The Temperate House Restoration Project

Propagating Important Plant Collections for the Restoration of the World's Largest Victorian Glasshouse


  • Rebecca Hilgenhof Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
  • Scott Taylor Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Andrew Luke Wrest Park



There is a long tradition at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG, Kew) of cultivating and displaying exotic plants from all over the globe, and the largest Victorian glasshouse, the Temperate House, traditionally  showcases plants from temperate regions. The Temperate House Restoration Project was undertaken at RBG, Kew from 2012 to 2018. Over 1,000 species of plants were removed, propagated and replanted for this project, and this article describes the propagation of some of the most difficult to reproduce plant material. Four plant groups or species are presented: Erica verticillata P.J.Bergius, Quercus insignis M.Martens Galeotti, Pinus roxburghii Sargent and Banksia spp. L. This is in order to illustrate the variety of options available for propagating challenging species with attention to their ecology, biology and growing requirements.

Also provided are background information, reasons why these plants are considered difficult to multiply in cultivation, how plant material was sourced and the methods employed which led to successful propagation of the material at RBG, Kew. Propagation of the plants was heavily reliant on the horticultural expertise of those involved, and this expertise ensured that most of the original plant material was rejuvenated and new collections with scientific significance were added to the restored Temperate House.

Author Biographies

Rebecca Hilgenhof, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity of Plants

Scott Taylor, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Nursery Supervisor

Andrew Luke, Wrest Park

Head Gardener


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How to Cite

Hilgenhof, R., Taylor, S., & Luke, A. (2019). The Temperate House Restoration Project: Propagating Important Plant Collections for the Restoration of the World’s Largest Victorian Glasshouse. Sibbaldia: The International Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture, (17), 121–140.