Urban Greenhouse


The City of Wilmington's Urban Greenhouse has been a fixture of the Wilmington Parks & Recreation Department since 2005. Parks, Landscape, and Forestry employees are responsible for growing thousands of plants for the department each year. These plants, which include annuals, perennials, and vegetables, are used for floral displays within parks, trails, and rights-of-way, among other areas.  

What is an urban greenhouse?

A greenhouse, specifically designed for urban growing, is referred to as an 'Urban Greenhouse.' This type of greenhouse is typically associated with more creative ways in which to grow plants and vegetables due to their very specific organizational layout. 

Attractive flowers and landscapes are necessary for urban beauty. Why? They have the power to soften and improve public spaces. In fact, recent studies have indicated that the presence of flowers can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, while improving overall emotional well-being.

Horticulturists' Responsibilities

The City of Wilmington's horticulturists design, plant, and maintain more than 100 flower beds, containers, and community gardens across the city. These gleaming spots of nature bring happiness to locals and tourists who wish to better connect with nature. This process requires thousands of plants, the majority of which are grown within the greenhouse located at 1702 Burnett Blvd.

Throughout a typical year, city horticulturalists grow approximately 11,000 plants, with nearly 10,000 of them being pollinator-friendly varieties and 2,000 being North Carolina/North American native varieties. Staff also grow approximately 150 vegetable-producing plants for community and recreational gardens within the city. 

City Greenhouse Statistics

The City of Wilmington's urban greenhouse produces just shy of 34,900 plants in any given year. Produced at a cost of approximately $8,000, each plant holds an associated cost of just $0.75.

How are the types of plants/vegetables selected for each area? What are the criteria? 

  • On-staff horticulturalists assess all prospective areas to determine what needs to be placed within. This area-selection process may be dependent on a few factors: (1) Is irrigation is present?; (2) What is the shade-to-sun ratio?; (3) What is the soil condition?; (4) How visible is the area in question?; (5) Has public feedback been provided?; and finally, (6) What are the code requirements for that specific area? Choosing plants is then based on their drought, sun/shade, wind, and salt tolerance.

What types of Perennials are planted each year? 

  • Black-eyed Susans, Coneflowers, Blanket Flowers, Tickseed, Asters, and Butterfly Weed

What types of Annuals are planted each year? 

  • Colorful Annual flowers include Zinnias, Vinca, Pentas, Marigolds, and Petunias

Does the Greenhouse provide materials for city programs and events (i.e.: Partner with Maides Park's Seed Library) If so, how? In what capacity?

  • We do supply materials and staff/knowledge for select recreation programs. These may include youth and senior gardening programs - as well as community garden plots. 

How long has the greenhouse been in use? When was it established?

  • Greenhouses have been utilized by the City for over 30 years. The current greenhouse was built in 2005. It has been used since that time and has been modified to increase growing space and improve heating and cooling - as well as watering abilities (programmed irrigation systems). A smaller greenhouse (1/3 of current size), made of all glass was used for about a decade prior (1995 - 2005). One of the first greenhouses the city used was the current break room at the Parks Annex.

Are citizens allowed to tour the greenhouse? If so, what is the process?

  • No. Currently, we do not offer tours of the greenhouse. That would allow the public to see the process, understand the time and effort required to operate, and increase visibility/awareness. This is on our radar! To volunteer in other areas, please contact Cynthia Holden.

Community Gardens

The City of Wilmington receives numerous requests from citizens and groups to plant community gardens. The city recognizes community gardens and community garden policies have become a common municipal service and that community gardening provides various health and wellness benefits. 

Community Gardens: Policies & Application

This policy(PDF, 298KB) is intended to govern community gardens operated by a non-profit agency or a neighborhood association for cultivating vegetables, fruits and ornamentals on city-owned property. The crops shall not be intended for commercial purposes.

Interested entities will be required to submit a community garden application(PDF, 656KB)  form to the City of Wilmington’s Parks and Recreation Division. Eligible entities will then be required to develop and operate the gardens according to a user agreement which will specify terms of use, management responsibilities and access procedures.