Plant Care Facility Plant Care Facility Plant Care Facility

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Operating Procedures

Hours of Operation

The normal working hours for the greenhouses are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

First-time Users of the PCF

All first-time users of the PCF are required to schedule an orientation session through the PCF Coordinator (1222 PSL). This session will introduce the user to the resources of the PCF and common facilities available for use. Proper procedures for handling containers, soil mixes and fertilizers, pest avoidance and control, water systems and irrigation, and other hot topics will be discussed and/or demonstrated.


  1. Access to the PCF and support areas is limited to authorized faculty, staff, and students. Visitors should be accompanied by a faculty member, staff member, or student while in the greenhouse or support areas. Children should be under the direct supervision of an adult at all times.
  2. Use of the PCF for tours, classes, or other activities is to be scheduled at least 4 weeks in advance of the activity. Please use a Tour Request Form, available outside of 1222 PSL (also available on-line) to schedule your activity.
  3. Users requiring after-hours or weekend access to the greenhouse or support areas will be issued the appropriate keys through the PCF Coordinator or Clerk. Persons issued keys are responsible for the security of the building.
  4. All outside doors, tunnel access doors, and support area doors are to be locked at all times except during normal working hours.

Use of Facilities and Sanitation

  1. All users of the PCF are expected to observe good housekeeping rules by returning equipment and unused supplies to proper storage areas and by cooperating in keeping the facilities clean and orderly. Sound sanitation practices are necessary in order to reduce, if not eliminate, disease and insect problems.
  2. Use clean, sterile containers and tools which are supplied by the PCF. Avoid putting plant material, containers, or tools on the floor or other "contaminated" surface. The floor is not a desirable work area. All used pots and containers should be returned to assigned storage areas.
  3. Take care not to contaminate the pasteurized soil in carts or tubs. Only use sterile scoops, dustpans, and brushes on bench surfaces.
  4. All watering hoses should be stored off the aisle walkways, and breakers/nozzles must be kept off the ground.
  5. Report all pest problems to a member of the greenhouse staff immediately so that its spread can be contained.
  6. Do not use greenhouse space for storage of pots or other supplies.
  7. Notify a member of the permanent greenhouse staff if unsterile field soil or wild, collected plant material will be brought into the greenhouse.
  8. Do not use greenhouse space for the rearing or housing of personal plants.
  9. All transgenic material must be autoclaved by the user prior to disposal 

Container Spacing Guidelines

  1. Avoid overcrowding to allow space between rows to provide adequate access for irrigation and pesticide applications.
  2. Avoid under-potting to mitigate lodging and water stress.
  3. Ultimate management is the user's responsibility.

Transgenic Plant Material: Handling and Disposal

Transgenic plant material (BL-1 or BL-2 * ) must be grown in an isolated room that is kept locked at all times. All plant material must be rendered biologically inactive by the use of live steam or by autoclaving. The Turner Hall Greenhouse has high pressure steam available for this purpose. The PSL Greenhouse has two autoclaves at the south end of the head house. Please contact a PCF Staff member for instructions before using this equipment.

Projects need to be registered with the Biological Safety Committee on campus under the guidance of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (DEHS). Our faculty contact person is Dr. S.S. Korban. All BL-2 projects need to have a Registration Assessment from this committee. The researcher is responsible to explain and to train anyone handling any hazardous materials. A copy of the Registration Assessment should be provided to the PCF Coordinator on all BL-2 projects. A one paragraph summary for all BL-1 projects should be provided to the PCF Coordinator to keep on file. The researcher needs to inform the PCF Coordinator of any special needs or precautions to be taken regarding their project so that the Coordinator can keep the PCF Staff informed.

Definitions of BL-1 and BL-2:

Go to for a detailed description. This is information is provided from “A Practical Guide to Containment: Greenhouse Research with Transgenic Plants and Microbes” by Patricia L. Traynor, Dann Adair and Ruth Irwin, Information Systems for Biotechnology, Virginia Tech, 2001.

Environmental Control

  1. Greenhouse environmental control equipment (thermostats, vents, photoperiod shades, time clocks, environmental control system, etc.) shall be primarily operated by the PCF staff.
  2. Access to the environmental control system will be provided through the PCF Coordinator or the PCF staff. Changes in the environmental conditions in individual greenhouse spaces should be requested in writing using a Service Request Form. They are available outside of 1222 and 1312 PSL, or online. While any changes or malfunctions in the environmental control system should be reported in writing, the PCF Coordinator or other PCF staff members may be contacted directly to correct emergency situations. For after-hours or weekend problems with the environmental control system, a list of emergency contacts is posted throughout the PCF.
  3. The manual control options for the Environmental Control System are to be used for maintenance purposes by authorized personnel or in emergency situations only.


  1. Any problems with structure or non-dedicated equipment should be reported to the PCF staff.
  2. Maintenance of equipment dedicated to individual projects is the responsibility of the greenhouse user.

Alteration of Facilities

Approval must be obtained from the PCF Coordinator before any changes, deletions, or additions are made to the permanent facilities.

Trash Disposal

Plant material and used soil are to be collected and disposed of separately from other trash (paper, plastics, wood, metal, etc.). Separate receptacles labeled for PLANT MATERIAL ONLY or TRASH ONLY are available throughout the greenhouses.

Experimental Hazards

  1. The use of hazardous materials, organisms, or systems (e.g. radioactive materials, dangerous non-pesticide chemicals, UV lamps, bees, pollutants, etc.) in greenhouse experiments must be reported to the PCF Coordinator for approval. A minimum of two weeks notice is required prior to the use of any such materials or systems in the greenhouse.
  2. Rooms in which hazardous conditions are present are to be maintained locked. The rooms are to be labeled with appropriate warning signs. Emergency contacts and procedures must also be posted.
  3. All transgenic plant material must be rendered biologically inactive with steam sterilization before disposal.

Shoes and Clothing

Appropriate footwear is required for greenhouse staff, users, and visitors. No open-toed shoes should be worn when working at the PCF for health and safety reasons.

Disposal of Plant Material after Project Completion

It is the responsibility of the greenhouse user to coordinate disposal of the plant material in a timely manner after project completion. The greenhouse staff will normally be available to assist.