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Botanic Garden

Welcome to the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

flower and butterfly

NOTE: The Botanic Garden and Aquarium will close at 4 p.m. from Nov 25 - Dec 30 to prepare for River of Lights.

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 1/24/24: 'Mystic Maze' is an intergeneric orchid species hybrid, which means breeding two or more genera together. This is usually done with orchids belonging to the Odontolglossum tribe and includes the genus of Brassia, Cochlioda, Miltonia, Odontoglossum, and Oncidium. 'Mystic Maze' average between 20-28 inches tall, with star-shaped flowers that can be about 5 inches across.

Some species of orchid have evolved to mimic wasps or other insects, who will come either to mate or defend their territory and are tricked into helping with pollination! With their mild fragrance, they can attract other pollinators as well.

They can grow in filtered sunlight or partial shade, but like to be kept humid in a well-draining substrate like decomposing bark with pumice, volcanic rock or another porous material mixed in. Because they are epiphytic, they need excellent airflow. Keep them happy and they will bloom in January/February and again in March/April.

Intergeneric orchid species hybrid 'Mystic Maze'

Featured 1/10/24: Sarracenia, or trumpet pitcher plants, are a perennial temperate and cold-climate carnivorous plant native to the Eastern & Southeastern United States, the Great Lakes Region, and parts of Canada. They live in nutrient-depleted boggy environments and have evolved to digest insects as a source of nourishment. The colorful appearance and fragrance of the plant’s tubular pitchers serve to entice, confuse, and then trap the insect. As the insect approaches the pitcher, the scent and semi-translucent light patterns created by the architecture of the plant lure the insect into the tube. Once inside the tube, the brilliant “window pane” venation and narrowing conical shape of the plant disorient and funnel the insect into the bottom of the tube where a pool of digestive enzymes dissolve and consume the insect. Although scented and colorful, the pitcher tube of the Sarracenia is not a flower. Instead, Sarracenia flowers are produced in the early spring on stems that are held high above the alluring digestive tubes. This is to prevent pollinators from being eaten before they have had a chance to visit the flowers. Once flowering begins to come to an end, the plant will switch entirely to pitcher production, feeding itself through summer and dying back to the ground in late fall.

There are at least 8 recognized species of Sarracenia and more than a hundred hybrids and cultivars available in the commercial market. Sarracenia grow best in bright filtered light and in damp but well-draining acidic soil, usually with a high mix of peat and sand. Sarracenia should also be watered with filtered water to avoid mineral buildup in the soil. A true perennial, they need a cold dormant period to complete their flowering and growth cycle so cultivated Sarracenia should be allowed a cold, wet resting period. Although they seem exotic, treat Sarracenia more like a garden perennial with seasonal changes rather than like a tropical houseplant.

Many species and hybrids found in nature are threatened by habitat loss through commercial development and over-collection by the floral industry and carnivorous plant hobbyists. Estimates suggest that more than 97% of Sarracenia habitat has already been destroyed by development and three species are currently federally listed as endangered. If you choose to purchase and care for a Sarracenia, make sure your plant comes from a reputable, nursery-bred supplier and never collect Sarracenia from the wild. You can see the pictured cultivar Sarracenia 'Meerkat mob" on display in the Mediterranean Conservatory now!

A cluster of pitcher plants stands in the foreground with a red flowering vine out of focus behind them. The pitchers are a bright yellow-green webbed with maroon veins throughout, and a round-edged triangle shaped hood stands perpendicular to the tube's opening. Two logos are overlaid: White curvy font that says "What's blooming?" with a line drawing of a daisy is in the top left corner, and the ABQ BioPark's 4 facility logo is in the top right

Featured 12/27: The Botanic Garden welcomes winter with seasonal evergreen arrangements located throughout the garden. Each area has its own theme, from medicinal plants in the Curandera garden to traditional Japanese New Year’s arrangements in the Sasebo Japanese Garden. Evergreen containers are composed of cut fir, pine, juniper, and cedar boughs, then accented with dried fruit and seed pods such as rose hips, pomegranate, lotus, eucalyptus, mahogany, and okra. Height is added with ornamental woody branches such as dogwood, curly willow, kiwi vine, birch, or bamboo. These arrangements will be on display through late January and are another great reason to visit the Botanic Garden in winter!

A close up of an arrangement of evergreen plants in a container at a public garden featuring a dried bright red pomegranate and a large open seed pod that makes the shape of a heart

Featured 12/20: The poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is one of the most widely-recognized holiday plants in the Western hemisphere. More than 70 million are grown and sold in the US during the six week holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Although most people picture them bright red, poinsettias come in a wide array of other vibrant colors including white, green, peach, and salmon! The photo below is the cultivar 'Christmas Beauty Cinnamon', on display inside the Aquarium front lobby.

Poinsettia, which occur naturally in tropical dry forests from Mexico to Guatemala, is a plant with many names and a long history of cultural use and admiration. In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, it is called Cuetlaxóchitl (pronounced kwet-la-sho-shel) and has been cultivated for dye, medicine, and ceremonial ornamentation by Indigenous cultures throughout Mexico and Central America. When Spanish missionaries arrived in the 1600s, they observed that cuetlaxóchitl bloomed during the Christmas season and named it Flor de Nochebuena or la Nochebuena, meaning Christmas Eve flower. Because of its beauty and striking color, the missionaries began using la Nochebuena to decorate their churches and alters at Christmas. Then in the 1820s, a man named Joel Poinsett, U.S. minister to Mexico and Secretary of War under Van Buren, brought cuttings from Mexico to the U.S. and began cultivating them at his plantation in South Carolina. During this time, English-speaking Americans began to call the cuetlaxóchitl "poinsettia," and it quickly became an iconic holiday symbol in homes across North America. Cherished by many cultures across the world, and in a season filled with gratitude and gift-giving, the poinsettia/la Nochebuena/Cuetlaxóchitl is a lovely reminder of the many gifts we receive from both ancient cultures, and from the natural world around us.

Poinsettias are easy to grow as a seasonal houseplant. They are a euphorbia, which is semi-succulent, so they prefer soil to be evenly moist but not too wet, and a bright location away from drafts or extreme heat. Don’t worry too much about your pets and children: while the natural latex can be an irritant to those with sensitivities, it is not considered toxic. If you are brave enough to try and keep your poinsettia all year long, pinch it back a couple times through spring and summer to promote dense growth. In the early fall when days become shorter, move it to a location where it gets less sunlight, like an east-facing window, to promote new colorful bracts in time for the holidays!

Close up of a poinsettia bloom, a cultivar that is marbled with peach and soft pink instead of the traditional bright red

Featured on 12/6: Don't let the cold weather fool you! There is still plenty of beauty at the Botanic Garden on winter days, particularly inside the Conservatories. Inside the Desert Conservatory, you'll find bright displays of Christmas cactus. Of the three species commonly called Christmas cactus, you can tell Schlumbergera truncata apart by the presence of (Santa) claws on the leaf tips.
Schlumbergia are native to the coastal mountains of Brazil, where they are an understory plant that live in relative high humidity, compared to their desert-dwelling cactus counterparts. Modern cultivars come in an array of vibrant colors from magenta, to gold and red. One of the most common mistakes people make is to assume this cactus enjoys a hot location in direct sunlight. Instead, like epiphytic orchids, in their natural environment they are found growing on trees, or sometimes in rocky crevices. Also like orchids, Christmas cactus enjoy higher humidity but require excellent drainage and airflow or they are prone to root rot. Grow holiday cactus in bright, but filtered, light in a well-draining, orchid-mix soil and it will reward you with festive holiday blooms from November to January each year. Which makes it more accurately: a Thanksgiving cactus!

Close up of the dark pink and white bloom of a Christmas cactus in the Desert Conservatory

Featured on 10/25: Celosia argentea, or plumed cockscomb, is an herbaceous annual plant native to India and Nepal that's closely related to amaranth. The seeds, leaves, and flowers are all edible and Celosia is eaten as a staple green in West Africa and Southeast Asia, in much the same way Americans eat spinach or kale. As an ornamental in the Southwest U.S., Celosia is best used to add colorful early spring and fall texture accents in container arrangements, or as a companion plant in raised vegetable beds. It comes in a rainbow of vibrant colors and can be used in fresh cut or dried flower arrangements as well. Celosia will require regular, even moisture and protection from midday and late afternoon summer sun. Once the blooms have faded in the spring, cut it back by about 1/3 the total height to keep Celosia compact through the summer, and encourage a second bloom in the fall.


Featured on 10/18: The name Chrysanthemum comes from Ancient Greek words for "gold" and "flower." There are about 40 species in the genus Chrysanthemum, and countless horticultural varieties and cultivars of this herbaceous flowering plant from East Asia. They are seen often in both Chinese and Japanese cultures, even featured on the Imperial Seal of Japan! Ornamental mums prefer cooler temperatures and are a perfect fall accent in the garden! We treat our mums as annuals at the Botanic Garden, but in home gardens they can overwinter easily and will continue to bloom year after year. If left in the landscape over winter, mums benefit from an early summer shear to keep them compact and to delay flowering until cooler fall temperatures arrive. Mums prefer full sun; they will tolerate some shade, however, too much will delay blooming and produce leggy growth. Mums prefer even moisture as the flowers will quickly fade if kept too dry.

Chrysanthemum 'Fire Glow Bronze'

Featured on 10/4: Millet is a nutritious grain crop native to Africa and India. The ornamental hybrid looks great through the first frost; then birds, mice, and even porcupines enjoy eating the dried seed. It grows more like an annual grass here and will reseed in the garden; the small millet seeds included in wild bird seed mixes have also been known to sprout given the right growing conditions. Ornamental millet like ‘Purple Majesty’ can be found in a variety of colors and has been cultivated for its showy seed heads that are used both in outdoor fall plantings and indoor floral arrangements.

Head to the Children's Fantasy Garden to find our ornamental millet planted alongside an assortment of fall color and cool season crops such as: sunflowers, zinnias, amaranth, chard, kale, carrots; and evergreen herbs such as lemon thyme and purple garden sage. With the walls of the castle courtyard garden trapping in extra heat and sheltering the plants from cold wind, we are looking at extending the growing season there through November!

Ornamental millet 'Purple Majesty'

Featured on 9/20: The Japanese anemone is also nicknamed “windflower” for the way their blooms dance gracefully in the slightest breeze. They bloom in the late summer and fall and are a great way to extend perennial color in your garden. Because Japanese anemones have a single row of petals they have an abundance of stamens, and therefore an abundance of pollen, which the bees adore. Japanese anemones appreciate part shade in the Southwest but can tolerate full morning sun and filtered afternoon sun.

Japanese anemones can reach up to 4’ tall in the garden and most cultivars will reseed prolifically but are not difficult to control. Allow them to naturalize in your yard to create a perfect fall pollinator habitat. Once the petals drop, the globe-shaped seed heads are an ornamental accent into winter and the leaves and stems will provide protection and nesting sites for overwintering beneficial insects. They can be cut back to the ground in late winter or early spring as part of your regular spring yard clean up.

In the Sasebo Japanese Garden, ‘September Charm’ begins the fall show in late August and early September and just as it reaches it’s peak bloom, a second cultivar, the white-flowering Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorie Jobert’ takes over the show. Using both cultivars in succession extends the blooming season right up until the autumn leaves begin to color and drop.

Japanese anemone "September Charm"

Featured on 9/13: Lantana is a frost-tender herbaceous plant in the verbena family, native to tropical areas of Central and South America and Africa. Lantana is a heat-loving, drought tolerant annual in the Albuquerque area; one of few annual plants that can bloom continuously through the heat of summer. Lantana comes in an array of saturated colors from pink and white to yellow, orange, and red. It is much-loved by pollinators, in particular butterflies, but in warmer climates it can be invasive as the seeds are eaten and spread by birds. It can be planted in containers, hanging baskets, or in the ground as a bedding plant, and requires very little supplemental care once planted. Water regularly and fertilize once or twice during the growing season and lantana will reward you with colorful blooms for late spring to early fall! Pictured below is the cultivar Lantana ‘Bandito Orange Sunrise’, in the Jardín Redondo.

Lantana ‘Bandito Orange Sunrise’

Featured on 9/6: Sweet Autumn Clematis, scientific name Clematis terniflora, is a fast-growing deciduous twining vine that can be as big as 20 feet long! While many twining vines climb by twisting the stems OR leaf stalks around a support structure, this plant from the buttercup family uses both. An abundance of fragrant white flowers, like a mix of honey and vanilla, bloom in late summer/early autumn and are attractive to many different pollinators. Even after their flowering season is over, leftover silvery seedheads make it an attractive winter interest as well. It grows best in full sun or partial shade, but can be tolerant of dense shade too. Be sure to give it moist, well-drained soil and prune back severely in winter or early spring; the flowers need new wood to sprout from next season. Whether you train it to climb or allow it to grow along the ground and wander through shrubbery, it's a beautiful choice for your fall and winter scenery!

Sweet Autumn Clematis

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