Somewhere between a large cloche and a small greenhouse, cold frames are protective enclosures which provide invaluable protection for seeds, cuttings and tender plants, especially during cold months.
Cold frames can make a gardener's early spring and autumn much more active for growing, allowing peas and beans to get off to an early start, or giving tender young plants time to harden off, ready for the summer months.
Whether you’re looking for wooden cold frames from sustainably sourced timber or something compact and stylish, you’ll find just what you need in our pick of garden cold frames.
You might also find our guide to the best potting benches helpful, as well as our round up of the best secateurs if you’re planning to propagate your plants.
How to choose a cold frame.
Cold frames are made from a number of different materials:
- Glass cold frames are often the most expensive and they are fragile, as glass breaks easily but they let in more light than other materials allowing in the most light.
- Cold frames with polycarbonate panes are cheaper than glass and longer lasting but they don't allow in as much light.
- Wooden cold frames tend to provide regular temperatures and are strong and sturdy but the wooden frame will need some regular maintenance to prolong its life.
- Aluminium cold frames are light and long-lasting, but may be expensive.
Cold frames are versatile and can be modified to better suit your plant’s needs. Whether you’re looking to insulate your cold frame as you would a greenhouse, or even just add a splash of colour, if you can’t see a cold frame that suits all your needs, browse our DIY section for instructions on how to make your own.
The best garden cold frames for plants
Browse our recommendations for garden cold frames, in a variety of sizes and mix of materials, below:
VegTrug Small Wallhugger Greenhouse Frame & Multi Cover Set
This will transform your VegTrug into a mini greenhouse with a polythene cover that helps warm the soil in the spring and lets in plenty of light to encourage seedlings to thrive. It features windows on three sides, and there’s a micromesh layer to offer protection against birds and other pests.
Measurements: L99cm x W71cm x H90cm
FeelGoodUK Large Cold Frame Greenhouse
This is a well-designed large cold frame with doors on the front, as well as vents on the roof that can be propped open. PVC panels allow light to help seedlings and plants thrive, while offering protection against harsh weather. It comes flat-packed, so factor in some time to build it.
- Buy FeelGoodUK Large Cold Frame Greenhouse on Amazon
Urban Balcony Raised Bed and Hood
Designed to fit the Urban Raised Bed (link) this transparent cover enables balcony-growers to provide a bit of plant protection and get seedlings off to an early start, too. We particularly like that there are holes in the top, which means you can water without removing the hood.
Price: from £12.99
Timber Grozone Cold Frame
This ground-level cold frame box sits pretty amongst the flowerbeds. The timber frame is pressure treated to protect against rotting and the plastic panes are shatter-resistant for sturdiness and peace of mind. It also has adjustable height settings so you can fix it to a level that works for you.
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Measurements: W100cm x D65cm x H40cm
Timber Grozone Max
For those who need more space, this large, multi-level cold frame has plenty of room to germinate seeds and shelter plants from the elements. The polycarbonate glazing is UV-stabilised and the wooden frame is made from FSC-certified timber. For easy access and ventilation across every shelf it has double front doors and a lift-up lid.
Measurements: W69cm x D49cm x H120cm
Simplicity Toughened Glass Mini Cold Frame
This neat, cold frame would work well in the corner of a patio and doesn't take up too much room. The two safety glass windows can slide out completely or lift into preset positions to suit different stages of growth or weather conditions.
Measurements: D64 x H53cm
Price: from £145.99
- Buy Simplicity Mini Cold Frame at Twowests
Large Pressure Treated Wooden Cold Frame
Made from pressure treated FSC certified timber, this wooden cold frame has been built to last. Two individual lids each feature a single pane of transparent acrylic and can be propped open separately to allow ventilation. A long, good sized cold frame, this would sit well in larger gardens or on allotments.
Measurements: W167 x D50 x H37.5cm
- Buy Large Pressure Treated Wooden Cold Frame at Cherry Lane
Rowlinson Hardwood Cold Frame
Rowlinson's hardwood cold frame features twin-walled polycarbonate glazing and has two storage shelves, offering extra room for young plants to thrive. Access, care and ventilation are provided through the front opening door or the lid, which can also be propped open. It's guaranteed for one year.
Measurements: H80 x W60 x D61cm
Halls Aluminium Cold Frame
If you’re looking for a cold frame with a little more height, this model with its apex sliding roof is a good option. The four roof lids provide easy access from every angle and they’re glazed with panes of toughened safety glass. The frame itself is made from aluminium and steel and guaranteed for 10 years.
Measurements: H62 x W86 x D129cm
- Buy Halls Aluminium Cold Frame at Halls
VidaLX Firwood Cold Frame
VidaXL's simple, wooden cold frame offers a wide, easily accessible nurturing space. Tanalised wood gives improved weatherproofing and a single, dual window lid provides easy access to your plants. It's guaranteed for a year.
Measurements: H41 x W56 x D109cm
- Buy VidaXL Firwood Cold Frame from VidaXL
Victorian grow house - rectangular
A feature of this cold frame that we particularly enjoy is that its sides, tray, lid and base are all separate components, and may be adjusted to the user’s needs, whether it’s providing bonus ventilation via removing the lid, converting the cold frame from standing to ground-level by removing the legs, or simply removing the walls and using this cold frame as a handy garden shelf. It’s a small detail, but one that makes the Victorian Grow House frame far more versatile than the average cold frame!
Measurements: L70cm x W41cm x H51cm (with lid and excluding 16.5cm legs)
Palram 4 x 4ft Plant Inn Garden Bed Mini Greenhouse, Clear Polycarbonate
This raised cold frame offers robust protection, utility, and a five year manufacturer’s warranty. With a 72cm tall container in its raised base, this cold frame doubles up as an effective storage container, making it perfect for gardens with limited floor space. Polycarbonate sheets afford your plants significant protection, but are adjustable and transparent, so as to give them access to light and fresh air.
Measurements: 121 x 120 x 148 cm
Buy the Palram 4x 4ft Plant Inn from Amazon
Haxnicks Vigoroot Easy Table Garden | Self Watering Raised Bed Planter With Cover
Standing at just over 1m, and at 80cm wide, this thin, compact raised bed comes with a transparent plastic cover, which converts it into a cold frame. This hybrid construction gives this cold frame an all-year-round utility which makes it perfect for inner-city gardens with limited space.
This frame’s self-watering capabilities consist of a third trough between the two trays, from which capillary water conduits draw water into the soil. This frame’s ‘vigoroot’ material claims to encourage robust root growth through air-pruning roots and encouraging complex root system development.
For gardeners looking to cultivate smaller crops in conditions that don’t require heavy-duty protection, this cold frame is a stand-out pick.
Measurements: 80.01 x 33.02 x 115.01 cm
Buy the Haxnicks Vigoroot Easy Table Garden from Amazon
Gro-Sure Visiroot Growhouse
Unseasonable heat in the UK can be troublesome for gardeners and lethal for young seedlings, but this new product from gro-sure employs a simple solution to ensure its cold frame provides cross-seasonal protection. The gro-sure visiroot growhouse has a two-zip design, meaning it can be partially unzipped from the top and bottom to allow heat to escape from the top, and cold air to enter from below. This sturdy cold frame is made from recycled materials, and its distinctive appearance allows up to 50% more growing space than similarly-sized products.
Measurements: 60 x 90 x 41cm
Buy the Gro-Sure Visiroot Growhouse from Trowell Garden Centre
This Product Guide was last updated in March 2023. We apologise if anything has changed in price or availability.