Tag Archives: United_States_Botanic_Garden

Tour Notes

So my sweetness & light and I had a most excellent time touring the USBG Production Facility yesterday. The scale of the facility is hard to grasp when one is inside the glass houses, mainly because each house (although technically all under one roof) is maintained as a glass-walled separate entity (meaning 17 unique climates for raising plants from all over the planet). Nevertheless, the entire growing facility is a mind-boggling 85,000 square feet under glass.


The facility is responsible for propagating and maintaining all of the flora on display in the main USBG conservatory, as well as maintaining historically valuable flora and also certain rare or illegally-obtained plants seized at US borders (for example, they are currently caring for several rare Vietnamese Slipper orchids). They rotate out indoor tree and shrub displays for the Legislative branch (under whose auspices the USBG operates) and also engage in large scale propagation of several hardy bulb displays around Washington, DC. Here is the main avenue down to the separate house entrances:

Once you get down to the main elevation, the T intersection leads off on either side to row after row of individual (very large in their own right) glass houses. The entire facility’s environment is computer controlled, so optimal temperature and humidity fluctuations for each house’s climate zone can be maintained. The main drag is filled with potting stations and equipment. It was quite simply the most awesome setup I have ever seen.

Believe it or not, the above gargantuan Cycad (Cycas circinalis) is one collected during the original Wilkes Expedition of 1838. Some time ago it stood twice as tall as you see now and was completely unmanageable. It was sawed in half, and the upper portion was rooted in to a new container (it’s the half now in display in the main conservatory). This bottom half sprouted anew at the top and seems to be none the worse for wear.

In the desert climate house, we saw an enormous and diverse collection of xeriscape flora:

Creepy, Parodia scopa

The textures and coloration was just extraordinary:


I’m not very knowledgeable on many of these species, please feel free to comment below if you spot any you know!

I will continue in another post, picking up with orchids and bog plants!