Marie Selby Botanical Gardens: Everything You Need to Know

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When visiting Sarasota County, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are bayfront sanctuaries connecting people with native nature. In addition, the historic Spanish Point Campus gardens are spread over 45 acres to view the regional history of air plants.

Up to 15 acres are spread over the Downtown Sarasota Campus, while 30 acres are found over the Historic Spanish Point Campus in the Osprey area. It is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to studying epiphytic orchids and other tropical indoor plants.

The garden has a rich regional history; students focus on education, botany, preservation, and education. You will find the HSP located 10 miles south of Little Sarasota Bay. The American Alliance Museum accredits the Marie Selby Botanical Garden and is a Smithsonian Affiliate.

The botanical gardens were started by forward-thinking women back in the day.

Key Takeaways:

  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a renowned center for botanical research, conducting vital plant conservation and biodiversity studies.
  • The gardens foster a deep appreciation and understanding of plant life through comprehensive education programs for all ages.
  • The institution is deeply committed to conservation efforts, actively engaging in initiatives to protect endangered plant species and habitats.
  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens promotes community engagement and appreciation for nature’s beauty by hosting year-round garden events such as plant sales, lectures, and guided tours.
  • Embracing sustainability practices, the gardens lead by example, implementing eco-friendly gardening techniques and advocating for environmental stewardship.
  • Known for its prized collections of orchids, epiphytes, and flowering plants, the gardens showcase rare and valuable specimens, contributing to its status as a hub of botanical excellence.
  • Visitors can enjoy the gardens during their operating hours, typically from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily, with the Museum of Botany and the Arts closing at 4:30 PM. The gardens are open on Thanksgiving Day from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM but closed on Christmas Day.

A Hub of Botanical Excellence

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a revered center for botanical research, conducting invaluable plant conservation and biodiversity studies.

Through its comprehensive education programs catering to all ages, it nurtures a profound appreciation and understanding of plant life.

Furthermore, the gardens are deeply committed to conservation efforts, actively engaging in initiatives to safeguard endangered plant species and their habitats.

The institution fosters community engagement and appreciation for nature’s beauty by hosting year-round garden events, including plant sales, lectures, and guided tours.

Embracing sustainability practices, the gardens lead by example, implementing eco-friendly gardening techniques and advocating for environmental stewardship.

What are Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Known For?

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens boasts the most extensive documented assortment of epiphytes globally, including orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, and ferns, adapted to thrive in tree canopies.

Approximately 10% of the world’s flora flourishes in epiphytic conditions. Located on Sarasota Bayfront, the gardens offer diverse attractions, including the captivating Children’s Rainforest Garden, appealing to visitors of all ages.

This tropical haven invites children to immerse themselves in nature, featuring a cascading waterfall, interactive research stations, swinging bridges, caves, trails, and an Amazon village with a theater. With a single entry/exit point for safety, parental supervision ensures children’s well-being.

Marie Selby Plant Groups and History

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is home to native nature and tropical plants. Here, you can find orchids and other outdoor plants. Some standout collections are:

Living Plant Collection 

It comprises nearly 13,000 accessions, making it the foremost collection globally for warm-tropical epiphytes and boasting unparalleled richness in bromeliad species.

In addition to bromeliads, the collection excels in representing other epiphyte-rich families such as Orchidaceae, Araceae, Pteridophyta, and Gesneriaceae.

The Spirit Collection

It holds around 35,000 vials of flowers and plant parts preserved in fluids, making it the largest in the Western Hemisphere and second-largest globally.

The collection includes nearly 33,000 vials of Orchidaceae, 2,000 vials of Gesneriaceae, and 300 vials of Bromeliaceae, showcasing its extensive diversity and significance.

Herbarium (SEL)

Houses over 115,000 specialized collections of tropical flora, primarily from neotropical regions, focusing on epiphytes. It welcomes visiting scientists and students for research purposes and offers international loans to recognized institutions, typically renewable annually.

Notably, the herbarium boasts significant representation from the Andes and Central America floras. Among its specimens, approximately 40,000 are ORCHIDS, nearly 13,000 are Bromeliad, 9,400 are Flowering plants, and 6,500 are collections from Florida.

Research Library

The Research Library focuses on tropical plants, particularly epiphytes, housing about 7,000 volumes.

It includes a rare book collection from the late 1700s, 14,000 scientific journal issues, 2,500 microfiches of early botanical references, and photographic slides, illustrations, maps, and historical archives.

Covering plant classification, study of plants in specific regions, gardening, plant structure, interactions with the environment, economic uses, and evolutionary aspects, the library provides extensive support for botanical research.

Marie Selby Botanical Garden Etiquette,

Rules and Guidelines

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens allows families, youngsters, and volunteers to visit this gorgeous place. Whether Downtown Sarasota Campus or Historic Spanish Point, take the family for a fun-filled day.

Historic Spanish Point and Downtown Sarasota Campus Garden Hours

The Selby Gardens is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM, while the Museum of Botany and the Arts closes at 4:30 PM. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are open on Thanksgiving Day at 10 AM and close at 3 PM, but the gardens are closed on Christmas Day.

Cost for Admissions

The entrance to the Downtown Sarasota campus for members is free admission, and guests with members pay $11. Adults are $21, aged 5-17 are $11, while youngsters under four are free. Another important note is that the parking at the Downtown Sarasota campus is limited.

When visiting the Historic Spanish Point campus, members have free admission, while their guests need to pay $8. Adults cost $16, aged 5-17 pay $11, and kids under four are free.

Events & Exhibitions

The Selby Botanical Gardens has many special events, exhibits, concerts, and more available at Sarasota Bay. Some upcoming events are:

  • Cocktails at the Cottage is an open-air evening at the Bay-Historic Spanish Point Campus.

  • At Downtown Sarasota Campus, you can find exhibition and floral design evenings.

  • A must-visit is Halloween at Selby Gardens at both campus sites.

  • There are also the Lights at Spooky Point and a New Year’s Eve bash at the Downtown Sarasota Campus.

You can receive a monthly dose of your preferred destination directly in your inbox. Their E-Newsletter ensures you stay updated on upcoming events, exclusive offers, and the latest highlights for your Sarasota visit.

Guest Safety and Garden Care

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

When visiting the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, a significant rule is not to touch the flora as some are toxic. Always walk on sidewalks and always keep supervision over children.

What Can You Wear in Marie Selby Botanical Garden?

We recommend you take our sunscreen, insect repellant, and sunglasses to remain comfortable. You can bring along a stroller for young kids. Also, wear comfortable walking shoes.

Photography Policy

All photographers are welcome at the gardens to capture photos and videos for personal use. Yet, any other form of photography for weddings, special occasions, or commercials needs to be authorized by Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

Prohibited Items

  • Tripods and stands are not allowed in the conservatory but on the grounds.

  • Food or beverages from outside are not allowed into the greenhouse.

  • Scots or any other form of sports equipment are not allowed.

Innovating a Greener Future

It is a campaign focused on advancing sustainability and environmental consciousness within the institution. Through this initiative, the gardens actively implement strategies to reduce their ecological footprint, promote green practices, and foster a deeper connection with nature.

This campaign underscores Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ commitment to innovating solutions for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

Final Thought

If you’re in Florida, don’t miss the chance to explore Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens alongside McKee Botanical Garden. Fairchild’s diverse plant collection offers a unique array of tropical flora you won’t want to miss.

At Plantly, we’re passionate about connecting people with the wonders of plants and nature, and we hope to inspire your botanical adventures.

Frequently Asked Questions

The short answer is to allow yourself plenty of time, at least two hours. Then, you can take a relaxing stroll to spend the day exploring the entire campus, from the greenhouses, horticulture sections, and lakes, to the gardens.

No outside food and beverages are permitted in the location of the gardens.

If you do want to become a volunteer or donate anything to the campus, you can contact the Development Department: at [email protected]

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is only accessible to members for free, and adults to youngsters need to pay a fee to enter the downtown campus gardens. There is on-site parking available, but it is limited.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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