Horticulture Collections Manager

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Published: January 23, 2024
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Skill Level
Mid Level
Job Type
Other / Program Management / Scientific

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Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a Pittsburgh gem — a thriving oasis with many unique environments to explore. 

Established in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a green leader among public gardens with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate our historic glasshouse.


The Horticulture Collections Manager will contribute to exceptional horticulture at all times while demonstrating effective leadership and management skills and the ability to see the big picture, as part of the management team for Phipps.  This position is responsible for the management, conservation and expansion of special and secondary collections within the Conservatory, including orchids and miniature orchids, bonsai, cacti, palms, ferns and cycads, in a professional manner consistent with current conservatory best practices.  Advises on plant acquisitions and care of plant collections, based on knowledge of and passion for horticulture and their potential use in a conservatory.  Coordinates acquisition of collection plants.  Represents and speaks about the collections/plants at Phipps to the general public, other botanic gardens and beyond.  The Horticulture Collections Manager is responsible for all the day to day details of Phipps Collections Rooms and for effectively managing the related staff

Work is performed under the supervision of the director of horticulture, working within sustainability guidelines.


  1. Smile and maintain a positive attitude. Strive to create a Magical Guest Experience.
  2. As part of management, represent and support management at Phipps to your staff and other staff at Phipps.
  3. Effectively supervise staff, interns and volunteers in the overall maintenance of the collection rooms (Palm Court, Fern Room, Desert Room, Stove Room, Fruit & Spice, Tropical Forest, and Orchid Room) in a friendly and fair manner. Dividing responsibilities and prioritizing tasks is essential so that all projects are accomplished in a timely manner.   Maintain schedule of work to avoid any conflicts.
  4. Collaborate with the indoor display manager on show installation, help facilitate coverage for other rooms within the conservatory, and collaborate with other Horticulture managers if needed.  
  5. Help with show installation by doing hands on work with their team. 
  6. Work with associate director of exhibits and display horticulturist for Tropical Forest and team to research geography, plants, culture and ecological conditions and concerns in various tropical regions around the world for upcoming and on-going tropical forest displays.  Work on design team for upcoming tropical forest exhibits.
  7. Communicate with manager as issues arise with staff and/or visitors and handle all issues promptly and courteously.
  8. Contribute to and foster a sense of teamwork in the horticulture department and with all other departments.
  9. Review staff performance on an ongoing basis, addressing any issues immediately, coaching staff to help them develop and grow, and preform annual reviews.
  10. Work with collection display staff and IPM specialist to provide needs of plants and assure plants will grow well and thrive in the location we have for them, allowing them to exhibit the features we are growing them for, with minimal pest problems.
  11. Use best practices for planting, pruning, fertilizing, deadheading, cleanup, plant maintenance and soil management in daily routines, and teach these practices to staff and general public.
  12. Ability to diagnose problems that are physiologically based and/or stress related; anticipate what will occur under specific conditions (i.e. soil conditions, climate); identify stresses and proactively implement solutions. Working with IPM specialist, monitor, diagnose and treat insect, disease, physiological and cultural conditions.
  13. Maintain tools and systems with appropriate care.
  14. Understand, observe and if necessary maintain water and display features.
  15. With Collection Display Staff and Display Staff, install seasonal flower shows.
  16. Incorporate seasonal change out for spring, summer, fall, winter, and orchid shows in Palm Court
  17. Assist horticulture staff in special projects.
  18. Maintain and upgrade all aspects of the Conservatory’s collections program with a focus on our signature plant collections (with a special emphasis on slipper orchids, miniature orchids, and orchids that bloom during our Orchid Show) to achieve the professional standards necessary to receive and retain local and national recognition. 
  19. Maintain good relations with all affiliated interests (garden clubs, societies, etc.).  Participate in meetings of bonsai and orchid societies.
  20. Acquire plants for permanent collections, following Phipps policies and practices and work within budget.
  21.  Work with director of horticulture to adhere to and update collections policies for Phipps, updating when needed.
  22. Lead the development of our secondary plant collections including desert plants, fruits and spices, ferns, palms and cycads, and other collections that may be determined.
  23. Actively work to develop an exchange program of plants with other gardens.
  24. May travel to tag and purchase plants for exhibits and collections in special situations.
  25. Oversee plant recordkeeping using IRIS and appropriate labeling systems.
  26. Oversee technical research of plant records and perform plant information research for descriptive and interpretive purposes.
  27. Lead tours, give talks, write articles and respond to general garden inquiries from public and press, as required. Actively represent Phipps on a local and national level at horticultural-related organizations and on all plant-related topics. 
  28. Seek out opportunities to become involved with local colleges and the community for speaking and teaching engagements when appropriate.
  29. 29. Seek out opportunities, working with marketing, to provide information for articles for newsletters, local publications and national magazines.
  30. 30. Perform other duties as requested.


  1. Masters degree in botany, plant science, horticulture, or related filed.
  2. Minimum of two years conservatory experience with tropical and temperate plants.
  3. In-depth knowledge, appreciation, and passion for tropical plants.
  4. Knowledgeable of the classification, biology and cultivation of plants plus demonstrated expertise in general horticulture.
  5. Demonstrate strong communication skills, both in writing and in public speaking.
  6. Active in local and national horticultural organizations.
  7. Design experience a plus.
  8. Ability to implement all principle duties and responsibilities.
  9. Must have strong organizational and management skills.
  10. Ability to communicate well with all levels of people in a friendly manner.
  11. Able to work alone as well as in a team environment.


  1. Physical mobility: sitting, standing, walking, lifting/carrying objects up to 80 pounds; manual dexterity to operate keyboard.
  2. Mental effort: reading, writing, analyzing, and visualizing.
  3. Sensory requirement: Ability to communicate and respond to staff in a friendly and fair manner.
  4. Strong work ethic in all areas of job performance
  5. Ability to communicate and respond both in person and over the phone to the general public, staff, volunteers and board members in a friendly manner.
  6. Able to work under deadlines and stress.


  1. Ability to provide own transportation to perform principle responsibilities.
  2. May require evening and weekend work.
  3. Will have occasion to work in or pass through any area of the conservatory or growing houses.
  4. Some travel involved.

MINIMUM POSITION GUIDELINES: (Education, Experience and Certification)

  1. Four year degree in appropriate field
  2. Five years work experience in a botanical garden.
  3. Two years supervisory experience.
  4. Ability to acquire a Pennsylvania pesticide applicator license within six months of hire. 

Note: Revisions, additions or deletions to this job description may be made at any point.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an equal opportunity employer that is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse staff. We strive to create a working environment that is inclusive, equitable and welcoming as we honor employee experiences, perspectives, and unique identities. 

When you apply for this position, please say you saw this job on Green Dream Jobs!!

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