The Smithsonian Gardens Greenhouse Facility serves as the base of production and maintenance of plant material for the gardens and horticultural exhibits throughout the Smithsonian Institution. It houses the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection, tropical plant specimens, and interior display plants, and also includes a greenhouse devoted to nectar plants used for the Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History.
Greenhouse Production Internship
SG’s Greenhouse Nursery Operations manage the production facility that provides plants and related supplies used to meet the horticultural needs of the Smithsonian gardens, landscapes, and museums. Major areas of emphasis include the propagation and production of annuals and hanging baskets for flower beds and gardens; production of tropical plants and seasonal pot plants for special events; production of poinsettias for the winter season; and management of the plant collections. Working directly with SG staff in charge of the program, interns 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.
Interior Plantscaping Internship
This internship involves maintenance of the various seasonal displays inside the Smithsonian museums as well as long range planning for them. The intern works directly with the interior plant section horticulturist and undertakes a thorough review of the many interior plant spaces throughout the Smithsonian to determine the needs of each plant display area. The intern assists with maintaining tropical plants and preparing accurate plant label lists using proper plant nomenclature.
This position provides opportunities to research seasonal plant materials that provide long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing displays. It also provides insight into the special challenges of maintaining plant material in certain adverse conditions posed by interior spaces.
Internships with Greenhouse Nursery Operations and Interior Plantscaping involve manual labor; exposure to adverse weather conditions (particularly heat and humidity); and exposure to dust, dirt, and possibly some horticultural chemicals. They 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 and production of seasonal plants, to researching nomenclature and public programming.
Requirements for applying to the Smithsonian Garden intern program:
- Submit an online application
- Two letters of recommendation
- College transcript(s)
- Essay describing background, interest in field, and career goals
Completed application, essay, academic records, and two letters of recommendation should be submitted online through the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System.