Seasonal Operations
Spring

Guests enjoy searching for each new sign of spring in the Garden. In the Shoenberg Temperate House, spring begins in February and peaks in March and April. Outside, the unusual blooms of witch hazels perfume the air on warm February and March days. Looking down, guests may be pleasantly surprised to see clumps of white snowdrops, colorful crocus, and winter aconite. By the end of March through May, colorful blooms are evident everywhere in the Garden, on trees, bushes, and at ground level. Don't miss the magnolia walk, azalea/rhododendron garden, flowering cherry trees, redbuds, and dogwoods. Enjoy the brilliant colors of daffodils, tulips, pansies, woodland wildflowers, iris, peonies, roses, and many more flowers.

Spring is one of the busiest times of year for the horticulturists. Spring annuals are planted to provide a continuous display of color. Perennials must be divided, and spring bulbs deadheaded and eventually removed to prepare for the summer plantings. Horticulturists design, plant and place containers and baskets as accents in many locations. In May, summer bulbs are planted in the bulb borders and summer annuals replace spring-blooming annuals in display beds throughout the Garden. Besides planting, planting, and more planting, outdoor staff spend time fertilizing, weeding, and planning displays for the coming fall and next spring.

Inside, the Floral Display department wraps up the orchid show in March and begins building props for the Holiday Show which occurs in November and December. The permanent indoor plant collections (research, orchids, tropical foliage, and cacti and succulents) are maintained year-round by the greenhouse crew. Additional spring duties in the greenhouses include transplanting summer seedlings, ordering mums for fall, and whitewashing the outside of the greenhouses.

Summer

Summer in the Garden is lush, fragrant and colorful. Guests enjoy the plants that thrive in hot, humid St. Louis summers. Roses in the Gladney and Lehmann Rose Gardens are at peak bloom and fragrance. Daylilies dazzle in June and July. The Garden’s famous water lilies amaze visitors with their huge platter-like leaves (up to 75 inches wide!) and lovely blooms from July through September. Summer annuals brighten the Garden with vibrant color.

The Kemper demonstration gardens and the fruit and vegetable gardens give summer visitors great ideas for their home gardens. Inside the Kemper Center, visitors can take advantage of the Reference Library, the plant database, and a wall-size gardening tips calendar. Volunteer Master Gardeners and Horticulture staff share their expertise through demonstrations, classes, and The Plant Doctor diagnostic desk. The Horticulture Answer Service is available by phone (314-577-5143) year round from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with its busiest time and highest staffing from April 1 through October 31.

Outdoor Horticulture staff spend much of their time maintaining the spectacular summer displays by fertilizing, weeding, watering, and mowing. Meanwhile the Greenhouse crew is thinking autumn, winter, and spring! 2000 mums are grown for autumn, and poinsettias and other blooming plants arrive as tiny cuttings for the Holiday Show.

Students participating in our Summer Intern Program are a big help to staff at this busy time of year. Rotating through every aspect of Horticulture, these students work beside our expert staff. They learn and network throughout the summer while getting plenty of hands-on work experience in one of the country’s oldest public botanical gardens. Their enthusiasm and energy is refreshing and renews our own inspiration in this magnificent environment.

Autumn

The colors of Autumn are spectacular at Missouri Botanical Garden and Shaw Nature Reserve. Guests enjoy long walks and day-long visits at the Garden and the Nature Reserve on crisp fall days. Ornamental grasses are showy throughout the Garden. Roses and water lilies bloom into early autumn. Watch for ripening bright red berries on numerous holly trees.

Outdoor horticulture staff remain active, busily preparing for winter and the coming spring. Annuals are replaced with chrysanthemums and pansies in every color imaginable. Non-hardy bulbs and water lily tubers are pulled and prepared for winter storage. 70,000 to 75,000 bulbs are planted for next year's awesome spring display.

An important practice performed at this time of year is mulching. Fresh mulch gives the landscape a clean look and throughout fall, mulch will help to suppress seasonal weeds. Later in autumn, leaf pick-up becomes a major activity for the outdoor horticulturists.

Inside, our Floral Display department has long been working on sensational props for the Holiday Show and for the Orchid Show. The Holiday Show runs from the Saturday before Thanksgiving and ends on the first Sunday of the new year. The Orchid Show is one of our longest shows, running from early February through mid-March.

The permanent indoor plant collections (research, orchids, tropical foliage, and cacti and succulents) are maintained year-round by the greenhouse crew. Additional autumn duties include propagating plants for outdoor spring displays, ordering seeds and plants for the summer displays, ensuring the holiday plants are at their peak, and helping to install the Holiday Show in November.

Winter

Winter is a time of muted colors and interesting textures outdoors. Greens, grays, browns, and whites dominate the landscape but are interspersed with flashes of red, yellow, orange, pink, and purple berries. Decorative planters contain creative arrangements made from seasonal trimmings of hollies, other evergreens, crapemyrtles and ornamental grasses. Take time to notice the seedheads on ornamental grasses, flowers, bushes, and the bladdernut seedpods. Notice the various colors and textures of the bark on trees with names such as lacebark pine, ironwood, musclewood, striped-bark maple, and paper birch. Indoors, the conservatories (the Climatron, the Temperate House, and the Linnean House) are cozy, colorful, and fragrant all year long.

Missouri Botanical Garden is open every day except Christmas. Unlike plants that go dormant during winter, the horticulture staff remain active throughout the coldest months of the year.

Outdoor staff continue the fall duties of leaf pickup and mulching perennial beds. Without leaves to obstruct the view, winter is the ideal time to prune many of our deciduous shrubs and trees. Staff also tackle the often monumental task of snow removal.

Inside the Orthwein Floral Display Hall, the festive Holiday Show begins on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and ends on the first Sunday of the new year. The floral display crew is assisted by the greenhouse crew and some of the outdoor staff in installing and maintaining this impressive floral show. At the same time, they are preparing for the upcoming Orchid Show, which runs from early February through mid-March.

The permanent indoor plant collections (research, orchids, tropical foliage, and cacti and succulents) are maintained year-round by the greenhouse crew. Additional winter duties include propagating plants for summer displays, ordering plants for next year's holiday show, and helping install and maintain the floral shows.

Because the conservatories are continually blooming under glass, duties remain somewhat the same through the year. Some smaller plants are changed seasonally in the Moorish Garden of the Temperate House and in the Linnean House. Look for cyclamen and poinsettias brightening these two conservatories and countless other blooming plants in all three conservatories.