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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Greenhouse and Growing

Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden, The Bonsai & Penjing Collection, and Dana Greenhouses (left to right)
Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden, The Bonsai & Penjing Collection, and Dana Greenhouses

The Dana Greenhouses serve as the point of entry for all accessions acquired for the living collections. Over the past two decades, propagation staff have germinated seed from expeditions to the Caucus region of the former Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Europe, North Africa, and North America. An average (3-year [2017-2019]; pre-pandemic) of 216 seed accessions are processed annually.

While seeds are a primary means of collections development, plants and propagules (e.g., softwood and hardwood cuttings, grafts) are also collected and received. Some of these materials support repropagation efforts employed to conserve accessioned plants whose health is threatened by age, storm injury, and/or damage by insects or disease. Others are acquired to fulfill discrete collections enhancement goals. Nursery stock is sometimes planted directly into the permanent collections. However, this practice is the exception rather than the rule. These criteria and related collections decisions are guided by our Collections Policy.

Plants grown from seed or propagule remain within the greenhouse compound for an average of five to seven years. During this time, observations on hardiness and vigor are catalogued in our database of record (BG-BASE). Only after rigorous evaluation do plants of an appropriate size make their way to the grounds by way of container, bare root, or drum-laced balls.

In addition to nurturing accessioned material for the permanent collection, greenhouse staff grow plants for the spring dividend and special events. Services are also rendered for researchers, nurseries, institutions, and individuals. Learn more about the availability of research and propagation materials or join the Friends of the Arboretum for opportunities to grow notable plants in your own landscape.

Related Articles and Resources

  • Enzenbacher, T., J.H. Alexander III. 2016. A Concise Chronicle of Propagation. Arnoldia 74(1): 2-13. [pdf]
  • Howard R.A. 1962. The Charles Stratton Dana Greenhouses of the Arnold Arboretum. Bulletin of Popular Information 22(5-6): 33-48. [pdf]

Read more stories about plant production at the Arnold Arboretum