Smithsonian Gardens (SG) designs, manages, and maintains the gardens and landscapes of the many Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., which attract over twenty million visitors each year. SG also develops horticultural displays and exhibitions for exterior and interior museum spaces.

Internships at Smithsonian Gardens are designed for students who seek a valuable learning experience in a public garden with a diverse workforce. Interns will work closely with horticultural professionals to acquire hands-on experience and complete meaningful projects with lasting value to SG.


This internship will allow the intern to experience various aspects of living collection management through working with the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection (SGOC), managed by horticulture staff in the Greenhouse Nursery Branch located in Suitland, Maryland.  This internship will offer the opportunity to promote an understanding of daily orchid cultural care, collections management best practices, and exhibition preparation.

The project’s primary focus will involve watering/fertilizing, repotting, and assisting with integrated pest management scouting and beneficial insect releases. The secondary focus of the project will include preparing collection plants for weekly deliveries, including virus testing, inventorying selected plants, preparing weekly delivery lists, and pulling/generating display labels.

This internship will meet the needs of a student interested in public gardens and seeking hands-on experience with living plants in the museum setting. The intern will work under the supervision of an Orchid Horticulturist.  Interns are encouraged to take advantage of the abundant resources of the Smithsonian Institution.


  • Record-keeping and daily maintenance of a large-scale living plant collection geared to conservation, education, and display.
  •  Repotting, Grooming, Pathogen scouting, monitoring plant’s health and assisting with problem solving.
  •  Preparing orchids for display and educational events both virtual/ in person.


  • Public gardens administration
  • Maintaining and documenting plant collections
  • Plant identification and/or collection records techniques


Applicants must be enrolled in a university horticulture or related program or recently graduated from one.  Selection is based on both an evaluation of the applicant’s application and available positions.

Candidates must pay for their own travel, housing, and subsistence during the period of the internship. Limited number of stipends available.

Requirements for applying to the Smithsonian Gardens intern program:

  • Submit an online application.
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • College transcript(s)
  • Essay describing background, interest in field, career goals, and chosen project.


Completed application, essay, academic records, and two letters of recommendation should be submitted online through the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System.