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Botanic Garden

Welcome to the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

Close up of an orange and black butterfly perched on a yellow flower. You can see fine detail in the antennae and fuzz on the flower stem


Opened in 1996, the Botanic Garden has grown to 32 acres of exhibits, and showcases plants from the American Southwest and around the world.

The Botanic Garden’s BUGarium is one of the most elaborate exhibits dedicated to bugs and arthropods in the country.

The Travel Channel cites ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden as one of the top 12 in the country!

Seasonal Update:

Learn more about featured seasonal plants!

Featured on 5/29/24: The genus Opuntia encompasses at least 300 species and hybrids of prickly pear cactus, an iconic symbol of the desert. The shallow roots of easily capture rain water, and excess water is stored in the pads of the plant. Nutritionally, raw opuntia leaves are 88% water. These adaptations help the prickly pear survive during long periods of heat and drought, but they are also the most cold-tolerant of the lowland cacti, extending up into western and southern Canada. Most true cactus are native only to the Americas, but human action has introduced them to many other areas of the world where they have thrived or even been named invasive. The prickly pear is the official plant of the state of Texas, and is found in emblems and symbols for many other countries and cultures around the world. Both the fruit and the pads are often prepared and used to make appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, vegetable dishes, breads, desserts, beverages, candy, jelly, and drinks. In addition to providing a food source for humans and other desert animals, they are also important pollinator plants that support habitat connectivity for migrating pollinators. Cactus makes a great natural fence that keeps in livestock and marks the boundaries of family lands.

Prickly pear cacti naturally thrive in neutral to slightly acidic well-draining soil that is somewhat sandy or gravelly (whether planted outside or in a container), but they can grow in other types of soil if there is ample drainage. Clay or slow-draining soil can be problematic in cool regions where prickly pear will sit in moist soil during winter. They need very little water and in many areas they can survive on rainwater alone, which makes them excellent for xeriscaping. Water them only when the soil is completely dry and be careful not to over-saturate. The fleshy pads of the cactus may shrivel or droop in the winter, but cacti go through cellular changes to protect themselves from frigid temperatures and the pads should plump up again as the temperature rises. The flowers emerge as early as May, then fruit emerges and is ripe in late summer to early winter.

Pictured below is a Comanche Pricklypear in the Lava Flow, named because it is widespread throughout the ancestral lands of the Comanche tribal nation. Follow the trails from the Southwest Desert Conservatory to see many varieties of flowering cactus throughout our New Mexico habitats!

Comanche Pricklypear

Featured on 5/15/24: The High Desert Rose Garden is officially in bloom! The smell of roses draws you in even before you reach the breezeway, and there's a variety of colors and other flowers on display.

Roses are arguably one of the most famous flowers on Earth. The genus Rosa has over three hundred species and tens of thousands of hybrids or cultivars, something humans have been working on for around 5,000 years! There are three main categories that a species or cultivar will fall into: Old Garden Roses, Wild Roses and Modern Roses. Modern roses are among the most commonly seen, and they were developed to have larger blooms continuously; Old Garden varieties predate 1950. In addition to a rainbow of colors, there are also variations in growth habits including erect shrubs, climbing, or trailing.

In general, roses do best in sunny locations where they are sheltered from strong winds. They thrive best in well-drained, fertile loam soils. Research the best pH for your chosen cultivar, as some roses have adapted to tolerate soil ranging from moderately acidic to moderately alkaline. Though ramblers and other species aren’t responsive to heavy pruning and it can damage the rose, hybrid climbing roses can be pruned to develop new, vigorous canes and to adjust their size to the trellis, pergola, fence, or place where they are being grown. Climbing cultivar Rosa 'Devoniensis', pictured, is a repeat bloomer from spring until autumn.

Rosa 'Devoniensis'

Featured on 5/8/24: Meet the English hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata. Hawthorn trees are typically smaller-sized flowering trees which have red berries in the fall and are perfect for attracting and hosting year-round wildlife in the garden. The genus Crataegus includes several hundred species of shrubs and trees which are native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America. The leaves and berries are medicinal and strengthen the heart. The various species, cultivars, and hybrids offer a variety of flower colors. Some, like the 'Crimson Cloud' inside the Botanic Garden's gate, are actually thornless! 'Paul’s Scarlet' hawthorn has a brilliant pink double flower with a white eye. Other species, like Russian hawthorn, feature green bark and white flowers, and the popular cultivar 'Winter King' showcases brilliant fall color.

Many species and hybrids are used as ornamental and street trees, or hedge plants; they can make excellent bonsai trees, too! Hawthorn need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day; full sun is better, but they can tolerate partial shade. They are not too fussy on soil types, although they need enough drainage to not be waterlogged, and can handle slightly alkaline to acidic pH. Give them room to thrive (and watch out for those thorns too close to walkways!) and overall, hawthorns are an excellent drought tolerant selection for arid climates and small garden spaces.

English hawthorn 'Crimson Cloud'

Featured on 5/1/24: Chinese wisteria, or Wisteria sinensisIf you were to walk under a canopy of Chinese wisteria clusters, your first thought likely wouldn't be of beans! But the genus Wisteria is indeed a part of Fabaceae or Leguminosae, commonly known as the legume or bean family. The four species of wisterias climb by twining their stems around any available support, even as high as 66 ft above the ground and spread out 33 ft laterally. The largest on record is more than 1 acre in size and weighs 250 tons! It lives in Sierra Madre, California and was planted in 1894.

Chinese wisteria does need a strong support structure, like steel, to climb. American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) is a vigorous, but less-aggressive, grower. While still requiring a strong support, American wisteria tends to behave better in smaller garden settings. The Botanic Garden collections feature Chinese, Japanese, and American Wisterias; each are unique and have slightly different bloom times and flower density. If you are short on space, don't fret: all wisteria can be displayed as a small weeping tree with regular training and pruning, and will do well grown on an obelisk in a large container. Chinese wisteria is very hardy and fast-growing. It can grow in fairly poor-quality soils but prefers fertile, moist, well-drained soil. It thrives best in full sun for 6-8 hours; shade or partial sun will reduce flowering. They say good things come to those who wait: although vines *may* produce flowers by the second or third year after planting, it may take much longer (sometimes up to 15 years). Plants grown from seed may take up to 20 years to flower, but that's nothing when it can live for up to 100 years! It can also be propagated via hardwood cutting or softwood cuttings to reduce the wait time until maturity. Regular pruning(s) will help control size and shape of the plant, and encourage flowering. One last consideration: all parts of the plant contain some harmful compounds, such as Wisterin and lectin, which can cause problems when ingested. It's best to keep all parts of the plant away from pets and children, so make sure you can start it in a safe spot!

Chinese Wisteria in the Ceremonial Garden

Featured on 4/17/24: Pictured here is the cultivar Viola 'Mulberry Shades', found in the containers in the Curandera Garden for Spring. Did you know that all pansies are violas, but not all violas are pansies? Though many use the names interchangeably, you can tell the difference by looking at the petal arrangement: a pansy has four petals pointing upward and only one pointing downward; whereas a viola flower has two petals pointing upward and three petals pointing downward. The genus Viola is the largest of the family Violaceae with over 680 species, most of which are found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere but there are some found in Hawaii, Australasia, and the Andes.

This means an abundance of colors to choose from when planning your own garden! Viola cultivars are often among the most popular bedding plants in the U.S. They will need moist, well-draining soil and won't do well in clay or loam soil. Although they need full sun and will have trouble blooming in complete shade, they will die off naturally when the temperatures get too high in summer. Enjoy your blooms from late winter to spring!
A close-up image of a viola flower marbled with purple and white edges and a light orange toward the center

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