Like animals, the Toronto Zoo houses a variety of plant species from around the world! But, did you know the Toronto Zoo is home to one of the largest tropical plant collections in Canada? You can see many of these plants year-round as you enter the pavilions, in our Greenhouse or around site during the warmer months. The Toronto Zoo has a whole horticulture team full of plant experts to ensure they are taken care of, especially since Canada has a much different climate than many of the areas the plants come from.
Bio-Geographical Plant Sourcing and Displays: Plants and seeds are sourced internationally by the Curatorial Gardener; from private collectors, and nurseries around the world. Seeds are sourced from Africa for our African Rainforest Pavilion, Australia for our Australasia Pavilion, etc. Some plants are grown for years in the Greenhouse before they are ready to be added to displays and habitats onsite!
Landscape Development: Creating and renovating gardens, animal habitats and picnic areas are ongoing projects for the Horticulture team. Some of the projects onsite include; Shamba Farms, Browse Plantations, Ornamental Garden Displays, and animal habitats both inside, and outside. Creating, renovating, and rejuvenating existing horticultural features is something the team loves to do! Along with all of these, the team takes care of the Natural Play, Native Art Garden, Core Woods revitalization, and invasive species identification and control.
Browse – Horticulture staff are working with the Entomologist, and Zoo nutritionist in order to provide sufficient insect browse all year round. A more formal browse plant nursery for the invertebrates is being developed and a more reliable supply of certain browse material is expected to become available in future years as the plants mature. Through regular pruning and plant maintenance, and special occasions, the horticulture staff takes an ongoing interest in providing browse to animals throughout the Zoo. It is anticipated that a series of smaller, more accessible on-site browse nurseries will allow for more regular delivery of greater quantities of browse.
Orchid Collection – One of the oldest plant families, found on every continent except Antarctica, Orchids have won their way into the hearts and homes of many. With 25,000 – 35,000 species worldwide, it has become one of the most popular flowering houseplants. The Toronto Zoo is home to hundreds of Orchids; seasonally on display in the greenhouse, watch for our annual orchid oasis.
Dr. Schofield Memorial Garden – This Korean garden located within Eurasia has a focus on ornamental horticulture which was built at the Zoo in 2010.
Eurasia Daylily Garden / Collection – Some Hemerocallis species originate in the same area as the Amur Tigers. Outside of our Amur Tiger exhibit we have created a daylily garden. One half of the daylily garden is species daylilies, the other half are all Canadian Hybridized and registered Daylilies. With donations from Hybridizers and growers across Canada, the Ontario Daylily Society has been instrumental is building our daylily collection. We are the only Species / Canadian Hybridized Daylily garden in the world. This is an ongoing project that will expand over the years to come. Make sure to visit the garden from Mid-June – Mid-July to catch the daylilies blooming.
Exciting things in the plant world:
Corpse Flower – Pablo Pe-ew Caso flowered several years ahead of schedule, in September 2018. Amorphophallus titanum have been in the collection for the past 5 years, but Pablo was the first corpse flower to bloom in the GTA, a huge success for the Toronto Zoo. We have several Amorphophallus titanum in the collection and have recently added several other rare species to the Aroid collection to be on display in upcoming years.