Greenhouses and Growth Chambers

Ithaca, NY
The greenhouse operations on and around the Cornell Campus are with 179,000 sq ft the largest non-commercial greenhouse facility in the state. The 170 compartments are primarily used as teaching and research facilities, housing 200 to 300 research projects at any given time. Plant services for all of these projects are provided by the dedicated greenhouse staff, which is responsible for the set-up, daily care and maintenance. The facilities also house a valuable agro-forestry collection of important tropical plants, including banana and ficus, and the exotic Corpse Flower.

The greenhouse team is committed to sustainable practices and is continually searching for and implementing new ways to reduce energy use, waste and carbon while adhering to the highest quality standards.

Research Highlights

  • Annual flower trials with mostly Dutch bulbs, research the effectiveness of different plant growth regulators on a variety of tulips, lilies, hyacinths, narcissus and other species. Some of the greenhouse grown bulbs will be transplanted to outdoor locations, such as Bluegrass Lane, to experiment with the use of bulbs in landscaping. 
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    Live greenhouse cam
  • The CALS Bioenergy Feedstock Project conducts research on the management and production of perennial grasses in the Northeast and explores their potential as a source of biofuel. The greenhouses are used to start plants for a breeding nursery and for seed production of warm season grasses.
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  • One of the greenhouses with a growing area of 1352 sq ft is dedicated to organic research. This greenhouse is certified by NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC and heated with natural gas.

Plant Growth Chambers

CUAES also manages 150 growth chambers, ranging in size from 6 to 108 sq ft. Growth chambers are designed to completely isolate the research from the surrounding environment, and provide complete control of the climate inside the chamber. The amount of light and temperature can be closely regulated, and some chambers offer humidity control and CO2 enrichment options. This level of flexibility and control makes growth chambers indispensable for many researchers.

Pathologists might use growth chambers for research on plants inoculated with different diseases, entomologists to study the effect of insect pests or their predators on plants, and plant breeders or horticulturists to induce flowering by controlling the exposure to light.

Weill Hall plant growth chamber