Stanmer Palm House, Brighton (Enter Exotica!)

01:00 - 01:00

Stanmer Palm House, Brighton (Enter Exotica!)

The Building

It was built in 1952 for Brighton Council and is unique-i.e. only one was ever built! It is leased and managed by Plumpton College and owned by Brighton & Hove City Council. For many years it was a tropical house. We now use it as a cold palm house i.e. it is not heated and we have recorded minus eleven degrees Centigrade. Stanmer is colder than Brighton because it is inland and in a frost pocket so we use the Palm House to grow plants that can be grown outside in milder Brighton.The elegance of the structure has attracted various uses eg to perform plays in; film/photograph bands; exhibit art and sculpture; fashion, model and advertising photo shoots-even Jeremy Paxman and Newsnight were broadcast live from it in September 2013.

The Planting (and how you could reproduce it OUTSIDE in the Brighton area)

We have planted it with plants that you could usually get away with in the South of England-particularly near the coast, in terms of hardiness.

a)   Some plants enjoy the longer growing season, so flower longer, earlier or better e.g. pomegranates, Campsis, olives, Albizia, Lagerstroemia and grapes (you could reproduce this by planting by walls).

b)   Some enjoy shelter from wind e.g. Tetrapanax, hardy bananas (again you could plant near walls or provide wind breaks).

c)   Some need extra protection from cold e.g. Philodendron bipinnatifidum, Yucca elephantipes, hardy bananas, Cannas, Agaves, Brugmansias (you could keep roots drier and provide frost protection e.g. fleece or straw).

d)   Some are not very hardy but still usually seed themselves in the Palm House (and should do so in the South because it is mild) e.g. Cosmos, Castor oil plant, Echiums, Nicotiana.   

e)   Some can get chlorosis – turning yellow due to nutrient deficiency on chalky soils- so a feed with sequestrene can help e.g. bottlebrushes. 

Open Days

The Public Open Day will be Saturday, 28th June 2014 (61 years since it was first open to the public)-voluntary donation in aid of the Sussex Beacon, Brighton.


If you like a plant and want a cutting please ask our staff/students.

Buying tropical effect plants

Two local nurseries that supply these types of plants are:

a)   Big Plants Nursery

Hole Street, Ashington, West Sussex, RH20 3DE

01903 891466

b)   Architectural Plants

Nuthurst, Horsham, RH13 6LH

01403 891772


Tropical and house plants:

House of Plants

Five Ashes, Mayfield, TN20 6HJ

  01435 874 874 

Horticulture Courses

Plumpton College offers a wide range of part-time and full-time Horticulture and Land Based Courses over five sites including Stanmer and Plumpton. See for more details.