Princess of Wales Conservatory
Growing plants under glass presents many challenges. Each species has particular requirements for humidity and temperature, food and light levels. They have come from complex ecosystems – some depend on fungi in the soil to access nutrients, others on insects for pollination or birds to disperse their seeds. The glasshouses of Kew provide carefully managed growing spaces for plants that have developed in their natural environments for millions of years.
In this, the most complex conservatory at Kew, there are ten computer-controlled climatic zones under one roof including:
Dry tropics – the main zone at the southern end of the Princess of Wales Conservatory, it represents the world’s warm, arid regions where you will find species of agave, aloe and cacti.
Wet tropics – the main zone in the northern end, it represents ecosystems such as rainforests and mangrove swamps.
Carnivorous plants – two zones devoted to carnivorous plants including pitcher plants, Nepenthes, and Venus flytraps, Dionaea muscipula.
Ferns – a tropical and a temperate zone to reflect the needs of ferns from these two different regions.
Orchids – a hot steamy zone featuring tropical epiphytic or air-rooting varieties with showy flowers and specific adaptations to an aerial environment in the rainforest canopy. And a cooler zone for orchid species with their roots in the earth of tropical mountain regions.