The University of Southern Florida Botanical Gardens located in Tampa , Florida is 16 acres of garden and greenbelt with more than 3,000 species of living plants and animals in natural habitats. More than 35,000 people visit the gardens annually which is also home to plant festivals and research in medical botany, and botany education.
The USF Botanical Gardens was established in 1969 and served as a teaching and research facility throughout the next two decades for the biology department of the university. Greenhouses were added and fencing installed in the 1970’s when temperate and tropical trees and shrubs were planted that can still be seen in the gardens today. The palm garden, wetland forest, and sand scrubs were added into the 1980’s as well as the conservatory where classes and workshops are taught and flowering plants are still displayed.
The 1990’s saw a lot of growth with the building of additional structures and new gardens and an increase in visitor traffic outside of the college and research scientists. Today, the USF Botanical Gardens attract visitors from all over the world and host many special events and botany festivals. The gardens are open to the public 7 days per weeks and closed for federal holiday. There is an admission fee with discounts for children, seniors, and students with valid I.D., and members.
USF Botanical Gardens is located on The University of Southern Florida next to Lake Behnke. The gardens are meant to be strolled through with the trails being accessible from the parking lot. The collection of plants includes fruit trees, palm trees, temperate forests, meat eating plants, tropical and subtropical plants and trees, as well as native species.
There are more than 3,000 living species of plants divided into several individual gardens including the Wetland Forest, Fruit Orchard, Temperate Forest, Flowering Trees, The Butterfly Garden, Florida Native, The Sandhill, Palms, Scrub, Rainforest, Shade Garden, Carnivorous Plants, Cycads, Cactus & Succulents, Bamboo, Grasses, and other flowering species, as well as herbs and a scent garden.
The gardens are also home to over 60 species of birds, many insect species including bee hives in the apiary, cats, gopher tortoises, and several species of butterflies and moths that represent the vast biological diversity of Southern Florida.
The USF Botanical Gardens are used for research by USF students and faculty. Educators from the community may also call the University to schedule field trips during public hours and can also access many educational resources including a full course on Bee Keeping, Landscaping for Central Florida, and Invasive Species with Federal and State regulations all through the USF Botanical Gardens website. Under the Bee Keeping Course, there are 15 different courses that provide instruction for all a bee keeper needs to know to keep a hive successfully operating and producing honey.
Volunteers at USF Botanical Gardens are also more than happy to share gardening tips with visitors and materials are available related to the gardening of cacti, succulents, bromeliads, ethnobotany, and how to make grow boxes specifically. The USF gardens also educates on sustainability and sustainable gardening practices. Volunteers can teach visitors how to make rain barrels and harvest rainwater for use in landscaping.
There are annual and special events that are hosted by and at The USF Botanical Gardens. An events calendar is accessible on the website with updates and the ability to make reservations to special events and ticketing information.
Fall Plant Festival- This annual plant festival typically takes place in October and has been a popular festival for over 25 years. Local vendors sell plant and garden wares, scarecrow displays and information on gardening clubs and societies. There are also workshops and children’s activities.
Taste of Honey Event- The Annual Taste of Honey Event is held in September with tickets available in advance or at the door. More than 100 honeys from around the globe are available to be sampled and purchased at this event that features live music, workshops, and door prizes.
Spring Plant Festival- The Annual Spring Plant Festival features local and commercial vendors that sell their gardening wares and hold workshops with a focus on butterfly plants, free arts and crafts, children’s activities, getting your garden spring ready, and expert gardening advice. This event takes place in April.
Summer Plant Festival- The Annual Summer Plant Festival in June is much like the Spring Festival with a focus on butterfly attracting plants, workshops and gardening. All proceeds support the USF botanical gardens with an admission fee for the public and free parking.
12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa, FL 33612, Phone: 813-974-2329
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