Plant Staging: Tips for Perfect Placement

Plant Staging: Tips for Perfect Placement

Plants can be an unruly lot, growing from pot to pot, from seedling tray to bench top. The riot of growth begins in Spring and it’s the gardener’s gift to attempt to manage this enthusiasm.

Organising the plant staging in a greenhouse or conservatory can go a long way to maintaining order, ensuring plants get the light they require and are easy to reach with the watering can.

There is never enough space in a greenhouse, so installing staging is a great way to increase choice and productivity.

Here are our top plant staging ideas for perfect placement in and out of your greenhouse.

Use Plant Staging to Zone Your Greenhouse

Everything in the greenhouse starts with the potting bench, so locate this next to the door where you will have easy access to plants, potting material and tools. Use staging to make the most of the space below the potting bench.

Creating zoned staging space for cuttings, seedlings, tall plants, or mature potted specimens makes managing a greenhouse much easier.

In a standard greenhouse, arrange plant staging along each long side. Use the sunnier side for seedlings and less hardy varieties of plants. Extending the height of a staging with a table topper will increase space for seedlings.

Greenhouse Staging for Better Access

The recommended minimum width for a walkway in a greenhouse is 18 inches or 450mm. In the UK, the bestselling standard greenhouse is 6 feet wide (1.8m). Plant staging that is 20 inches, or 500mm, deep will leave a generous two feet or 600mm of access through the middle of the greenhouse.

500mm staging will give enough depth for two 15cm potted plants to grow comfortably side by side, and a gardener easy access when reaching across to water, trim or otherwise maintain a plant.

For extra growing space, consider installing staging across the end of the greenhouse too, making a U-shape configuration.

Plant staging ideas - U Shaped Tables

Use Modular Plant Staging

If you are just starting out with a new greenhouse setup, racking out the entire available area might be quite overwhelming! Once you have set up your potting area, and worked out a plan for storage, such as a separate garden store, or shed, then installing a three, or four-foot staging table next to it is a good way to get things going.

Trays of seedlings can take up a lot of space, then, when potting on, the last thing you need is to start overcrowding your plants. Once the growing season is well underway any extra staging will soon fill up.

Start with installing staging along the Northern half of your greenhouse, allowing light to flood the space. If your greenhouse is oriented North/South perhaps set your staging at the Northern end to maximise the benefit year-round.

Greenhouse Orientation

How your greenhouse is oriented has a major impact on how you can organise the space for maximum effectiveness. In the UK, many greenhouse gardeners favour a North/South alignment as it can provide a more even light level across the greenhouse.

But East/West-oriented greenhouses have their advantages too. The Southern side will deliver a longer early start to the growing season. Setting up a seedling table along this side of the greenhouse early on can give several varieties a head start.

Drop seedlings down a level as they grow to get them used to lower temperatures before you need to harden them off.

Is a Bigger Greenhouse Better?

An eight-foot by eight-foot greenhouse will give you the option of a third row of staging in the centre. With three rows of 500mm deep plant staging, you will still get 450mm or 18 inches of space between them.

The centre staging is in an ideal situation to take advantage of the extra height available. Above any tabletop extensions, consider fitting hanging baskets from the ridge, but only if the greenhouse manufacturer confirms this is possible.

However, centre staging is a great spot from which to show off some of your best specimens too, just as you enter the greenhouse.

If your greenhouse is wider, say eight by ten feet, double up the width of the centre plant staging area. Access from either side will remain within comfortable reach. Below this centre setup less light will be available, so use this for essential storage for pots, compost, unused trays, and other items.

Plant Staging and Visibility

The old saying, out of sight, out of mind, is very relevant when it comes to the placement of plants in a greenhouse. Keeping a small greenhouse tidy is always a challenge, so be careful to ensure you manage the visibility of all your plants.

By properly spacing your shelves, and not crowding your pots and trays you should be able to keep sight of everything as it grows. Seedlings are especially vulnerable, and it’s easy to miss them if they are set too high, or below something that is already a vigorous grower.

Light Levels and Plant Staging

In the Summer the sun can deliver a lux level of close to 25,000 Lumens at midday. In comparison, the average lighting requirement for an office is between 350 and 500 Lumens.

Most plants require between 1,000 and 2,000 Lumens for healthy growth. These levels are easily achievable below slatted staging if you allow approximately 300mm between the bed and the first shelf.

Steel staging can make the most of these light levels by adjusting the height of the shelving and even the spacing of the slats, which can also improve air circulation.

Consider using the lower levels for cut-and-come-again salad varieties.

Levelling Up and Down

Using adjustable plant staging can give a gardener many more options than fixed shelving can. The ability to accommodate plants that have similar light and water needs at different growth stages makes for much less work.

The more time a gardener has for potting and pottering, the better. Investing in versatility will pay off as the seasons change and pot plants are rotated in and out of the great outdoors.

Setting seedlings high up will let them take advantage of the warmer temperatures and light levels.

While You’re Here…

Take a look through our range of greenhouse staging table, seeding tables, and potting benches.

Outdoor Plant Staging

Resilient steel staging that can handle the vagaries of the British climate, is easy to clean, and adjusts to suit, is ideal when transitioning plants from greenhouse to allotment, vegetable patch or border.

Steel staging is lightweight but strong enough to take up to 50 kg. That’s the equivalent of 125 litres (two-and-a-half bags) of garden centre compost, so well capable of supporting any number of pots ready for planting.

One serious advantage steel has over timber staging is that wood often helps to over-winter pests and requires much more maintenance over time.

Using a combination of steel staging and table toppers can make a courtyard garden a mini summer oasis. Container gardening has its challenges, one of which is making space for all the varieties we would like to see.