Greenhouse Nursery Operations Internship

Available in summer, fall, and winter

Internships with Greenhouse Nursery Operations involve manual labor; exposure to adverse weather conditions (particularly heat and humidity); and exposure to dust, dirt, and possibly some horticultural chemicals. Internships that focus on the gardens and greenhouse operations include regular horticulture maintenance duties such as planting, watering, weeding, and pruning.

Special projects are typically added to an intern’s regular duties so that they can practice project management skills needed to see a project through from start to finish. Projects vary greatly and are determined on an individual basis. They may include everything from record-keeping, production of seasonal plants, researching nomenclature and public programming.

Greenhouse Production (summer, fall and winter)

GreenhouseSG’s Greenhouse Nursery Operations manage the production facility that provides plants and related supplies necessary to meet the horticultural needs of the Smithsonian museums. Major areas of emphasis include the propagation and production of annuals and hanging baskets for the flower beds and gardens; production of tropical plants and seasonal pot plants for special events; production of poinsettias for the winter holiday season; and the management of the plant collections. Working directly with SG staff in charge of the program, the intern will assist with cultivation techniques used to produce various seasonal pot crops. This includes potting rooted cuttings, watering, weeding, fertilizing, and monitoring and controlling various diseases and pests.


Smithsonian Orchid Exhibit (winter only)

This internship will give the student the opportunity to experience various aspects of living collection management working with the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection (SGOC) managed by Smithsonian Gardens. This internship will offer the opportunity to promote an understanding of weekly exhibition preparation and a project to complete a portion of the collection inventory. The intern will be involved with the weekly change-outs of the plant material in the exhibit and some cultural care in the orchid exhibition and interior plantscapes in the Smithsonian museums. The intern works under the supervision of the Manager, Greenhouse Nursery Operations Branch.

The primary focus of the internship will involve preparing collection plants for weekly exhibition deliveries including inventorying selected plants, preparing weekly delivery lists and pulling/generating display labels. The intern will gain hands-on experience with processing a living collection for a multi-month exhibition; understanding of collection management practices related to a living collection; learn about orchid cultural care and best practices; and how to create content for a variety of social media platforms.

This internship is designed to meet the needs of a student who is interested in public gardens, seeking experience in living plant collections, and is interested in enhancing their plant identification and/or collection records techniques


Smithsonian Orchid Collection (summer and fall)

This internship is designed to provide the student with the opportunity to learn various components of living plant collections management working with the Smithsonian Orchid Collection. Under the direction of Smithsonian Gardens’ staff, the intern will become competent in core areas of plant records management through training, experiential learning, and self-guided project work. Projects focus on preparing collection orchids for exhibition, nomenclature verification, accessioning, printing accession labels and tagging plants, and cataloging digital images.

The intern will learn the essentials of basic museum practices, records management review, collections development planning, and approaches to taxonomic verification. The intern will become proficient in the use of living collections management software BG-Base and Smithsonian Institution’s Digital Asset Management System (DAMS).

This project is designed to meet the needs of a student who is interested in public gardens administration, is seeking experience in plant collections, and is interested in enhancing their plant identification and/or collection records techniques.

Interior Plantscaping (internships available in summer and fall only)

This internship involves maintenance of the various seasonal displays within the Smithsonian museum interiors as well as long range planning for them. The intern will work directly with the interior plant section horticulturist and undertake a thorough review of the many interior plant spaces throughout the Smithsonian to determine the needs of each plant display area within each museum. The intern will assist with maintaining tropical plants and preparing verified plant label lists using proper plant nomenclature.

This position will provide opportunities to research seasonal plant materials which effectively provide long lasting and aesthetically pleasing displays. It will also provide insight into special challenges of maintaining plant material in certain adverse conditions posed by interior spaces.


If you have questions regarding the internship application process, please contact the Intern Coordinator at (202) 633-5840 or e-mail at