Fruits of the Butterfly House

There’s so much to see in the butterfly house like our emergence chambers and amazing butterflies! A few things that don't get noticed as often are our fruit trees!

 Loquat in the Butterfly House.

Loquat in the Butterfly House.

Loquat is a small yellow fruit that is native to Asia. The pleasantly tart fruit has large seeds. Loquat trees prefer warmer climates, but can still be grown in North Texas. In fact, we have a loquat tree in our Gardens right outside the Grand Allee. Our other loquat trees can be found in the Butterfly House.  

 Starfurit flowers.

Starfurit flowers.

Starfruit has a unique shape and it’s crisp texture makes it a great option for fruit salads. Our starfruit tree just started producing fruit. Our staff loves it!

Jackfruit is a vegan food superstar. Unripe jackfruit can be seasoned to taste like pulled pork. Once ripe Jackfruit tastes like a mix of banana, pineapple and mango.  Our jackfruit tree is very tall and you probably won’t notice the fruit unless you look up in the right spot.

Our lychee tree is small and hasn’t produced fruit yet but we can’t wait!

Look out for these trees and other amazing tropical plants on your next visit to Texas Discovery Gardens!

The Great Eggfly

 Male Great Eggfly

Male Great Eggfly

Our Butterfly House is a popular destination for visitors. A common butterfly house resident is the Great Eggfly, a brush-footed butterfly found throughout southern Asia over to Australia in various wooded habitats.

It exhibits sexual dimorphism which means that the genders look different. Males have large white central spots on the hindwings overlaid with a bright blue. Females are duller in coloration, mostly black or dark brown and mimic species of crows a relative of the monarch.  Eggflies are fond of white-blossomed nectar plants.

The males are quite aggressive toward each other and can be seen chasing one another.

Learn more about our Butterfly House residents!

The Spring Plant Sale

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How to get in, get out, and get planting!

Includes new information for returning guests. 

  1. Enter Gate 6 at Fair Park. If there's a gate attendant, let them know you're here to visit Texas Discovery Gardens for free parking.
  2. Park around back by our greenhouse (at the edge of the Starplex Pavilion parking lot just across the street from us). It's at the corner of 1st Ave. and Pennsylvania. 
  3. Bring a wagon if you'd like.
  4. We have plant parking spaces for you to set down your plants while you shop. Please don't take plants in those areas; they're pretty easy to spot as separate from the sale area.
  5. When you're done, look for a volunteer with a clipboard to total your plants.
  6. Inside the greenhouse, you can pay. Become a member for a 10% discount!

General pricing: 

  • 4" squares: $4
  • Quart rounds: $6
  • 6"- 1 Gallon*: $9
  • 3-5 Gallon: $30
  • Select specialty plants are $12 to $40 as marked. 

Plants purchased Friday and Saturday are tax free! (*If you're new to the nursery trade, what we call a 1-gallon container is not quite a gallon in liquid volume. It's smaller than a milk jug. But it's the industry term).

Any other questions? Let us know and we'll be happy to help!

 

All About Host Plants

It’s officially Spring and our Plant Sale is just around the corner on April 7 and 8!  You can choose from more than 600 varieties of native and adapted plants.

If you’re planning a butterfly garden, then you need host plants.

What are host plants?

These are plants that feed caterpillars. We sell hundreds of host plants during each plant sale. Different butterflies have different host plants. In the Spring, Monarchs traveling northward lay their eggs on milkweed. You can find about eight different varieties at our Plant Sale. We offer about 10 varieties of passion vine. In the fall passionvines are covered in Gulf Fritillary caterpillars. Some such as Passiflora incarnata or maypop passion vine produce edible fruit! Pipevine swallowtail caterpillars feed on pipevine. We've seen pipevine get eaten right down to the ground and grow back a few weeks later. 

Want to know more about butterfly host plants? Check out this page on butterfly gardening.  To see what plants we'll have available, browse our Plant Sale List to compile your Plant Sale Wish List! 

Paper Kite Butterfly

We'd like to introduce you to one of our favorite butterflies! It’s a tropical one, so you won’t find it in your backyard, but you can see it in our Butterfly House.

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The Paper Kite (Idea leuconoe) butterfly is a large white and black patterned relative of the Monarch. It’s native to southeast Asia. Like its cousin the Monarch, Paper Kite caterpillars feed on poisonous plants making them and the subsequent butterfly unpalatable to predators. Paper Kite chrysalises are a beautiful bright gold and stand out in our emergence chambers. It can be surprising to see a black and white butterfly emerge from a gold chrysalis. Once this butterfly takes off, it's easy to see how they get their common name. Their flight is slow and floppy.

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Their color pattern is a good example of aposematism or warning coloration. It’s like a huge sign telling predators, “don’t eat me I taste terrible and will make you sick!”

You can see this amazing butterfly and lots of other tropical species at Texas Discovery Gardens!

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.

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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 Earth911.org, 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.

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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.