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A greenhouse gardener supervises plants growing in a greenhouse, a structure that provides a controlled environment for gardening. Greenhouses may be used to grow plants out of season or to cultivate plants that normally cannot thrive in a given climate. They can also be used to cultivate plants that require tight temperature controls or are especially vulnerable to infestations and thus cannot be grown outside.
Gardening in a greenhouse requires some special skills. The controlled environment can turn into a tomb for plants if it is not properly maintained. One aspect of a greenhouse gardener's work is making adjustments to keep the environment safe and healthy for the plants being cultivated inside. This requires a knowledge of the conditions plants need to grow, as well as familiarity with the greenhouse. Greenhouse gardeners can establish sprinkler and misting systems for watering, fans and screens for controlling air flow and temperature, and take other steps to keep the climate stable for the plants.
A variety of gardening tools and techniques are used in a greenhouse. The greenhouse gardener selects the techniques and tools most suited to a given need and maintains gardening equipment so that it will be ready for use when it is needed. This can also include ordering supplies as they are needed and making repairs to the greenhouse itself.
Nurseries use greenhouse gardeners to establish starts. The starts can be sold once they begin to mature or they may be used to cultivate other plants and seeds for sale. Greenhouse gardeners are also involved in agricultural operations, from flower growing to lettuce cultivation. For plants grown entirely in greenhouses, such as hothouse fruits for cold climates, the greenhouse gardener supervises every stage of the operation, from planting seeds to getting plants and plant products to market.
Greenhouse gardeners can also be hired to meet special gardening needs. Pharmaceutical companies use greenhouses to raise plants for pharmaceutical research and production and skilled gardeners are needed to control the conditions. Likewise, producers of herbal medicine, herbal extracts, and other plant products need greenhouse gardeners.
There are several ways in which someone can train to be a greenhouse gardener. Some people train by working directly in gardens, assisting other gardeners and learning the tools of the trade. Others may take college and university courses in horticulture. For people who want to focus on a specific area of work, such as growing plants for scientific research, additional study may be needed to learn more about how such plants are used. Greenhouse gardeners with advanced qualifications are sometimes more employable.