With its perfect balance of cloudless days and plenty of rainfall, the tropical Sunshine State is home to a vast array of big, bold, colorful blooms. Because of this, there are many botanical gardens that capture the hearts of their visitors. Here is our list of the very best gardens in Florida, so you can start planning your next visit.
The criteria used for this list included having a high volume of reviews on Yelp and Google, with a majority of those reviews being overwhelmingly positive. The locations must also provide educational programs, unique collections of plants and great care shown for their visitors. All 15 featured here certainly qualify, and are listed in no particular order. We hope you enjoy perusing our list, and don’t forget to vote for which one you think is best!
- Naples Botanical Garden
- Harry P. Leu Gardens
- Florida Botanical Gardens
- Mounts Botanical Garden
- Sunken Gardens
- The Kampong
- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
- Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
- Alfred B. Maclay Gardens
- McKee Botanical Gardens
- Bok Tower Gardens
- Edison & Ford Winter Estates
- Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
- Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens
- Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
- Wedding Rates
- Plant Collections
Naples Botanical Garden
Often described as paradise, Naples Botanical Garden is a wonderland of bright flowers and fun events. With six separate gardens and 90 acres of restored native preserve, it is easy to lose oneself on these grounds. People love to just wander to their heart’s content, and the educational programs and conservation efforts here ensure that no urban development will ever happen on this land.
“The garden has something for everyone. The children’s garden has a butterfly garden and enough exhibits to make this a kid destination.” –Kristen H. on Yelp.
Located in Naples, FL
More information: http://www.naplesgarden.org/
Photo by mark whitton
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Whether you come here in July or January, there are always beautiful flowers upon which to feast your eyes at the Harry P. Leu Gardens. The Central Florida location is what allows them to have gardens that feature a wide variety of temperate and tropical plants. This makes for a diverse day of flower-gazing, and allows visitors to experience something different every time they come.
“One of the most beautiful places in Central Florida! Whether you get a membership and bring your out of town guests, or go for free during their annual plant sale, any nature/flower/tree lover will enjoy Leu Gardens.” –Chelsea S. on Yelp.
Located in Orlando, FL
More information: http://www.leugardens.org/
Photo by Tilly C.
Florida Botanical Gardens
Bring yourself, your friends, family and even your dog to the lush landscape of the Florida Botanical Gardens. All are welcome to explore the 90 total acres of natural landscape upon which these gardens sit. There are picnic areas, volunteer opportunities and even an aquatic habitat here, and you’ll feel as if you are walking through all different parts of the world because of the wide array of flowers present.
“This place is a small piece of heaven. You forget to enjoy the little things and then you go to this place and see so many different kinds of plants and you’re amazed.” –Cortney M. on Yelp.
Located in Largo, FL
More information: http://www.flbg.org/
Photo by guyfromlargo
Mounts Botanical Garden
Plants and flowers from six continents (all of the hospitable ones) grace the grounds of Mounts Botanical Garden. It has an affiliation with the University of Florida, which means that visitors have access to plenty of learning opportunities, such as Master Gardeners and the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program. From temperate to tropical, rare to unique, there is something here for horticulture enthusiasts of all tastes.
“This place is amazing and for a small donation you can wander around and enjoy so many different gardens.” –Michel U. on Yelp.
Located in West Palm Beach, FL
More information: http://mounts.org/
Photo by Amy Wagliardo
If you like your botanical gardens with a bit of history and a side of skyline views, then Sunken Gardens is the place to be. You can still escape from the city life here though, as they have more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers aligning meandering paths in which you can lose yourself. They also have gardening workshops, volunteer opportunities and you can even host your wedding there.
“This is one of my favorite places to visit in the Tampa Bay area. I’m a fan of anything that’s retro and/or celebrates nature, so Sunken Gardens is the place for me!” –Cece C. on Yelp.
Located in St. Petersburg, FL
More information: http://www.stpete.org
Photo by Walter
Located on Biscayne Bay, The Kampong is a lush and scenic botanic garden with pristine water-side views. Should you be coming from a state without a coastline, this garden should be high on your list of must-sees. Their heritage collection from exotic locations such as Southeast Asia, Central America and the Caribbean are well worth the price of admission.
“One of my favorite places in the world. A great place to walk. You will love it.” –Larry A. on Yelp.
Located in Miami, FL
More information: www.ntbg.org
Photo by Gardening in a Minute
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
This bayfront oasis of tropical flowers is as much about showcasing beautiful gardens as it is about conservation efforts. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens understands how important plant preservation is to the overall environment, and they care about their stunning flowers just as much as they do about horticultural research and education.
“What a treat! Visually breathtaking, informative, entertaining…would definitely recommend, will likely return!” –Tara B. on Yelp.
Located in Sarasota, FL
More information: http://selby.org/
Photo by Walter
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
As a recognized international leader in conservation and education of the importance of preserving tropical plants, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden takes the horticultural world very seriously. They love to have fun as well; their educational programs are all about hands-on learning and exploring. Speaking of exploring, there is plenty of opportunity to do that here.
“The gardens are huge and have many different types of vegetation. There’s also a huge collection of butterflies, which was unique and really neat to see.” –Shruti W. on Yelp.
Located in Coral Gables, FL
More information: http://www.fairchildgarden.org/
Photo by Ray Cowan
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens
If you like having the option for a plethora of activities while visiting a botanic garden, then Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park has everything you’d want. From hiking and biking, to picnicking and swimming, these gardens have plenty of activities for everyone. Featuring hundreds of camellias and azaleas, and even a secret garden, the horticulture enthusiast has a lot by which to be entertained as well.
“The most magical, spectacular and beautiful trail and garden I’ve ever seen in Florida. I’ve never seen so many butterflies flying around!” –Sarah F. on Yelp.
Located in Tallahassee, FL
More information: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Maclay-Gardens
Photo by Nancy Kellett
McKee Botanical Gardens
McKee Botanical Gardens has quite the history attached to it. What once was a sprawling 80-acre landscape was unfortunately forced to close in 1976 because of land development. But it reopened in 1994, and now makes the most of their 18-acre plot, as they showcase 10,000 native and tropical plants. The picturesque water lilies are also a beautiful sight.
“I have been a member for a couple years now and I love visiting the gardens. The staff are very friendly and they keep the gardens looking nice.” –Mary C. on Yelp.
Located in Vero Beach, FL
More information: http://www.mckeegarden.org/
Photo by boxer_bob
Bok Tower Gardens
With 126 different species of birds, 50 acres of gardens to explore and fascinating architecture to boot, the Bok Tower Gardens are an outdoors enthusiast’s dream. Their education programs are also very engaging for learners of all ages, and they even have a summer camp, which teaches children aged 6-12 about the importance of environmental knowledge and conservation.
“Bok Tower Gardens is truly one of Florida’s hidden gems. The history and story about Edward Bok and his legacy is fascinating.” –Jennifer M. on Yelp.
Located in Lake Wales, FL
More information: http://boktowergardens.org/
Photo by cszaboads
Edison & Ford Winter Estates
If you enjoy learning about the history of places you visit, as well as enjoying its aesthetic beauty, Edison & Ford Winter Estates is perfect. The story goes that Thomas Edison fell in love with the area and built a retreat there. He and Henry Ford were good friends, and so Ford built his property right next to Edison’s. Today there are more than 1,700 plants representing 400 species gracing the grounds.
“A must see, great history. Very relaxed you can get guided tours or just see for yourself.” –Melissa S. on Yelp.
Located in Fort Myers, FL
More information: http://www.edisonfordwinterestates.org/
Photo by Howard Rosenman
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Resting on 62 acres of gorgeous landscape, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens seeks to have their collection be among the most diverse in the state. Their walkways are wheelchair accessible and there are plenty of benches upon which to relax and enjoy the environment. They also love to host special events for their patrons, including a Moonlight Walk that features 1,500 luminaries and live music.
“This is one of the finest gardens in Florida and hands down the best in North Florida.” –Jason C. on Yelp.
Located in Gainesville, FL
More information: http://kanapaha.org/
Photo by Ruby Shoe
Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens
If it’s peace you like, the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens offers a serene landscape and beautiful flowers in which to lose yourself. Inspired by the famous gardens of Japan, their aim is to provide that authentic Japanese experience in a land on the opposite side of the world. Their educational efforts in this regard are what keep educators and students alike coming back for more.
“First time here and I fell in love with this place. Talk about zen and tranquility from every angle you are standing within the gardens.” –Kathya D. on Yelp.
Located in Delray Beach, FL
More information: http://morikami.org/
Photo by Mitch
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Internationally recognized for its historical significance and environmental preservation, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is a natural jewel of South Florida. Featuring 35 total acres of formal gardens with 2,000 specimens of orchid, growth forests and a stunning mansion to boot, these gardens combine natural beauty with historical significance in stunning fashion.
“The gardens are magnificent; beautifully manicured and very romantic. Every which way you turn, something else catches your eye.” –Amy W. on Yelp.
Located in Miami, FL
More information: http://vizcaya.org/
Photo by VISIT FLORIDA Editor
Think we missed a garden? Let us know your thoughts on on Facebook. And don’t forget to vote for your favorite botanical garden in the poll below.
The best place to say “I Do” in Central Florida! Garden weddings have been a tradition at Leu Gardens for many years. This beautiful venue serves as a backdrop for celebrating new beginnings. Weddings, vow renewals and commitment ceremonies are held year round. Please call the Rental Office at 407.246.3681 or email [email protected] for further information.
Standard Wedding Rate
(Wedding venue space for up two hours in the gardens, applies to 26 – 200 guests.)
26 – 180 guests fee $750 ($375 deposit required)
Deposit is required to hold the reservation and are used toward the cost.
Please note: The roses are cut back starting in February each year and will be in full bloom by the middle of April. If you are choosing the Rose Garden wedding site during this time, there will be no blooms on the roses.
Small Wedding Rate
(Wedding venue space for one hour in the gardens, applies to 25 or fewer guests.)
Up to 25 guests fee $250
9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., or 3:30 p.m.
Small Outdoor Wedding Sites: South Woods Gazebo, Trellis & Idea Garden Gazebo
South Woods Gazebo
Idea Garden Gazebo
Small Wedding Details
Small wedding rentals are designed for those who would like to keep arrangements to a minimum. Guests will stand during the ceremony, although upon request we can provide up to five chairs for those needing assistance.
Small wedding fees include one hour rental and a brief rehearsal thirty minutes prior to the wedding. The Rose Room inside Garden House is reserved in case of inclement weather.
After the ceremony you are welcome to take photos throughout the Gardens. Vehicles are not permitted in the Gardens and any props or extra items will need to be carried in by the wedding party. We ask that no petals, rice or other materials be thrown in the Gardens, only bubbles are permitted.
The Standard Wedding sites are available for small wedding, however the Standard Wedding fee of $750 apply.
Garden admission is $10 per person. Once you’ve paid the wedding fee, you may bring family and friends to view your site without paying the admission fee until the time of the wedding. We welcome brides to look at the indoor reception spaces free of charge.
This area displays a wide variety of plants that are drought tolerant. Many come from areas that are seasonally dry or from desert regions. Some types of plants found here include acacias, agaves, aloes, bromeliads, cacti, flowering trees, palms, succulents and yuccas.
Most aroids at Leu Gardens can be found in the Tropical Stream Garden. Some of the plants include Aglaonema, Amorphophallus, Anthurium, Alocasia, Caladium, Colocasia, Dieffenbachia, Monstera, Philodendron, Spathiphyllum, Syngonium and Xanthosoma. Aroids are a large group of plants that belong to the Araceae Family.
Most of the approximately 50 different varieties and species of azaleas can be found in the North and South Woods. Azaleas begin flowering in late winter (Jan/Feb) and are at their peak usually towards the end of February into early March. These are evergreen shrubs that belong to the genus Rhododendron.
Nearly 50 different species and varieties of this woody-stemmed grass are displayed. The plants range in species that grow only a few inches tall to giant timber bamboos that reach over 70 feet (21 m) tall and have canes over 5 inches (130 mm) in diameter.
There are many varieties of bananas that bear the familiar edible fruit, but there are other species that are grown for the colorful flowers or striking foliage. Several bananas have unique flavors including vanilla ice cream and even peanut butter. Bananas belong to the Musaceae Family.
Many bromeliads have brilliant colored flower structures (inflorescences) while others have strikingly colored foliage. Some bromeliads are terrestrial (grow in the ground) while many others are epiphytic (grow on trees). Bromeliads can be found throughout the gardens. Bromeliads are a large diverse group of plants that belong to the Bromeliaceae Family.
This garden contains a wide variety of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees that are attractive to butterflies and moths. Some of the plants are nectar plants; others are larval plants that caterpillars eat. Many of these plants also attract hummingbirds and night-flying moths.
The foundation of this collection is the varieties of Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua originally planted by Mr. Leu. Today, more than 2000 plants and 230+ cultivars are displayed throughout the gardens. This collection ranks among the largest in the United States and is one of the largest documented collections in the Southeast.
Citrus is an important part of the history of Central Florida and to the former residents who lived on the property now known as Leu Gardens. The Grove contains more than 50 different kinds of citrus trees.
As the name would imply, this is one of the most colorful areas in Leu Gardens. This area displays large plantings of annuals, perennials and flowering shrubs suited to Central Florida.
Conifers can be found throughout the gardens and include the dawn redwood and many different kinds of pine, cypress, junipers, podocarpus, araucarias and yew. Conifers are a group of shrubs or trees that produce cones, although there are a few conifers that develop a fleshy, fruit-like structure.
Crape Myrtle Collection
Crape Myrtles can be found throughout the gardens. They are among the most commonly seen summer-flowering shrubs and trees in Central Florida and belong to the genus Lagerstroemia. The long-lasting colorful flowers which vary from deep purple to red to white, with almost every shade in between, are born in summer and autumn in clusters of crinkled, crepe-like texture.
The Cycad collection displays over 50 species suitable for growing in Central Florida. Cycads are primitive plants that have existed for nearly 200 million years. They were the dominant plant life in the Cretaceous Period when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. They are palm-like in appearance, but have no relation to palms.
Most are low growing plants, although some are tree-like and can grow over 10 feet (3.0 m) tall. Most ferns prefer a shaded location and can be found throughout the gardens. Ferns are ancient plants that reproduce by spores.
Flowering Tree Collection
Many different flowering trees can be found throughout the gardens with specimens in bloom every month of the year. With our Central Florida climate, both temperate and tropical trees grow well here.
Fruit Tree Collection
Different temperate, subtropical and tropical fruit trees can be found throughout the gardens including acerola (Barbados cherry), avocado, coffee, guava, jaboticaba (Brazilian grape tree), jackfruit, longan, loquat, lychee, macadamia, mango, nectarines, papaya, peaches, pears, persimmon, pineapple, plums and starfruit.
Ginger and Heliconia Collections
These two collections are found mainly in the Tropical Stream Garden. The Ginger Collection is a diverse group with plants having colorful flowers or foliage and contains plants in the Zingiberaceae Family. Heliconias have banana-like foliage and bear spectacular flowers.
Displays of culinary, medicinal, ornamental, educational, historic and aromatic herbs, some of which are also butterfly attractants can be found here. Reminiscent of kitchen gardens from the turn of the century, herbs appropriate for the Central Florida landscape are demonstrated near the Cottage.
Hibiscus and Mallow Collection
Important commercial, edible and ornamental members of this family includes cotton, okra, cocoa tree tropical Hibiscus, Rose-of Sharon, abutilon, mallow, floss silk tree, baobab tree, kapok tree, pink ball tree, shaving brush tree and other showy plants. These are found throughout the gardens.
These include many selections of the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), Liriodendron, and other temperate and tropical species. Many of the trees in this collection bear very fragrant flowers.
Native Wetland Garden
This garden was created to invite wading birds and other wildlife into the area. The plants here are almost all entirely native. They help filter pollutants from the water and protect the shoreline from erosion. They also provide food, habitat and shelter for birds, fish and other wildlife.
Ornamental Grass Collection
Ornamental grasses are one of the most versatile groups of plants in the garden landscape. During the growing season, the ornamental grasses range in height from 6 inches to 14 inches or more and can be used as accent plants, ground covers, screens, border edgings, or as companions with a wide range of other plants.
Ornamental Tree Collection
The Ornamental Tree Collection is found throughout the gardens and consists of trees that don’t produce showy flowers but still make ornamental specimens for landscapes. Many of these make good shade trees while others are good for street plantings or smaller specimens. An assortment of oaks, maples and ficus are included in this collection.
This collection contains nearly 400 species of cold hardy and semi-tender palms suited for the Central Florida climate. This collection ranks among the most extensive collections in the United States.
Perennial Trial Garden
Many temperate and tropical perennials from all over the world are grown here and evaluated for their suitability as landscape plants in Florida. Many bear showy flowers, others have attractive foliage.
Mary Jane’s Rose Garden is named after Mrs. Leu. She planted her first roses by the lake, and in 1944, a small rose garden was developed on the site where the current garden is located. Over 215 varieties and 650 roses are displayed in this garden. All are suited for Central Florida growing conditions.
Tropical Stream Garden
This garden creates the atmosphere of a tropical rainforest with a gurgling stream that winds its way into Lake Rowena. Many tropical and subtropical plants suitable for Central Florida are displayed here including aroids, bananas, bird-of-paradise, traveler’s tree, bromeliads, calatheas, tropical conifers, crotons, gingers, heliconias, palms, ti plants, ferns, tree ferns, flowering trees, banyan tree, vines and others.
The 1500 sq. ft. vegetable garden demonstrates varieties of fruits and vegetables suitable for Central Florida’s climate. The attractive display also exhibits many old and new growing techniques that can be utilized to maximize production and save time in the garden.
Nearly every plant family has members with a vining or climbing habit. There are vining herbs, orchids, aroids and even vining palms and bamboo. The vine displays are grown on the chain link fence that borders the Idea Garden and the Tropical Stream Garden. The total display contains more than 150 different vines, many with showy flowers, suitable for Central Florida.