Greenhouse and Conservatory Information
The Plant Biology (PLB) Greenhouse and Conservatory is operated by the Plant Biology Program, College of Agricultural, Life, and Physical Sciences at Southern Illinois University. Its purpose is to support the educational and research goals of that College as well as other campus units. These include:
- providing PLB faculty and students with growing space and professional advice on growing plants for various research projects.
- maintaining a conservatory of living plants to facilitate teaching in general as well as specialized biology classes.
- maintaining specialized collections such as aquatic plants, cacti and succulents, economically important plants, carnivorous plants, house plants, and orchids.
- providing community outreach by leading tours of elementary and secondary school children that use the above specialized collections to demonstrate basic ecological concepts.
The greenhouse is actually a complex of four inter-connected greenhouses and a headhouse. The headhouse contains an office for greenhouse staff, restrooms, storage areas for supplies and equipment, and a repotting area. During the cold months of the year the greenhouses are heated by means of steam transmitted through pipes to radiators within the individual houses. No temperature controls exist for the hot summer months, thus shade cloth, ventilation panes and fans are used in an attempt to keep temperatures within the growing range of plants. Despite these efforts, temperatures in the greenhouse on hot summer days may exceed 120 degrees F. All ventilation panes, both on the walls and roof of the houses, must be opened and closed manually. Supplemental lighting exists in two of the four houses for extending day length.
Several different conditions are maintained allowing the cultivation of
- cacti and succulents (south house)
- ferns and other non-flowering plants, begonias, aroids, carnivorous plants (middle house)
- annuals, classroom plants, and research plants requiring high light (north house)
- tropical plants (main house)
The main house has two small ponds for aquatic plants and a drip wall. Concentrated mainly in the main house are plants used for "set-ups", i.e. floral displays at university functions such as graduation.
In addition to inside space, the greenhouse maintains several flower beds along its outside perimeter, particularly on the east and north sides. The space between the north, middle, and south houses has in the past been used for various ecological research projects.