Nursery/Greenhouse Worker

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Nursery/Greenhouse Worker


Gardeners and those who like to work with plants are often referred to as having a "green thumb". This is actually a compliment, which means they are good with plants. One type of job these individuals might enjoy is that of a greenhouse worker. Individuals who work as nursery or greenhouse workers plant, cultivate and harvest flowers, plants, trees and shrubs and serve nursery and greenhouse customers.

Their days will be spent indoors and/or outdoors depending on the season and the type of nursery they are employed in. Greenhouse and nursery workers not only have the knowledge to take care of and explain plants to customers, they also work with grafting plants and transplanting seedlings and cuttings. They are also knowledgeable about soil and pesticides. Greenhouse workers may also be responsible for regulating the greenhouse conditions and outdoor irrigation systems and preparing shrubs, flowers and plants for sale. As part of their duties they will also stock shelves, serve customers and provide information and advice to the public regarding their plant purchases.

Greenhouse workers spend a lot of their time, working alone with the plants. To be the most effective at what they do, they must stay up-to-date on the latest in soil management and pesticide techniques both natural and chemical.
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  Interests and Skills  
Greenhouse or nursery workers must have a good knowledge of plants, be skilled in plant identification and able to effectively care for the plants. They should like working outdoors and be physically fit. They need communication skills in order to interact with customers as well as a knowledge of computerized systems for conducting inventory or sales. Good communication skills, basic analytical skills, a good memory and some background in science and mathematics are assets. Finally, they should be dependable, able to take direction and able to work independently or as part of a team.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Prepare soil; plant bulbs, seeds and cuttings; graft and bud plants; and transplant seedlings and rooted cuttings
  • Spray trees, shrubs, flowers and plants to prevent disease and pests
  • Set-up and regulate greenhouse and outdoor irrigation systems to water plants and fields
  • Dig, cut and transplant trees, shrubs, flowers and plants and prepare them for sale
  • Provide information to customers on gardening and the care of trees, shrubs, flowers, plants and lawns
  • Use computers to maintain and order stock
  • May operate tractors and other machinery and equipment to fertilize, cultivate, harvest and spray fields and plants.
  • Greenhouse workers split their time between greenhouses and the outdoors. When working in greenhouses they are in environments with temperature, ventilation, humidity, light and water all controlled to keep an optimum greenhouse. They will perform many manual duties that include lifting; stooping, kneeling or standing for long periods of time. During the day they may also interact with customers or work with the nursery database updating stock. The hours of work may exceed 40 hours a week, and weekend shifts may be required. Those who are self-employed in landscaping have the freedom to set their own hours.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Greenhouse workers are employed in container and field grown nurseries, greenhouses, landscaping departments of institutions and private landscaping establishments.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There is room for advancement to such supervisory positions as greenhouse supervisor or landscaping/grounds maintenance manager with experience and training. Some greenhouse workers may decide to pursue careers in related industries such as landscaping or silviculture.

  Educational Paths  
There is no set path for those wishing to work as greenhouse workers. Completion of secondary school is recommended. It is also a good idea for individuals interested in this field to take some college courses in horticulture or a related field. Some employers may require this as a pre-requisite to employment although some employers will provide on-the-job training with no college prerequisites. Depending on where they are employed greenhouse workers may also require a license to apply chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides and pesticides.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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