Have you ever noticed the rich diversity of plants and trees at the Zoo? Did you ever wish that you had our landscaping and gardens in your backyard? The skilled staff in our Horticulture department are responsible for the lush scenery at the Zoo, including our breath-taking gardens.

Conservatory and Gardens

The Ziems Conservatory was originally built in 1904 and is home to a variety of tropical plants. Growing under the glass roof can be found species of bananas, palms, ferns, bromeliads, and an array of other plants from around the world.



Cattleya orchids Photo by Alan Donges

Adjacent to the Conservatory are other special gardens, each with a distinct theme. Our rose garden holds approximately 200 roses with varieties of hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, and climbers, all flowering throughout the growing season. The Toledo Zoo’s Horticulture department has prepared an informative video about how to care for your roses year round.  Whether you are a dedicated gardener or just a homeowner hoping to learn some neat professional tips, this video is sure to give you some great new information and ideas!

A butterfly garden, located near the rose garden, features plants that attract butterflies and interpretive graphics that inform visitors about the wonders of these marvelous creatures. For a quiet moment, step into our secluded formal garden where you’ll be surrounded by an assortment of perennials, annuals, and woody plants.

Challenges of Horticulture at the Zoo


The Zoo’s horticulture staff may create beautiful landscaping and gardens that our visitors enjoy, but they also take care of the plants and trees found in the Zoo’s animal exhibits as well. This poses several unique challenges for the horticulture staff. They must work with the zoo keeper staff to ensure that the plants and trees in an animal’s exhibit are safe for the animal, and also to coordinate a schedule for trimming, pruning, and other upkeep. If animals eat or destroy the plants in their exhibits, horticulture staff members have to restore the plant life as needed. It also requires that the horticulture team starts their days extra early so that the exhibits are clean and ready when the animals come outside from their holding areas.

The Zoo’s horticulture staff is also involved with installing our popular Lights Before Christmas display, which features over 1 million lights and more than 200 animal images.

Beautiful Photographs!

Click here to view incredible garden photos from the Horticulture department.

Seasonal Changes in the Gardens

Click here to see photos and descriptions of seasonal changes in our gardens and landscaping.