Butterflies bloom at Frederik Meijer Gardens


GVL Archives

Colleen Garcia, Staff Writer

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park has opened their annual Fred and Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition. The exhibition draws in nearly 1,000 visitors each week, with guests coming to watch the butterflies’ transformation.

“(Attendees can) enjoy thousands of butterflies as they fly freely in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory and learn about the positive and powerful impact flowers have on the world,” said John Vanderhaagen, media representative for the park. 

The garden now homes more than 7,000 tropical butterflies, which started hatching on March 1. The butterfly habitat in the West Michigan garden is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation. 

There are now 60 species coming from regions all over the world, including Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Philippines and Kenya. The exhibition will host the animals in a heated conservatory. The conservatory will also feature a variety of colorful flowers including plume flower and blue porterweed, as butterflies are attracted to brightly-colored flowers.

The goal of this year’s project is to highlight flowers’ ecological impact. 

“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.”

The Caterpillar room in the Grace Jaeki Seasonal display greenhouse is home to the monarch caterpillars. This greenhouse will be used as an observatory for guests to learn and see how flowers are used in the life cycle of butterflies as they transform from caterpillar to butterfly.

The young monarch caterpillar will feed on milkweed host plants mixed with flowering spring plants within the seasonal display greenhouse. However, the monarch won’t be the only species of caterpillar in Grace Jaeki greenhouse.

“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,” Vanderhaagen said. “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.”

Future events to be aware of at the Frederik Meijer Gardens. Include Tuesday Night Lights. The park is offering lecture talks as well for people to learn more about butterflies and their environment. The first lecture was SMART Gardening to Support Monarchs on March 13. The second is Flower House Detroit on Sunday, March 27 at 2 p.m. as well as Flower Power Exploration Stations on Sunday April 24, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.