Beginning March 1, 2022, more than 7,000 tropical butterflies are set to take flight within the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park as part of the highly anticipated annual Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition—the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation.
This year's exhibition highlights the power of flowers and the positive and powerful impact flowers have on butterflies, people and the world. New this year within the Conservatory is a beautiful kokedama arch, highlighting colorful penta, lantana, bromeliads and orchids, while creating an oasis for butterflies. Kokedama is a moss-covered ball of soil on which ornamental plants grow. An additional flowering kokedama curtain is planned for the Caterpillar Room within the Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse, featuring a mix of flowering and herbaceous material.
The experience begins the moment guests arrive, with fresh flowers welcoming guests in the new Welcome Center and continuing throughout the Gardens and Sculpture Park, as the weather warms.
Approximately 60 colorful species of butterflies and moths journey from butterfly-rich regions of Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Philippines and Kenya to fly freely in the five-story tall, 15,000 square-foot Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. At 85 degrees and 70% humidity, this balmy environment mimics the tropical regions the butterflies call home. Butterflies visit clusters of brightly colored flowers, including pentas and lantana, that provide landing platforms for guests to view up close. Plants flowering during the exhibition include orange plume flower, blue porterweed, and jatropha, as well as queen's wreath and bleeding heart vines.
Species of butterflies expected to arrive include the blue common morpho, whose iridescence impresses in flight, as well as brushfoot varieties such as the clearwing, lacewing and zebra mosaic. Likewise, the longwings captivate with distinctive wing patterns, as seen on the small blue Grecian, doris, postman and tiger butterflies. Gliders like the emperor, ruby-spotted and orchard swallowtails will also add to the diverse assortment.
"We're highlighting the power of flowers this year more than ever," said Steve LaWarre, Vice President of Horticulture. "Our goal is to bring an awareness of the important relationships butterflies and humans have with flowers, and to show the positive and powerful impact flowers have on butterflies, people, and the world."
An average of 1,000 pupae have begun to arrive at Meijer Gardens weekly from around the world. Guests can watch as delicate chrysalides and cocoons are placed in the Observation Station, where these unique and fascinating creatures then transform and spread their wings for the first time.
The Caterpillar Room, in the Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse, features monarch caterpillars. Here, guests will have the opportunity to observe how flowers play a role in the lifecycle of butterflies. Caterpillars hungrily feed on milkweed host plants mixed in with the flowering spring plantings and ferns that encompass the perimeter of the Seasonal Display Greenhouse.
Of course, there are some rules to be followed while visiting the exhibition, including refraining from touching any butterflies and removing any butterflies or plant materials from the Conservatory, per USDA regulations.
To learn about extended hours, exhibition activities and more, visit Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
Courtesy of West Michigan Woman.
Photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.