Top Botanical Gardens In St. Louis

June 20, 2014 7:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

The extremes of the St. Louis climate — bitterly cold winters and summers of intense heat and humidity — make for a short growing season. Local gardens have done a remarkable job curating magnificent gardens and plant collections in these conditions. In some cases, gardeners use native Missouri plants to create lush landscapes. Other facilities use greenhouses and structures to allow plants from around the world to thrive. Check out these five great places to enjoy botanical gardens in the city.
Missouri Botanical Garden
4344 Shaw Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 577-5100

St. Louis locals call their beloved Botanical Garden MoBot, or Shaw’s Garden, after founder Henry Shaw. MoBot is a world-class botanical garden, featuring one of the largest Japanese strolling gardens in the west, the first geodesic-domed Climatron to house tropical plants and waterfalls, an English Woodland garden, extensive rose gardens, a brick structure to house camellias and a massive children’s play garden. The Kemper Center for Home Gardening is a place to learn about horticulture practices — you can even bring your sick plants to be looked at by plant doctors. A garden of wind chimes and scented foliage serves the blind, and everywhere there are fountains, benches and pavilions to help you relax and enjoy the day. The Garden is home to many of St. Louis’s favorite annual events, including the Japanese Festival and events celebrating everything from orchids to carnivorous plants.

St. Louis Zoo
1 Government Drive
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 781-0900

For a real change of view, try spending an afternoon at the Zoo with an eye toward the flora instead of the fauna. The Zoo grounds are landscaped as beautifully as most botanical gardens, with beautifully designed shrubbery and perennial plantings. Individual ecological zones are created for the animals’ habitats that let you feel as if you’re viewing gardens from all over the world. Serene areas to sit and rest in the shade or stretch out in the sun are provided all over the park, with beautifully maintained plantings.

Jewel Box
5600 Clayton Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 531-0080

The Jewel Box in Forest Park is a breathtaking meeting of lush blooms and historical architecture. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was constructed in 1936 in the Sullivan style that was so popular at that time. Four thousand panes of glass, connected by verdigris-finished copper, make up the structure’s eight arches. The conservatory is always filled to overflowing with hundreds of seasonal blossoms and decorative bits of greenery. Special floral shows are on display every year for Easter, Mother’s Day, Christmas and seasonally. The plantings are maintained by the volunteer Flora Conservancy of Forest Park and by the horticultural division of the city’s Parks Department, and a water garden is maintained by volunteers in front of the building.

Related: Top Rainy Day Activities In St. Louis

801 Market St.
St. Louis, MO 63101
(314) 241-3337

Two full blocks in downtown St. Louis have been turned over to create the beautiful CityGarden, an oasis of plantings and sculpture in the middle of the city. The Garden is free, open year-round and fully accessible. The park offers a variety of modern sculptures, six rain gardens, a waterfall and a meandering wall for seating. A mobile phone audio tour is available, narrated by famous St. Louisans like Ozzie Smith, Jackie Joyner Kersee and Kurt Warner. The design of the park is meant to represent the region, with walls representing the limestone bluffs and waterways of this river city. The plantings were chosen by the Missouri Botanical Garden staff, featuring gingko and other trees to provide cooling shade in the St. Louis summers.

Butterfly House
15193 Olive Blvd.
Chesterfield, MO 63017
(636) 530-0076

The Butterfly House in Chesterfield’s Faust Park is a unique attraction in the city. Thousands of butterflies, of all varieties, flit through the air and sip from puddles, delighting adults and children alike. The property is a satellite of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and is planted with gardens meant to stimulate and satisfy the delicate creatures’ appetites. The flowers that attract butterflies offer vibrant colors that will please your eye as well. The playground, park and sculptures outside, and the addition of a cockroach viewing area, make the Butterfly House a well-rounded attraction worth a visit from any serious plant lover.

Related: Best Summer Day Camps For Kids In The St. Louis Area

Lauren Haas was the founder and publisher of The St. Louis Area Family Gazette magazine, and editor-in-chief of Marketplace Magazine. Now, Lauren is a full-time freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Contact her at

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