Pollinating Vanilla!

April 9th, 2015

Over the past few weeks I have been hand pollinating Vanilla planifolia flowers in the North Garden. This is one of the vanilla orchids from which  vanilla pods are produced . There are over a 100 species of vanilla in this genus. Only a handful of the species are used for flavorings. When a vanilla flower is pollinated, the seed pod that is produced is the vanilla “bean” that is used in the flavoring of food and as an addition to many other products. It is not a true “bean” (like a green bean) but actually an orchid seed pod. We have 3 different kinds of vanilla in the North Garden, all climbing on the wall between the North Garden and the Palm Dome. Two of the species of vanilla are blooming today. I have been hand pollinating this flush of flowers on the Vanilla planifolia since March 5th. Vanilla grows in many parts of the world, like Madagascar, where its pollinators do not live. The vanilla we have is native to parts of Mexico. So it needs to be hand pollinated to produce fruits.Flowers grow in clusters and a few open each day over about a 6 week period. The flowers are receptive to being pollinated for only 4-6 hours, generally in the early morning. I have been pollinating the flowers about 10am any day that I can get the lift and have access to open flowers. I have attempted pollination of 45 flowers since March 5 and it looks like there are at least a dozen pods that have formed!!! Yay!! Not fantastic odds but my goal was to get one pod—so I am doing OK!! This is the first time that I have had success pollinating vanilla!  Go vanilla!!- Gardener Margaret


Light It Up Blue for World Autism Awareness Day

April 3rd, 2015

The Palm Dome was lit up blue on April 2 for World Autism Awareness Day! ‪



March 10th, 2015

The Conservatory has been around for 100 years! We know that everyone has a unique story and experience in this wonderful building, so now is your chance to share them! Use the hashtag #MMC100 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share your pics and experiences with us! The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory turns 100 this year! Use the hashtag #MMC100 to share your pics and experiences! pic.twitter.com/wfC8PYW9wm— Como Zoo (@ComoZoo) March 9, 2015


Fox 9 Stops By To Visit Tropical Encounters!

January 29th, 2015

Dale K and Fox 9 stopped by yesterday and learned about some of the amazing plants we have in Tropical Encounters!

Not only did he get a personal tour from Bryn, one of our Gardeners, but he also got a surprise visit from Zookeeper Bree and Chloe!



Orange Is The New Red in the Sunken Garden!

December 8th, 2014

The Holiday Flower Show tradition began in 1925 and continues to be the most anticipated and visited flower attraction at the Conservatory today. It is a visual sensation to behold featuring hundreds of poinsettias. Orange is the new red in the 2014 Holiday Show and will feature a new Poinsettia called Autumn Leaves, a beautiful mix of yellow and pink bracts.  The show will be complimented with the following Poinsettia cultivars:  Orange Spice, Maren, Marco Polo, Premium Apricot, and Sparkling Punch  to give the show more orange, pinks, cinnamon and apricot colors. The two toned yellow Coleus Wild Lime will accent the poinsettias.