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Department of Biology

The greenhouse is a place
of teaching and research

The 6,250 square foot structure provides 4,760 square foot of growing area. 

white flower

The Biology (Buckhout) Greenhouses at Penn State’s Eberly College of Science represent a long-standing, world class research and teaching facility. The research collections in the Botany Greenhouses have hosted extensive scientific research efforts for over 50 years, and have solidified Penn State’s reputation in the International Botanical Research Community.

Greenhouse Introduction

Heating: Primary heat is supplied by a ceiling mounted, forced air, steam unit. Perimeter passive fin tube deliveries supplemental heat to temper the chilling effect of exterior walls. Heating systems are independently controlled.

Cooling: Regulated by a thermostatically controlled 2 stage system. Stage one activates one evaporative cooler and opens 1 ridge vent. Stage two engages a second evaporative unit. At stage two one air exchange occurs in 1 ½ minutes.

Air Circulation: Variable speed, horizontal air flow fans circulate air to achieve uniform room temperatures.

Work Lighting: Four incandescent lamps can be manually switched or controlled by a 24 hour time clock.

Supplemental Growth Lighting: We now have 10 LED lights in each room that has a savings of up to 30% no electrical cost to the university. Two 30 Amp circuits service 10 lamps. Multiple cycles are possible for one lighting regime.

Shading: Open weave, reflective aluminum cloth provides 60% shading of the roof. The cloth is engaged by a motorized system. Gable end walls can also be shaded.

Electrical service: One 20 Amp 110 volt circuit provides power to four receptacles. Service outlets are located in the corners of the room.

Drainage: Concrete floors are sloped for drainage to outside gable end walls.

Covering: The structure is covered with Exolite, an acrylic material.

Transgenic Approved Areas: Two rooms are licensed for the growth of transgenic plants.

Staff: The greenhouse is serviced by one full time technician and 1 part time assistant

and managed by the greenhouse committee appointed by the Head of the Dept. of Biology.

Climate in the greenhouse is managed by the greenhouse technician on a per-room and per bench basis (to account for shade/sun/temperature). No one other than the greenhouse technician may alter these controls. If your project requires specific conditions, please notify the greenhouse manager of these requirements during your initial meeting. Not all climate conditions can be accommodated at all times (especially during repairs), and thus it is important to consider the range of conditions under which your project can be conducted and keep the greenhouse manager informed of your project’s changing needs.

Watering is provided by greenhouse staff on a daily basis for all greenhouse projects if needed. This can be requested within the space request form. This watering ensures that plants are kept healthy and monitored for transmissible diseases and greenhouse insect pests. This service does not monitor experimental success, long-term prospects for plant survival, or the need for pruning. Thus, a responsible party must observe healthy-plant projects on a weekly basis, and unhealthy, dying or dead plant projects on a daily basis as per the greenhouse guidelines below.

Pest control and Biohazard rooms - Under the direction of the greenhouse manager, licensed greenhouse staff members implement the application of pesticides and fungicides in the greenhouse, and the disposal of biologically hazardous material. These materials are properly labeled and are kept in areas not accessible to casual greenhouse entrants. No user of the greenhouse may interact with or use these materials on the premises without express permission from the greenhouse manager.

  1. All greenhouse users are required to take pesticide safety training, and are not permitted on the premises when pesticide signs are posted (please see details below).  Unlicensed personnel who enter sprayed areas before signs are expired are breaking the law according to Pennsylvania state pesticide regulations.
  2. No research collection should threaten the viability of other greenhouse collections, and observed damages to greenhouse structures or equipment should be reported to the greenhouse technician immediately.
  3. All growing areas are expected to be kept neat and orderly to ensure access to plants for proper plant care and maintenance.
  4. Greenhouse users are responsible for providing their own seed and plant growing supplies, and no materials may be introduced to the greenhouse without the prior approval of the greenhouse technician.
  5. Live plant material must be observed weekly, and reports must be made to the greenhouse manager verbally during office hours, or in writing by email.
  6. Diseased, dead and dying plant material must be monitored daily by a responsible party who can discontinue the experiment, and such materials may not be stored indefinitely in greenhouse space.
  7. Dead and diseased plant material for which no report has been made for seven days will be issued one written warning (addressed to the responsible party and his or her supervisor) and a subsequent 24 hour grace period will be given. Thereafter the plant material in question will be destroyed.

Collections for teaching purposes will be supervised and attended to at the discretion of the greenhouse technician. The greenhouse technician will coordinate with teaching staff to produce plants for botanical instruction. Ideally species lists and the number of specimens needed will be communicated to the greenhouse manager in writing six months prior to their intended date of use. Notice given with less than one month of lead time may result in only partially fulfilled or unfulfilled requests. Students who assist with teaching laboratories must also obtain relevant pesticide awareness credentials from Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).

Persons interested in conducting research in the greenhouse facility must be aware of and abide by regulations that ensure equal access to resources among the many members of the Biology Department. All personnel must be certified to work in the greenhouse as per the directions below in conjunction with Penn State Environmental Health and Safety.

Greenhouse space must be reserved at least two weeks in advance of introducing plants to the greenhouse, and the user must complete the online request form. Often greenhouse space is not immediately available, and thus planning ahead is extremely important. Within the request, information about the proposed experiment must be provided so the greenhouse manager can allocate your space in the best interests of the greenhouse and all of its users. Each space request, per experiment, is limited to a maximum of (6) months; whereupon, if more time is needed, another request can be submitted near the end date of the original request, and will be reviewed and granted pending prior submittals for space and current vacancy. Users may be requested by the greenhouse manager to relocate their experiments into another room with similar conditions (identical, if needed) if reorganizing is needed to accommodate additional users with similar climate 

All personnel who enter the Botany Greenhouse Facility must first obtain certification for the Pesticide Worker Protection Standard from Penn State Environmental Health and Safety (this includes Penn State employees, including students that receive some remuneration from Penn State). This course is required annually under the Pesticide Management Program for all employees who perform tasks relating to the production of agricultural plants at a facility that is covered by the Worker Protection Standard (farm, forest, nursery, or greenhouse). A link to the training can be found on this EH&S webpage The format of the training is a video shown in the classroom, whereupon completion, you will receive a certificate. Please give a copy of your certificate of completion to the greenhouse manager.