Utah’s climate isn’t exactly hospitable to foreign tropical plants. However, the top floor of the Pope Science building is home to a greenhouse which houses dozens of tropical and arid plants.
Vlad Orlov, a student majoring in Healthcare Administration and staff member at the greenhouse, spends most of his time giving detailed care to the plants, each with their respective habitats.
Orlov’s passion for plants dates back to his childhood. Growing up in Russia, Orlov said plants helped him cope with hardship.
“Life in Russia is pretty hard,” Orlov said. “I think for me studying tropical plants was a way to escape that reality. When I was 9, I went to a tropical greenhouse and was blown away. I think that’s what started my passion for plants.”
As a teenager, Orlov quickly learned that caring for tropicals requires a lot of knowledge. “When I was hired there (Russia), I felt very inadequate compared to everyone else because they were very knowledgeable. I tried to compensate for that by studying just about anything I could find.”
Orlov said he studied college textbooks on tropical plants and studied them vigorously, which gave him greater confidence that he “knew [his] stuff”.
Now, Orlov is heavily invested in the activities hosted at the greenhouse. Many of the activities there are done through the Horticulture and Botany Clubs. The greenhouse has expanded its student involvement and plant collections.
The next big project at UVU’s greenhouse is to integrate an automated watering system. Orlov is collaborating with the Greenhouse manager Nick Read to make the designs for this project.
“I was here Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day just because things need to be watered every day,” Orlov said. “In the summertime, if you don’t water for one day, most of the plants will just dry out and be dead or nearly dead.”
Orlov labors at the conservatory to provide a space where students can take advantage of the beauty and ambiance. “I’m here a lot more than I’m required to be because I care about the tropical collection. I try to go above and beyond to build it into something that will be more worthwhile.”
Orlov can be found at the monthly plant sales, which are done to the horticulture club.
The next plant sale is February 1 in the SB atrium.