Job Detail

Plant Propagator

Location: Jamaica Plain, MA

Job Summary

Since 1873, Arnold Arboretum plant propagators have been instrumental in providing direction and leadership on woody plant propagation to other gardens and arboreta, the nursery industry, and the public. This rich history was carved out by the Arboretum’s inaugural plant propagator, Jackson Dawson, and the other successive propagators, who have pioneered aspects of seed and clonal propagation over the last 150 years.

Position Description

  1. Propagation: Responsible for the planning and propagation execution of plants destined for the Arnold Arboretum's living collections.
  • Conducts programmatic research on the most effective propagation methods of a diversity of woody plants. Manages the systematic repropagation of significant Arnold Arboretum lineages through manipulating the dynamic desiderata list, utilizing BG-BASE records, and field-checking the status of desired individuals and their clones. (10%)
  • Propagates plants for the Arboretum and/or distribution to collaborators and members. This is not limited to the act of propagation but carries through the growing of plant material until it is actively established in the nursery system or ready for distribution. (20%)
  • Creates and evaluates innovative propagation protocols. Accomplishes self-initiated and directed experiments. Timely publication and presentation of results in professional journals and at society conferences, respectively. Collaborates with nursery professionals, affiliated researchers, and personnel at other botanical institutions. (15%)
  • Actively participates in the Arboretum's introduction program, Arnold Selects. Assists with plant selection, propagation trials, distribution to partners, publications, and cultivar registration. (5%)
  1. Management: Shares responsibility for staff oversight, record keeping, and greenhouse and nursery maintenance. Plays a leadership role in the department.
  • Supervises staff, term employees, and interns. Is responsible for the efficient completion of tasks and projects as assigned by the Head of Plant Production and for the communication of issues concerning the above in a timely manner. (15%)
  • Shares responsibility for maintaining up-to-date propagation, greenhouse, and nursery records in BG-BASE or other database deemed appropriate. Takes part in regularly inventorying plants in the aforementioned areas. (10%)
  • Shares accountability for maintenance and operations of the greenhouse and nurseries. This includes, but is not limited to, accessioning, labeling, inventorying, watering, transplanting, and other associated duties required for maintaining healthy propagules growing within the facilities. (15%)
  1. Education: Furthers the engagement and educational mission of the Arboretum through teaching and lecturing in Arboretum-sponsored classes and events for the public and interns. Authors articles in Arboretum print and online publications. (10%)

Please note: The normal work schedule is Sunday through Thursday. The Plant Production Department is a 7-day-a-week operation, and occasional holidays and additional weekend hours are required. In the absence of the Head of Plant Production, this position provides emergency coverage. This position is 100% onsite in Jamaica Plain, MA.

Please submit a cover letter in your application. 


Basic Qualifications

Bachelor’s degree in horticulture, botany, or related field, with at least five years’ experience in plant propagation, production, tissue culture, and/or nursery management.

Additional Qualifications and Skills

Master’s degree in horticulture, botany, or a related field preferred. Ability to prioritize multiple responsibilities, focus on details, use independent judgment, and accurately complete assignments. Possess strong leadership, communication, problem-solving, organizational, and documentation skills. Proven interest in plant propagation research. Experience in a botanical garden environment. Strong computer skills, including Microsoft Office Suite, and the ability to learn BG-BASE and other new systems. Capable of performing all responsibilities associated with day-to-day operations.

Certificates and Licenses

Must have, or obtain within six months of hire, valid Massachusetts Drivers and Massachusetts Commercial Pesticide Applicators Licenses.

Physical Requirements

Must be able to perform manual labor, including climbing ladders, standing for up to 75% of the workday, and lifting/carrying heavy loads up to 50 lbs.

Working Conditions

This position takes place in a greenhouse setting and/or outdoor environment.

Additional Information

All Harvard community members must comply with the University’s health and safety guidelines and protocols, including but not limited to those related to COVID-19, such as testing, masking, distancing, etc. Additionally, the University requires all Harvard community members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, remain up to date with COVID-19 vaccine boosters, and report their vaccination status via the Harvard University Health Services portal, as detailed in Harvard’s Vaccine & Booster Requirements. You may claim exemption from the vaccination requirement for medical or religious reasons. Note that unvaccinated individuals are subject to additional public health measures (e.g., more frequent testing, more stringent masking, etc.) above and beyond what is required of vaccinated individuals. More information regarding the University’s COVID vaccination requirement and exemptions is available on the University’s “COVID-19 Vaccine Information” webpage:

If you believe you need reasonable accommodation in order to search for a job or to submit an application, please contact us at 617-495-2772. This is a dedicated line to assist job seekers with a disability requiring assistance in applying online.

What Makes the Arboretum Special?
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is the oldest public Arboretum in North America and one of the world's leading centers for the study of plants. Founded in 1872 and designed by America's first landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the Arboretum's first director, Charles Sprague Sargent, the 281-acre Arboretum is a historic landmark and one of the best-preserved of Olmsted's landscapes. A unique blend of beloved public landscape and respected research institution, the Arboretum provides and supports world-class research, horticulture, and education programs that foster the understanding, appreciation, and preservation of woody plants. Along with a horticultural library and herbarium encompassing some 1.5 million dried plant specimens, the Arboretum comprises one of the largest and best-documented woody plant collections in the world, with roughly 16,000 accessioned plants. To learn more about the Arnold Arboretum, please visit

Diversity Statement
The Arnold Arboretum views diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as the pathway to achieving inclusive excellence and fostering a culture where everyone can thrive. Our community is made of individuals who draw from a dynamic range of backgrounds to contribute to the pursuit of our common goals. The work and well-being of the Arnold Arboretum are strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, ethnicity, age, ability, political views, veteran status, and more. We actively seek and welcome people of color, women, persons with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQIA, and those who are at the intersections of these identities, from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods to join us. Together, we strive to create an environment that values diversity, promotes an inclusive culture, and establishes a profound sense of belonging for each member of our community.

Employer Info

125 Arborway
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130


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