the specific needs of your plants

  • Regularly monitor the shade levels and adjust as required to provide the right balance of light for optimal growth

  • Clean shading materials and check to ensure they're working properly

Safely monitor and maintain proper airflow

Adequate airflow is critical to help prevent the buildup of excessive humidity, control temperature, and minimize the risk of fungal diseases. Remember, always disconnect power when inspecting fans.

  • Regularly clean and inspect fans, vents, and other ventilation systems to make sure they're functioning efficiently and effectively

  • Check your fans for loose or worn belts and tighten or replace any screws that may have vibrated loose

  • Lubricate roof and sidewall vent bearings, rack and pinions, and arm hinge points

  • Grease shutter hinge points so they close tight, and check the fluid in the gearbox drives

  • With automated vents, double-check the minimum and maximum vent positions to ensure they stop at the correct spot

  • Clear any obstructions or debris that may impede air movement

Optimize watering and irrigation practices

Watering your crops plays a vital role in summer upkeep—and can affect your operational budget. Hotter temps and higher water needs call for reliable watering efficiencies.

  • Incorporate automated drip irrigation systems or soaker hoses to provide targeted watering that can minimize water waste and prevent foliage wetness

  • Check soil moisture levels daily and water thoroughly when needed, avoiding the temptation to overwater

  • Develop a watering schedule specific to each plant species and monitor the results to adjust as needed

  • Regularly inspect irrigation systems to ensure they're functioning and aren't leaking

Carefully calculate nutrient management

Your inventory attracts the eye of the shopper when it's healthy and robust. But soil management and fertilization are a true science, so take precautions in maintaining a healthy soil structure and pH level. The outcome could affect your sales.

  • Implement a comprehensive fertilization program tailored to the specific needs of your greenhouse crops

  • Regularly monitor and adjust your fertilization routine

  • Consider using slow-release fertilizers or organic amendments to provide a steady supply of nutrients during the growing season

  • Conduct regular soil tests to determine any deficiencies and adjust your fertilizer application accordingly

  • Adhere to recommended dosages and application schedules to avoid nutrient imbalances or phytotoxicity

Control pest infestation and plant disease

Consider a holistic and sustainable approach to pest control that focuses on minimizing the use of chemical pesticides while effectively managing pests.

  • Have an Integrated Pesticide Management program (IPM) in place and use biologicals to reduce the amount of pesticides needed to control unwanted pests

  • Examine plants regularly and promptly dispose or isolate those that show signs of pests or disease

  • Thoroughly inspect your greenhouse for small gaps in the base, frame, or glazing panels, and properly fill them

  • Make sure doors close tightly and add weather-stripping or caulk to close off any gaps

  • Clean and sanitize floors, benches, and equipment to prevent the spread of diseases and pests

Regulate infrastructure cleaning and maintenance

Storms, high winds, and age can put a strain on greenhouse structures. Stay on top of maintenance, cleaning, and inspection tasks.

  • Inspect and repair any damaged or worn-out components, such as greenhouse structures, irrigation systems, cladding (coverings), and climate-control devices

  • Maintain and calibrate equipment to optimize performance and prolong lifespan

  • Check for signs of damage or wear and tear, such as leaks or broken windows, and repair them promptly

  • Clean and inspect fans, vents, and louvers to ensure they're working efficiently and remove any debris or obstructions

  • Wash polycarbonate and acrylic panels with a mild detergent and lukewarm water to remove dirt, smog, and debris—and measure the level of lighting

  • Clean greenhouse surfaces, including glass or plastic panels, to maximize light transmission

Hold a safety training for staff

Maintaining a safe working environment is vital for the longevity of your greenhouse, the well-being of your employees, and the safety of your customers.

  • Provide a comprehensive safety training that includes handling chemicals properly, operating equipment responsibly, identifying potential hazards, and heat illness prevention

  • Require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help minimize accidents and injuries

  • Regularly communicate safety protocols and ensure employees are aware of emergency procedures

  • Empower your staff to make customer safety a top priority

Your commercial property insurance complements your maintenance plan

A strong maintenance plan can help prolong the life of your greenhouse and help you avoid breakdowns, but it doesn't stop a storm from causing unexpected damage. Commercial property insurance can help protect your business after storm damage, equipment failure, or climate-control system failures. Even if you can't plant your next crop due to damage, this type of coverage could help protect your future income.

Review your current policy to make sure you're adequately covered. Our representatives have the experience and knowledge to assess—and help mitigate—the unique risks you face. If you have questions or would like to learn more about our commercial property insurance, contact us or request a quick quote.

Related links:

Building or upgrading a greenhouse? Review the pros and cons of popular greenhouse coverings in this comprehensive guide.

If you suffer damage to your greenhouse or greenhouse covering, you'll need to file a claim. Here are five helpful tips for reporting a claim.

We understand the top risks horticultural businesses face. Learn about the customized insurance coverages that can help protect your operation.

Greenhouse fan for air circulation in the summer heat

The information in this article is for informational or entertainment purposes only. View our disclaimer by going to terms and conditions and clicking on Learning Center disclaimer in the table of contents.