Longwood Gardens' production greenhouse facilities are the perfect marriage of beauty and brawn.

Here at Longwood, we grow 1,300 (and growing!) types of plants each year for seasonal displays in the Conservatory and our outdoor gardens...and we need to grow them precisely and efficiently, while attending to each plant type's individual needs.

Our new nursery production greenhouse, opened in December 2020 and located along Route 1, opens up new worlds with its unique design that accommodates a variety of plant materials, growing methods, and environments. Consisting of a 15,600-square-foot headhouse and 65,348-square-foot greenhouse, the new facility greatly increases our level of environmental control, automation, and overall sustainability. Built of steel and tempered glass, which allows for the highest level of light transmission, the greenhouse portion houses 60 percent of our crop production…and it features a staggering 17 distinct growing zones to accommodate the diverse palette of plants we custom-grow for our seasonal displays. Notably, in our new greenhouse we can, for the very first time, grow cascade chrysanthemums—an integral component of our annual Chrysanthemum Festival—and thereby protect them from outdoor heat, humidity, and moisture levels that often lead to fungal disease.

The new greenhouse features a very unique structural design that allows for so many different growing opportunities. One-half of the greenhouse utilizes a unique open-roof “cabrio” design developed by Deforche Construct in Belgium, in which the roof can slide completely open to allow for optimal indoor climate…which in turn provides passive cooling in summer, lowers energy costs, and allows the highest light levels possible. The other half of the greenhouse is based on the “venlo” roof design, which features individual vents to allow for ventilation combined with evaporative cooling to provide to optimize summer and temperature control.

Under this two-roof design, the greenhouse features curtain systems for; shade daylength control and winter heat-retention, grow lights, as well as a new soil transport system and a 580-foot-long custom conveyor system with a built-in watering system customized for growing our hanging baskets. With the facility’s groundbreaking design and features, we can grow our plants more precisely and with less resource input…which leads to even higher levels of horticultural artistry here at Longwood.

Our new nursery production greenhouse is complemented by our existing 30,000-square-foot production greenhouse facility, opened in 1999 and located behind our Conservatory. Technical systems power this 378' by 80' range of nine greenhouses zones, making it possible to produce exquisite plants year-round under all conditions. Beneath the greenhouse lies a subterranean mechanical empire with steam and condensate pipes running through tunnels that are spacious, well lit, and allow for complete access by maintenance personnel. Another greenhouse facility constructed in the 1960s consists of three 5,700-square-foot zones further supports the growth of seasonal display plants, most notably aquatics and hanging baskets.

Seven pump stations collect condensate for return to Longwood’s main boiler plant, where three massive boilers fueled by oil or natural gas, produce steam that travels through thousands of feet of pipe to also heat the Conservatory and adjacent offices, in addition to the existing production greenhouse facility. Each greenhouse is equipped with its own computerized system that automatically controls temperature using bench and perimeter heat, snow melters, and devices for cooling and shading.