Keeping the city beautiful

single-meta-cal June 18, 2018

From flowers to vegetables, the City of Huntsville’s Landscape Management and Operation Green Team use the City greenhouse to keep the city horticulture thriving year-round.

How the Huntsville greenhouse grows

Kept at a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the greenhouse provides an ideal environment for plant growth. In late January, Landscape Management begins to cultivate the plants that will be on display during the summer. To kickstart cultivation, Landscape Management buys the plants in plugs.

These plugs are watered, fertilized and prepped for transplantation. It is important for these plugs to form individual root systems, so initially, the plugs are in separate cell packs to facilitate root growth. After the roots grow to a suitable size, the plant is ready for transplantation.

Landscape Management transplants the plants into hanging baskets, containers, or large growing trays. Typically a three-week process, transplanting occurs inside the greenhouse in February.

After the last freeze occurs, normally the third week in April, the hanging flowers, flower beds, and other gorgeous plants seen throughout Huntsville are ready for distribution. Landscape Management allocates the plants to downtown streets, recreation centers, the Fire and Police departments, and any other municipal building visible to the public.

Similarly to (albeit on a slightly smaller scale) Disney World or Dollywood, the plants are constantly swapped out with fresh replacements to ensure the highest standard of plants is on display.

“The greenhouse provides us a way to ensure quality,” said Brian Walker, Manager of Landscape Management. “It also allows us to grow the number of plants we need while saving on costs.”


Operation Green Team plant giveaways

Operation Green Team also benefits from the greenhouse, and the plants that Green Team gives away are often grown locally.

Six weeks prior to the April vegetable plant giveaway, the seeds are planted in the greenhouse and nurtured until and they are a suitable size for planting in the ground. During the vegetable plant giveaway, Operation Green Team gives away tomato and cucumber plants, along with trash bags for neighborhood cleanups.

Additionally, Operation Green Team has an annual native plant giveaway as well as many other plant giveaways throughout the year.

To stay updated on the latest plant giveaway events, be sure to ‘like’ the Operation Green Team Facebook page, to stay up-to-date on the latest giveaway event.

Future growth

Bringing in plant material instead of fully-grown plants is efficient and economical for the city. The greenhouse gives Landscape Management more control over the selection and quality of plants that go out, and gives Operation Green Team a place to continue to grow its commitment to environmental excellence.

“We are so blessed to have a greenhouse that helps us promote beautification and economic development,” says Joy Mckee, Director of Landscape Management. “A clean, beautiful city attracts a higher quality of life, retains its workforce and recruits the types of people, events and culture to keep it thriving for decades to come.”