General Greenhouse Facility Guidelines & Information

Contacting Greenhouse Staff
Please direct all emails regarding facilities, facilities equipment or supplies at facilities to both the greenhouse manager Shane Merrell and the assistant, Mick Vann. Both are reachable by cell phone 24/7. Contact numbers are located on the contact page and at each of the facilities.

New rules and guidelines for the SBS Plant Facilities (In effect from 7/26/2013)

  1. Watering plants in the growth chambers is no longer allowed because the drains in the growth chambers do not work properly. You must bring your plants out of the growth chamber, water them, drain any unused water from the trays, and replace the plants in the growth chamber.
  2. A double tray system is now required for growing research in the growth chambers. The 2 ½ inch and 3 ½ inch pots have trays that are specifically designed to be used with them that fit into the standard 1020 trays that have no holes. If you do not know what I am talking about please come see me next time you are at the greenhouse.
  3. All plants in the facility MUST be labeled with the P.I.’s name, the researcher’s, name, and the date. If plants are in a tray, the label must be on two adjoining sides of the tray, so that it can be quickly spotted; do NOT label individual pots within a tray.  Individual pots must each have a label indicating P.I.’s name, researcher’s name, and date, unless it is very obvious that the plants are all part of a block of plants; in that case a large sign with the P.I.’s name, researcher’s name, and date must be present. Any transgenic plants, whether they are in a tray, or in individual pots, MUST be labeled “Transgenic”.  Do not use lab or researcher’s codes that greenhouse staff are not privy to, or cannot understand.
  4. No sitting water is allowed to remain in trays after you are done watering, be sure to discard any remaining water from your trays before placing them back into the growth chambers.
  5. Plants are not allowed to dry in the greenhouse nor in the growth chambers. The only place plants are allowed to dry in the greenhouse is on the plant drying shelf in the hallway to the right of the greenhouse entrance. As soon as the plants are dry and the seeds are collected, the plants must be removed from the shelf.
  6. All Arabidopsis researchers must use Gnatrol when you water your Arabidopsis to make sure the Fungus Gnats do not become a problem.
  7. You will be notified by email of any rules infractions, after which you will have 48 hours to remedy the problem or we will discard your plants. Unlabeled plants will be discarded with NO notice; if we do not know who the plants belong to, we obviously cannot contact you.

Bringing Plant Material Into the Greenhouse

  1. Send an email to both Shane and Mick regarding the quantity of the material, what the plants are (genus and species), whose lab they belong to and the account number to be charged, any instructions related to the plant, person’s name, contact number, and date.
  2. A time will be assigned to meet Shane or Mick at the greenhouse for inspection of the plant material, after which the plants can be installed.

If you need to know where supplies are located or have a question about these procedures, please contact Shane Merrell or Mick Vann.

Greenhouse Space Allocations
Use of greenhouse space is limited by assignment. To request use of greenhouse space, submit a written request on the greenhouse request page. The request must include all required information contained within that form. Staff must be notified if growing any transgenic plants. Please request space as soon as possible, especially when requesting the growth chambers; much of the space is reserved far in advance, and the priority is first-come, first served. After approval, a valid account number for the monthly charges is required, and billing for space rental is calculated monthly. You are responsible for notifying the greenhouse manager upon completion of your project, so that the bench fee charges will terminate.  Fees will be charged until your allotted space is vacant, and you have cleaned and sanitized the space.

Greenhouse Bench Space:
Currently we offer greenhouse bench space for experiments by approved students and faculty at a rental cost of $1.70 per square foot monthly, and growth chamber space for $2.40 per square foot monthly (both fees subject to increase), when available.

The bench fee entitles the user to use of the standard potting and growing materials (see detailed list below), application of fertilizers, amendments, pesticides and fungicides, and watering upon request. Bench fees do not include the washing and sanitizing by greenhouse staff of the pots, trays, liners, domes, or stakes used in your research. Researchers are responsible for cleaning any materials needed for research projects. Staff can order any available horticultural supplies (potting supplies, soils, fertilizers, trace elements, growth stimulators or retardants, etc.) needed by anyone that is actively involved in a research project, assuming they have funding for the special order. Special orders are purchased from wholesale suppliers, and paid for by the researcher’s funding account. Some of these special order materials are only available in case lots; we will split cases from suppliers whenever possible. Special orders are the property of the researcher and staff is not responsible for storage or security. We can possibly provide requested plants or custom-grown seedlings needed for labs on a limited basis, if they are available, and with ample advance notice; costs will be charged to that lab’s account.

Please check greenhouse/growth chamber availability by completing the request bench space/action form.

First-time Users of the Greenhouse Facility
All first-time users of the greenhouse facility are required to schedule an orientation session with the greenhouse manager. This session will introduce the user to the resources and policies of the greenhouse facility, proper planting procedures, good housekeeping rules and procedures, disease and pest avoidance, and safety policies. Please pay attention to all posted signs. You will be required to obtain a key prior to usage.

Greenhouse Welch Orientation Tour
For details please refer to the downloadable pdf »

Security
Access to the greenhouse facility is limited to authorized faculty, staff, and students. All key requests for greenhouse facilities must be obtained from Greenhouse Manager Shane Merrell. Visitors must be accompanied by a faculty member, staff member, or student while in the greenhouse area. Small children must be under the direct supervision of an adult at all times; frankly, they are discouraged from entering, unless it is with an official school tour. The entry door to the headhouse must be locked when not in use.

Use of Facilities and Sanitation
All users of the greenhouse facility are expected to observe good housekeeping rules by cleaning up any spilled soil in the headhouse, spills en route to or inside the greenhouses, on the counters, or on the carts. A floor broom, bench broom, and dustpan, are provided in the headhouse. You are expected to keep your plants free of dead leaves and debris (which harbors disease and pests) and weeds (which can seed-out into other’s experiments). Plants should be cared for in a manner that they are not stressed and attract disease and pests. Sound sanitation practices are necessary in order to reduce disease, insect, and weed problems. Keep in mind that in Welch, each side of the greenhouse facility has a common air source, so pathogens can migrate. Do not contaminate the sterilized bins of media when working in the headhouse. Any possible compromise of the sterile media must be performed away from the soil bins. Never return soil to the soil bags or media bins, even if it is clean and unused; ask the greenhouse staff about recycling clean or slightly used soil.
Hose nozzles must be kept off of the ground to prevent the spread of pathogens. Hoses must be kept untangled and stretched out along the aisles so they do not kink, and kept out of the aisles to avoid a tripping hazard. Do not loop the end of the hose over the hose bib, causing a weak spot in the hose. All water spigots must be turned off when not in use. All razor blades and broken glass must be placed in a sharps container located in the headhouse. The greenhouse facilities are only for research plants or the standing collection; they are not a place to house hobby specimens or overwinter personal plants or collections. Do not leave projects, equipment, supplies, or samples in the headhouse without prior permission from the greenhouse personnel.

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Materials
Any materials removed from Welch must be entered on the "Supplies Taken" check-out sheet located next to the chalkboard. Do not store field soil, personal pots, or other supplies inside greenhouses. Any field soil must be kept stored in tightly sealed containers, preferably out of the way in the bathroom hallway, or the elevator foyer. Contact greenhouse personnel if temporary storage space is needed for project materials and supplies. Notify the greenhouse personnel as soon as possible in advance if needing extraordinary amounts of soil, pots, or other materials. Delivery of these materials may take up to 2 weeks. Make sure that you have adequate pots, trays, liners, domes, and stakes required for your experiment by counting and verifying the needed amount two weeks in advance. Once verified you are allowed to tape-off or otherwise mark your supplies with masking tape, showing a starting date and your name. You are expected to utilize used pots before using new pots; new pots, trays, liners, domes, and stakes should be utilized only as a last resort.

Seed Harvesting
At the Welch Facility, please do not use the potting bench area to harvest your seeds. Use the area designated “Harvesting”, located between Growth Chambers #4 and #5. Seed contamination can be detrimental to other’s experiments. Make sure plants are dried only in the designated drying area. All plants in drying area must be labeled with user’s name, date, and contact information. All transgenic plants must be labeled.

Pests and Insect Control
Welch and BOT greenhouses are sprayed every Thursday at @ 2:00 pm. No one is allowed entrance to the entire 6th floor of Welch after 2 pm on Thursday. Re-entry time is at 7 am Fri unless previously noted. Arrangements should be made prior to that time for plant care. If there is a change in the re-entry time for Friday morning, there will be a posting of that info on Tuesday. Other facilities are sprayed on an “as needed” basis. Report all pest and disease problems, including room number and bench location, to the greenhouse personnel so that it can be addressed and spread can be contained. ALL plants coming into any facility must first be inspected for pests and pathogens BEFORE they are allowed into the facility. Plants coming from another source, which are infested with pests may be removed and quarantined at the discretion of greenhouse personnel. We have over-the-counter insecticide and fungicide sprays that can be used as needed by the user, with the greenhouse manager’s permission.

Make sure that if you are aware that your plants are sensitive to a particular pesticide, fungicide, or fertilizer, you relay that information to the greenhouse manager. If use of a particular pesticide, fungicide, or fertilizer will negatively affect your plants or the results of your experiment, it is your responsibility to inform the greenhouse manager.

Disposal of Plant Material
It is the responsibility of the greenhouse user to coordinate the disposal of their plant material in a timely manner after project completion. Potting media is to be placed into the use potting media bins. Plant material and labels are to be thrown away in the trash cans. Trays and pots are to be placed on the used pot shelves. Large amounts of plant waste can be placed in plastic bags and put in the trash cans. If you can lift the bag, we can lift the bag; do NOT overfill trash cans with heavy material. Greenhouse users who generate plant and soil waste from transgenic plants or invasive species are to follow transgenic protocol, bagging their waste materials in plastic autoclave bags, which must be transported by the user and autoclaved back at their own labs. Any pots or flats that have been exposed to herbicides, please label with tape, "Herbicide Pots" and place in a separate holding area.

Environmental Control
Growth Chamber or greenhouse controls, including thermostats, fans, vents, timers, are operated by the greenhouse personnel. Once you have permission to use the chamber or greenhouse, it will be set to your parameters. Greenhouses at Welch have limited capabilities for changing environmental conditions. Immediately report any malfunctions of the environmental controls first to the greenhouse personnel, or if unavailable, to Facilities Service (“Zone”) at 512-471-7728 during regular business hours, or to 512-471-2020 after normal business hours.

Vacations and Breaks
Greenhouse Staff can possibly care for your plants during your vacations and breaks. Please request care for your plants at least 2 weeks in advance with a written notice by email to the greenhouse manager, shane@austin.utexas.edu and assistant, mick@austin.utexas.edu and also on the Greenhouse request Form. Make sure that you receive a confirmation reply before leaving. Please include: date leaving, date returning, and any pertinent information regarding the care of your plants. In case of any emergencies, please be sure to provide us with referral contact #’s for someone who is familiar with your research project if you are not able to be reached. We will continue watering until you have contacted us upon your return.

Other Considerations
Please wear appropriate footwear when entering the greenhouse. Shoes that are smooth-soled or treadless may not be the best choice; greenhouse floors can be slippery when wet. If any chemicals are utilized during a project, they must be approved by the greenhouse manager before your project begins. Please remember to turn off the headhouse bench lights upon leaving. Greenhouse personnel are available for advice on experimental setup and maintenance, including container selection, soil selection, proper planting, transplanting, pruning, and staking. Please remember that the greenhouse staff members have other facilities on and off campus to check on, as well as running errands for the greenhouse. They are reachable by cell phone 24/7 if you need them immediately. Please visit the contact page for more information regarding their schedules.

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Growing Supplies
Below is a list of the standard potting and growing media used in our facilities. If you need a specialized product not on this list, greenhouse staff can often special order it for you at wholesale price, assuming you have a valid account number to fund the purchase. You are expected to mark any specialized materials as your own and store them away from the standard materials; greenhouse staff cannot be held liable for the security of your materials. At the end of your experiment you are responsible for removal of your unused materials.

This is what potting media is standard at our facility:

* Soil and Amendments
Sunshine MVP (was called Metro Mix 200)
Metro Mix       902
ProMix PGX
ProMix BX
Perlite
QuikCrete All-Purpose Sand
Turface MVP
Profile Field and Fairway
Profile Greens Grade

* Pots
Kord square green pots (2.5”)
SVT square black pots (3.5” and 4.5”)
Assorted round green pots (6”)
Assorted round black pots 1-gallon to 10-gallon

* Trays and Inserts
36 cell inserts
96 cell inserts
1020 trays, with holes
1020 trays, no holes
Short white liner trays, no holes (limited quantity only)
Clear plastic domes, short and tall

* Fertilizers
Peters 20-20-20 General Purpose
Peters 10-30-20  Blossom Booster
Osmocote 14-14-14 Controlled Release
MicroMax Micronutrients Granular Slow Release
Dyna-Grow 7-9-5 General Purpose
Green Light Organic RooTing Hormone Powder

Dirty Pots, Trays, Domes, Liners, and Stakes
Certain thin-walled pots and inserts are considered “disposable” and can be discarded and recycled; check with the greenhouse manager to verify if your pots fit into this category. It is the user’s responsibility to clean and sanitize their dirty pots, trays, liners, domes, and stakes using the posted procedure. Do not allow your dirty potting materials to accumulate.  All pots, trays, liners, and domes are considered communal property and are subject to use by any approved user; they may not be hidden or hoarded for later use. Materials organized for an approaching project may be marked and reserved for a maximum of two weeks prior to start of that project.

Pot Washing Procedure
Dirty potting materials can be temporarily stored in RM 6.320, but the goal is to wash them ASAP and NOT allow dirty pots to accumulate. The primary washing location is in the SE corner of RM 6.320, and clean and sanitized potting materials should be dried on the adjacent shelf. Once cleaned, sanitized, and dry, the clean pots are stocked first on the shelves over the potting bench, with the shelving between Chamber 5 and the hallway door serving as the overflow area.

Pot Sorting Procedure “The Three D’s” - Room 6.320

  1. Discard plant material in trash can.
  2. Dump soil in used soil containers (soil to be harvested by SURGe)
  3. Determine type of pot (see posted photo illustrations):
    -- Stack recyclable pots on shelves between Chamber 5 and greenhouse hall door (to be harvested by SURGe).
    -- Reusable pots should be washed immediately, following the posted procedure.

To Clean Pots:

  1. Remove as much dirt, sand, and debris from the pots as possible.
  2. Scrub the pots in soapy water.
  3. Soak the pots in a 1:10 solution of bleach to water for 20 minutes.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Dry

Checking-Out Plants for Lab Use
The Standing Collection at the BOT Greenhouse exists to provide plants for study by researchers, instructors, and students in any labs affiliated with the School of Biological Sciences. These plants can be checked out for use in the labs, and samples and cuttings may be taken for closer examination or for DNA extraction.

We ask that if you remove a plant or plants, please fill-out the on-line request form, indicating what you want to borrow and when you plan on returning it. Ideally, if a series of plants is needed, the Horticulturist will have been provided a list via email, including the dates that the plants are needed. It is also critical if greenhouse staff know in advance of any plants that need to be ordered so that they can be purchased and shipped with enough lead-time; give us a window of two weeks lead time if possible to cover the ordering and shipping process. If seeds are required for a lab, request them with the online form, and indicate if the seeds can be treated, or if they must be untreated. If seeds are to be grown for a lab, please allow ample time for germination, as some seeds are notoriously slow in germinating. There is an option on the Greenhouse request form to request the ordering of specific plants. Special ordered plants are billed to the requestor’s account.

If you check-out plants from the greenhouse for a lab, please try to keep them watered and under ample light so that they are returned in good condition. Make sure that the plant’s label returns with the plant. When you are through using borrowed plants, please return them promptly, so that they can recover from what can be less than ideal growing conditions.

We appreciate your cooperation in following the greenhouse facilities guidelines:

  1. Permission is required prior to any plants being brought to the growing facilities.
  2. Please have plants inspected for insects and pathogens by Shane or Mick before bringing them into any of the facilities.
  3. Please have signage with any student project, letting us know who it belongs to, who is caring for it, with contact numbers, name of affiliated professor, the broad scope of the research, etc.
  4. Please notify us before removal of any plant in the standing collection for a lab, and properly maintain that plant while it is in your possession.
  5. Please coordinate with greenhouse staff regarding watering of plants in your absence, i.e. what, when, duration, etc.

Ultimately, your plants and research are your responsibility. If you have research up in Welch Greenhouse, you should be checking on its status frequently, and let Shane or Mick know immediately if you any concerns whatsoever. There are many people from all over Campus with access to the greenhouse facility, and the greenhouse staff cannot be held responsible for any vandalism or loss.

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