New to Butterfly Gardening? Read This.

It’s that time of the year again! Our Spring Plant Sale is coming up on April 7 and 8. You can choose from more than 600 varieties of native and adapted plants! You could wait until you have your plants in hand to start planning your garden, but that could lead to plants left in their pots for longer than intended. Here’s a pro tip: start planning your garden now.


Let’s focus on planning a butterfly garden. What do you need to attract butterflies to your garden? The first thing you’ll need to think about is location! Most butterfly attracting plants are sun-loving, so you’ll need a spot with plenty of sunshine. Next you need to know what to plant. Native and adapted host and nectar plants are essential. Host plants feed hungry caterpillars and nectar plants feed adult butterflies.

Want to learn more about gardening for butterflies before the big sale? Join us for our popular Butterfly Gardening Workshop on March 24.

Earth Friendly Tips

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At Texas Discovery Gardens we want our visitors to discover how they can sustain the natural world. And organic gardening is just the tip of the iceberg! Sustaining the natural world can also mean reducing our waste. You can even get the kids involved!  That’s the focus of Earth-Friendly Friday of our Spring Break Safari Week, which starts this Monday.

What are some earth-friendly tips you can start using now? We asked our staff for some ways they try to reduce or reuse waste, here are some of their answers:

  •  I am a Tea lover, and if you are too then this tip will help your potted plants live longer! Instead of throwing away my used tea bags, I used them as fertilizer in my potted plants.
    -Mariel Pardo, Guest Relations and Membership Services

  • Lately, I've been trying to live plastic straw-free. It's hard because sometimes I forget or the waiter forgets and in the middle of my meal I realize there's a straw in my glass. When I do remember, I feel great that I'm reducing my waste (even if it's a small change) and it's a great conversation starter!
    -Haley Estrada, Marketing Manager

  •  If you have an ant problem, instead of spraying pesticides, you can try spreading used coffee grounds around where they are getting in. The acidity repels them!
    -Alissa Rodriguez, Entomology Assistant

  • If I bring a snack or sandwich up to work, I like to wrap it in a cloth napkin instead of using a plastic bag. I not only reduce my plastic use, but I also now have a napkin for lunch instead of using a paper towel from the break room! Bonus: cloth napkins are just pretty. It makes my lunch or snack more enjoyable.
    -Sarah Gardner, Director of Communications

  • Recycling is easier than it seems for apartment dwellers! I recycle at home, even though my apartments haven't always supported it. Most cities have public drop-offs for recycling - I looked it up on, and it turned out the closest facility was right behind my grocery store. It was not that cumbersome to have my recycling in my trunk, and when I went to the grocery store, I always stopped by the recycling facility! Need another incentive? Less trash to take to the dumpster!
    - Erin Shields, Education Director

If you can’t make it for Earth-Friendly Friday, don’t worry we have fun themes and activities planned throughout the week!

Late Winter Blooms

Now that we’ve had a few warm and rainy days you can expect to see some plants bloom! We have several things blooming in the Gardens.

Here is what’s in bloom now:

 Afghan Cherries

Afghan Cherries

  • Leatherleaf Mahonias
  • Crocus, Hyacinths
  • Coral Honeysuckle
  • Winter (Fragrant) Honeysuckle
  • Afghan Cherries
  • Daffodils
  • One bloom on Buffalo Currant
  • Creeping Phlox just beginning
  • Four-Nerve Daisies
  • One flower on Agaritas but covered with buds
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There’s one small yellow flower that blooms very early and always gets attention--negative attention.

Here are some reasons you might want to give dandelions a second chance.

Bees are some of the earliest pollinators you’ll see in your garden and they rely early blooming plants like dandelions for nectar. Dandelions are also edible. You can eat every part of the dandelion. Harvest leaves for a salad or brew roots and flowers into tea.

So, maybe think twice before removing them.


Our Volunteers!

At Texas Discovery Gardens, we couldn’t continue encouraging the community to sustain the natural world without our volunteers! They’re oh-so-important to this mission.


Roseann and John in the Greenhouse work hard to propagate plants they also work closely with our Greenhouse staff to keep our grounds looking good. Judy volunteers as a docent in the Butterfly House on Fridays. A group of Master Gardeners maintains our Master Gardeners’ Garden, one of our most popular destinations.

Other volunteer opportunities include:

  • Helping in our education department
  • Volunteering during special events, including the State Fair of Texas
  • Working with our staff to do community outreach

If you’re interesting in sharing your love of nature with others, fill out an application form.

Tawny Owl Butterfly (Caligo memnon)

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One of the bigger Butterfly House residents is the Tawny Owl. This master of camouflage has a striking feature, it greatly resembles an owl underneath with a pair of very large yellow eyespots.

These eyespots are used to scare away predators.  Imagine being a hungry bird and spotting a delicious looking butterfly. Then, all of a sudden, you see a pair of huge owl eyes staring back at you. That’s enough to make you look for a meal elsewhere.

Because of these eyespots, they’re often mistaken for a Blue Morpho, but owl butterflies don’t have bright dorsal colors. One thing they have in common with Morphos is their taste in snacks, owl butterflies feed on fruit and sap.

Visit Texas Discovery Gardens to see these beautiful bugs up close.

Entomophagy: the Art of Bug Eating

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To some folks, eating bugs is something they would never consider doing voluntarily, there's an ick factor they can't get over. At Texas Discovery Gardens, our staff are no strangers to the world of Entomophagy. We've tried cricket protein bars, chocolate covered meal worms, ant candy, and fried grubs. 

There are around 1500 edible insect species. But why eat insects? Insects have better nutritional value compared to other animals; they’re high in protein and low in fat.


And there’s so many ways to enjoy them!

In Mexico, grasshoppers known as Chapulines are prepared by being toasted and then tossed in a mix of lime, chili powder, and salt. In Africa, termites and caterpillars are commonly eaten. Insects are eaten as tasty street food in many Asian countries.

Have we convinced you to try some?

If so, you’ll have an opportunity at our upcoming event, Love is in the Air. 

Keep it Rosy

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Roses are February’s favorite flower; you’ll be seeing them all over for the next few weeks. February is also prime pruning time for roses, but how do you do it?

First, take some safety precautions. Wear some thick gardening gloves to protect your hands from thorns, and if you’re really going to town some eye protection might be in order. You’ll also need some sharp sterilized pruning shears.

Once you have geared up, examine your rose bush. Take note of the dead, diseased, or injured cane and remove them. If you have several rose bushes, sanitize your shears between plants. 

Throughout the blooming season you can deadhead, or remove dead flowers to encourage new flowers to grow.

Want to learn more? Dr. Peter Schaar will share the secret to perfect roses during our annual rose care workshop, Keep it Rosy, on Saturday, February 10. Participants will get to take some a rose plant. 

Blue Morpho

The Common Blue Morpho is a stunning butterfly that ranges from Mexico to northern South America.

 Photo by Dawn Gordon

Photo by Dawn Gordon

You might think that with a name like Blue Morpho, this butterfly would be blue. And our eyes definitely see it, but the iridescent color is a result of structural interference of the scales and is not from pigments. The scales that we see as being blue are actually translucent.

Is it blue all over? 

Nope. The Blue Morpho is an expert at camouflage. When in flight we see the beautiful blue, but when the butterfly is resting you could walk right past it and not even notice there's a butterfly near you. The underside of the wing is a dark brown with eye spot patterns.    

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Snack Time

Blue Morphos patrol the edges of forests along streams and trails and visit decaying fruit and sap flows for nutrition. In our Butterfly House, they are kept happy with a supply of slightly stinky over-ripe fruit.

Learn More 

Join us for Travel to the Tropics Saturday, January 27 and learn about other butterflies that you can find in our Butterfly House and their countries of origin.

Million Dollar Milestone

 Jeff Kosoris, the Million Dollar Member

Jeff Kosoris, the Million Dollar Member


You may (or may not) have heard that on Saturday, January 13 our Gift Shop reached $1,000,000 in sales! This would not have been possible without all of you - our visitors, members, and donors. Whether you bought a box of flavored crickets or a giant windchime, thank you!

Our Gift Shop opened in 2009 two weeks before the start of the State Fair of Texas. "It has been fun and amazing to watch the shop grow,” says Gift Shop Coordinator, Kerry Ragsdill.  She's been on board since day one!

Kerry has been preparing for the million dollar sale for a few months. Late last year, in anticipation reaching the $1M goal, our Gift Shop offered everyone 10% off their purchase. Every purchase over $25 was entered into a drawing to win a $250 gift card. We also had a special gift basket full of staff favorites from the Gift Shop to give to the person who put us over our goal. 

 Kerry Ragsdill and Jeff Kosoris

Kerry Ragsdill and Jeff Kosoris

Before the sale that pushed over the $1M mark, she and the rest of the Gift Shop staff were closely monitoring sales. "Reaching the Million Dollar Milestone was amazing and terrifying all at the same time. We wanted to do something for our members and visitors, hence the giveaways! My goal was to hit it in December, but hitting it on the Volunteer Appreciation Day was just as exciting. Not just for me, but for the entire staff, too. We had been watching the sales go up and up. With each sale closer & closer it was hard for me to maintain my excitement. I think I scared the winner, Jeff Kosoris," continued Kerry. 

What now?

Kerry explains, "I’m looking forward to the next million! I just hope it doesn’t take 8 years  4 months and 10 days!"

Winter Care for Indoor Plants


We’ve talked about preparing your outdoor plants for cold weather. But what about winter care for indoor plants?

Your indoor plants may not be exposed to the chilly outside temperatures, but there are other factors that affect them. Houseplants react to changing light in the winter and often grow dormant, depending on the species. Dormant plants don’t require as much water as they did in summer. Over watering in the winter can be harmful to your plants and cause problems like root rot. Succulent plants such as Christmas Cactus only need to be watered lightly every two to three weeks. Snake plants can be watered once a month or less. If you use a humidifier during the winter, your plants might need even less water.

Once Spring rolls back around, you can go back to your normal watering schedule. 

Thoroughly research your houseplants to make sure you’re providing the best environment to keep them happy and healthy during the winter.