UW gets massive new greenhouse for its diverse plant collections

SEATTLE — Over the past 65 years, the University of Washington’s biology department has had one of the country’s most diverse plant collections.

KIRO 7 got a sneak peek of its new greenhouse before it opens to the public.

“We have about 6,000 different plants, specimens covering the diversity of life. One of our specialties is in ancient plants. The kinds of plants that were here when the dinosaurs roamed the earth,” said David Perkel, professor and chair of the UW Department of Biology.

One room is full of carnivorous plants, which attract insects and digest them for nutrients.

In 2016, the university’s botany greenhouse was demolished, and the plants were temporarily housed off campus, but this fall, they are in the new massive, 25,000-square-foot UW Biology Greenhouse.

It’s not only a place for plants to flourish, but one where students’ minds can be nurtured as well.

“We also have teaching and research opportunities for students, where their classes come in and they have their labs in the greenhouse, working with the plants, and they can set up their own independent study experiments,” said Katie Sadler, who manages the greenhouse.

“So, this is a state-of-the-art greenhouse, with 17 controls and more sensors in every room to allow automated climate control of light, temperature, humidity,” said Perkel.

The facility will open to the public in December on a walk-in basis on Thursday afternoons.