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AZH Newsletter

  • July 03, 2018 2:21 PM | Anonymous


    AZH just received a message that Typeform (program used for surveys) experienced a data breach, which possibly affected one of the typeforms AZH created – Browse & Toxic Plant Course Survey.  Typeform reports that an external attacker managed to get unauthorized access to respondent data and downloaded it. This survey has only three responses so if you have not taken this survey, your information is not affected.

    The good news is that Typeform responded immediately and fixed the source of the breach to prevent any further intrusion.

    If your name and email was downloaded by the attacker, then we recommend that you watch out for potential phishing scams, or spam emails. AZH collects no financial information from respondents so no financial information was compromised.

     If you have any other questions, feel free to contact AZH or Typeform.

  • July 02, 2018 2:22 PM | Anonymous

    From the Ground Up

    Keeping Horticulture Alive through Grounds and Infrastructure Management

    Horticulture, Greenhouses, & Facilities Community Symposium
    October 9-12, 2018 | Tulsa, OK and Bentonville, AR
    Hosted by: Tulsa Botanic Garden and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art


    This year’s Horticulture, Greenhouses, & Facilities Community symposium, “From the Ground Up” is focused on practical approaches to resolving issues that all gardens, whether big, small, new or historic need to successfully address in order to achieve excellence in operations and displays. The presentations will highlight current trends, strategies, and philosophies addressing a wide range of topics such as organic gardening, parking, garden renovations, disaster response, gardening and educating with native plants, prescribed burning, new insect pests, and infrastructure maintenance. Gardens that can improve their operational systems and strategic approaches related to these topics can better deliver upon their mission statements and provide a more aesthetic, safe, educational, and pleasing experience for visitors.

    Please note that the symposium will be taking place in 2 separate locations and we have discounted room blocks in Tulsa, OK the night of October 9 and in Bentonville, AR the nights of October 10 & 11.

    Symposium attendees will receive a distinctive cultural experience and in-depth profile of two of the country’s newest public gardens: Tulsa Botanic Garden and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.


    Pricing Information:
    Member Registration: $299
    Non-Member Registration: $399
    Student Registration: $199
    Wednesday 1-day Registration: $189
    (includes Tuesday night keynote)
    Thursday 1-day Registration: $189

    Professional Development Scholarship Opportunities are available - for more information click here.


    Tulsa, OK hotel deadline: September 9, 2018

    Bentonville, AR hotel deadline: September 14, 2018

  • June 27, 2018 2:26 PM | Anonymous


    The Association of Zoological Horticulture is committed to the conservation of our natural environment. AZH awards qualified plant conservation grants to AZH organizational and professional members on an annual basis.  This program is supported by Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund and proceeds from silent and live auctions at the AZH annual conference.

    AZH Conservation Grants are awarded for both in-situ and ex-situ plant conservation work. The deadline for 2018 grant application is July 27, 2018.

    Applications must be submitted online at https://azh.org/about/grants/

    Any questions can be directed to AZH Grant Facilitator, Darryl Windham.

    2017 AZH Plant Conservation Grant award winners were:

    • "Sex and the single Zizuphus: pollinator behavior and the effect of Gopherus polyphemus on seed germination in the endangered shrub Ziziphus celata" Bok Tower Gardens- $5,300
    • "Strengthening our Ex situ Safety Net: Conservation workshop for globally unique collections", Botanic Gardens Conservation International. - $3,600
    • "Study the influence of microhabitat variables on the survival and growth of reintroduced epiphytic orchids at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park." International Center for Tropical Botany/Florida International University - $3,600
    • "Fruit Bats, habitat restoration and natural forest sustainable management in Eastern Madagascar" Naples Zoo and Caribbean Gardens - $4,970
    • "Hawaiian Fern Conservation" Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium - $5,384
    • "Neotropic Bamboo" San Diego Zoo Global/Bamboo of the Americas - $3,600
    • "The Urban Prairies Project" Butterfly Pavilion $7,500
    • "Conservation of the Critically Endangered alligator lizard Abronia campbelli in eastern Guatemala through Habitat Restoration and Community Forest Management- 2017-2018 International Reptile Conservation Foundation $6,000
  • June 26, 2018 2:29 PM | Anonymous


    Season’s Greetings!

    I hate March. In North Carolina, it’s that in-between month where we can a 70-degree day and then it can snow six hours later. And at the North Carolina Zoo, we are between a rock and a hard place. We showcase tropicals throughout our Africa region of the park in the warmer months but about half of those plants are not hardy. We can only display them April through November. So, when it starts to get chilly in November, our teams go through our annual ritual. Dig them up, clean them up, trim them up, put them in a greenhouse for the winter, and wait for spring.

    When we first place plants in the greenhouse, they are small and clean. They are nice. As the winter progresses and the temperatures in the greenhouse stay in the low 70s, they start to green up more. We see shoots and new growth. Ah, how we love that. We water, we clean, and for good measure we monitor for insects weekly, because we are good little horticulturists. Never see an insect from November 1 to February 28. Then, on the first of March, it explodes. You walk into a greenhouse and suddenly there are aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, thrips, scale, fungus gnats, mosquitoes, and, if you are located in the South and have a week of sun and warm greenhouse gravel: fire ants. I can’t tell you how many years I have managed a winter tropical house and thought I had beaten the odds, only to have a fungus gnat fly up my nose. How do they do that?! All the monitoring in the world and they still explode in the spring. So, what is a hardworking greenhouse person to do?

    Honestly… I do very little. Now, I know this doesn’t sound like very practical IPM advice, but remember, managing the population in March is a lot different than managing the population in December. A quick round of an insecticidal soap, a little syringing, hand washing, and pray for April 15. Here in North Carolina, that’s typically our last frost date. We all have that date circled on the calendar and longingly glance at it daily (sometimes hourly). All the teams are prepping for spring and want their plants back. The native predators will take over once they leave the bug-infested greenhouse and they will live a happy spring and summer in the park.

    Now, I admit a little exaggeration and embellishment, but if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can? Have a great spring and good luck!

    Denise Rogers, Natural Sciences Curator II, Horticulture, North Carolina Zoo

  • June 20, 2018 2:32 PM | Anonymous


    Prairie Facts

    In North America, you can find tallgrass prairie, mixed-grass prairie, or shortgrass prairie.

    • Tallgrass: Its main feature is tall grasses, such as indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).
    • Mixed-grass: A transition area between tallgrass prairies and shortgrass prairies.
    • Shortgrass: The two most dominant grasses are blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides); the two less dominant grasses are greasegrass (Tridens flavus) and sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula).

    There are three types of prairies: wet, mesic, and dry.

    • Wet prairies have moist soil. Water drainage is usually poor. As a result, bogs and fens may form. The soil is excellent farming soil.
    • Mesic prairies have good soil and good drainage. They are endangered due to converting to agricultural use.
    • Dry prairies can have wet to very dry soil during growing season. They have good drainage and can be found on uplands and slopes.

    More information on prairies:

    America’s Grasslands: A Threatened National Treasure

    Preserving the Tallgrass Prairie

    Last Stand of the Tallgrass Prairie (excerpt)

    Karval Short Grass Prairie Center

    PHOTO: Meads milkweed


  • June 19, 2018 2:35 PM | Anonymous


    By Danielle L. Green, Director of Gardens and Grounds, Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

    Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend the annual meeting for the Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) hosted by Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) in Fort Worth, Texas. This meeting brought together botanists, horticulturists, ecologists, and researchers from all over the US to report on and discuss saving plants from extinction. Attendees included botanical gardens, universities, arboreta, state and federal agencies, and a few zoos.

    The CPC was founded in 1984 and exists to ensure stewardship of imperiled native plants. Headquartered at San Diego Zoo Global, CPC provides guidelines and best practices to support species survival in the wild. Participating institutions have committed to support the National Collection of Endangered Plants through ex situ conservation, research to support the vision and mission of CPC. Additionally, CPC participating institutions work to promote ex situ conservation of plants, advocate for living collections as safeguards, and communicate scientific understanding of plants and their role in global health.

    Network partners are organizations that support the work of CPC and promote plant conservation. The AZH board of directors was approached by CPC President and CEO John Clark last year about joining CPC as a network partner.

    The two day meeting was packed with five minute “lightning” talks on research projects, web tools for plant conservation, long-term seed storage options, collection management, and many other topics. The break-out session I participated in focused on “10X thinking” to answer the question “How can CPC increase our ability to save plants?” Using this strategy to think bigger and outside the usual box was helpful to come up with some interesting strategies.

    The tour of BRIT was amazing. BRIT holds over one million herbarium specimens in an LEED certified space that is open to the public. The library is home to a beautiful collection of old books and illustrations of plants dating back to the 1500s. It was a great experience to meet new professionals in plant conservation and reconnect with former colleagues and I am excited about the opportunities ahead to promote and save rare plants from extinction.

  • June 14, 2018 2:52 PM | Anonymous


    Hey Zoo Hort Heros!!!

    SYF continues to make great progress in the social media world on awareness raising of how diverse and amazing our careers in science are.  Check out and subscribe (it's easy, and not "spammy") the new YouTube channel for BLOOM!  You will have a chance to view all of the latest media campaign videos, including the latest highlight of their 3rd Horticultural Hero of the Baltimore Orioles.  AZH's very own Houston Snead of the Jacksonville is one too and he is...AMAZING!!  If you haven't seen it yet, you're missing out.


  • June 10, 2018 6:47 AM | Anonymous


    Some of you may have heard me talk about how as zoo horticulturists we respond to many problems others in our field typically would not. For example, when a Komodo dragon decides to eat the four-foot Agave americana that has been in the exhibit for over a year or when the hot grass goes down in an elephant yard and the resident pachyderms destroy an entire tree. You can try to scold the animal, yet I have found dragons to be quite unrepentant. I often say to friends when describing my day that I had “tapir problems” or “crocodile problems.”

    Speaking from experience, I would say that bird problems are the worst. The plants are coated in bird feces, the soil is either drenched or too dry, and mechanical damage is a given. New plants are either picked apart by the birds or crushed by keeper hoses. Pruning is a harrowing experience as birds spontaneously freak out and fly into the wall. Light conditions are abysmal.

    I have been responsible for the Bird World exhibits at the Denver Zoo for four and a half years and have found the small triumphs of growing plants in the exhibit to be both extremely satisfying and frustrating. What makes working around birds so amazing is when you win. When you find that right plant for the right place. The plant that was defeated in one area can thrive when placed in a different location. I have killed a lot of plants in Bird World—a lot. It took years of trials to figure out a workable palette to represent each ecosystem held in the building. Five habitats are presented:

    • Rainforest: a large room with several full-sized trees, multiple pools, and a waterfall. Anona squamosal, Dieffenbachia, Dracaena, Codiaeum variegatum, tree ferns, cycads. Very dark and in need of continuous pruning.
    • The Jungle: smaller with one large Ficus, Alpinia, and Trichelia dregeana (Natal mahogany). Too wet and too dry.
    • Tropics: black olive, Citrus mitus, Crinum lilies, Anthurium hookeri, Codiaeum variegatum. Was over-watered and trampled by previous keeper—now doing quite well!
    • Aquatics: Ficus nitidia (dying from white fly), Alocasia portora and ordata, Agalonema ‘Shamrock,’ Dracaena reflexa ‘Song of India,’ Codiaeum variegatum, Trichelia dregeana. Constantly saturated.
    • Swamp: Ficus benjamina, Dracaena, Spathiphyllum, Zamia furfuracea, Spanish moss, assorted tillandsia. Ironically, the driest room of the building.


    I have learned to manipulate classic mall plants such as Agalonema, Dieffenbachia, and Spathiphyllums to look somewhat natural. My favorite Agalonema to use in many of the exhibits is the cultivar ‘Shamrock.’ The leaves are solid dark green, not the typical plastic looking gray stripped. They work great as a filler and I have several that have thrived for years in the Aquatics room even though it is regularly blasted with a hose and in sitting water. There are also quite a few Dieffenbachias that do quite well and blend with the natural look ‘Camouflage’ and ‘Jungle Boogie’ are decent cultivars. Codiaeum and Cordylines are great for pops of color and do well if they can receive enough light.

    The Ficus trees in the Aquatics room developed a white fly problem a few years ago that has yet to be fully controlled. We have used every tool in the IPM arsenal that has been approved by veterinary staff. The beneficial insect Encarsia formosa was released on multiple occasions with varied results. The material the eggs come on is difficult to keep in place and is also an eyesore. The paper tags would get wet and fall from the trees before the eggs could hatch. Delphastus pusillus has also been released in several exhibits, more successfully in the smaller rooms with less significant infestations. Averaging $500 per release, it is cost prohibitive to have a beneficial program that will truly control the problem in such a large building. Insecticidal soap was not approved as we have two Sloths and sensitive birds in the room. In a desperate attempt to save the trees, a low concentration Imidacloprid soil drench was applied and helped for a short time. We would like to avoid reapplication. Currently, we are consulting with Arborjet to find a formula that will be presented to vet staff for future use. A baby sloth was born a few months ago, so we may have to wait for some time. Sloth problems.

    Three years ago I decided to give giant Alocasia a try. The first species planted was portora which has happily grown into an eight foot tall monster. We have also had great success with odora and macrorizos. After years of thriving untouched in the Aquatics room, one or both of the sloths decided to use the portora as a Slip-n-Slide, shredding the leaves with telltale two-toed gashes. Sloth problems.

    Many of the original trees planted with the building’s inception are still doing well and have withstood continuous hard pruning and harsh growing conditions. Bucida buceras (black olive) tree continues to thrive in the Tropics room. It has shown resistance to white fly and other pests and has a lovely growth habit. Our arborist treats it yearly with Cambistat to slow growth and reduce the need for heavy pruning. I definitely recommend adding this tree to an existing exhibit or new design. Annona squamosa (a relative of cherimoya known as alligator apple) is doing well in the Rainforest exhibit and has even produced fruit. Natal mahogany, (Trichelia dregeana) works well as a filler in tight spots and can be cut back regularly. Although Ficus are famous for being the toughest of them all, I will not recommend them due to their susceptibility to white fly, especially in a closed environment.

    We recently moved in two Cycas circinalis that were outside all summer and had received some cold damage in the fall. After losing the majority of their foliage, they were close to being removed when new shoots began to emerge from the crown and within weeks had grown several feet. They are doing well at this time.

    While visiting the Houston Zoo with AZH in 2014 Corri White and I were impressed by the gravel mulch used in many of their bird exhibits. Upon our return to Denver, we introduced the idea to our bird staff. It was not met with much enthusiasm. After multiple negotiations they agreed to let us try it in the smaller Swamp exhibit. Then came the task of selecting the proper substrate. We presented them with multiple options from local purveyors as well as shipped in samples from around the country including what they use at the Houston Zoo. Every one of them was rejected for being too sharp, too round, too big, too small. Nearly a year had passed by with no progress when on a totally unrelated trip to a local hardscaping facility, I happened to see a bin of small-but-not-too-small gravel. I asked the rep what it was and he said it was just regular old squeegee! I took a sample back to the zoo and it was instantly approved. It had been hiding in plain sight the whole time. The installation was a success and we were asked to use it in the Tropics and Aquatics rooms. All was well until our female sloth decided to start eating it. We had to remove three tons of gravel by hand immediately. Sloth problems.

    I will be handing over the building to a new horticulturist soon and although I will not say I will miss it, I had some interesting adventures and learned to never give up finding the right plant for the right place.

  • June 07, 2018 6:51 AM | Anonymous


    Happy spring, fellow AZH members!

    It is with much excitement that I write this letter and update for the first time as your President. I am truly honored to serve the membership and have been working with the board of directors on some very important initiatives for our organization—all based on feedback from you. Your voice matters and is the driving force for this organization!

    Most of the board members were able to travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba back in February for the mid-year board meeting. These meeting are long but exciting and it is so much fun to be able to bring all of our passions together in order to strategize the upcoming imperatives for the organization. This year’s conference in Winnipeg is shaping up to be a truly robust program and memorable visit for us all. I can’t wait to see everyone in August! I registered—did you?

    As the year shapes up for us all, a large focus is being placed on committees. Committees are the “bread and butter” of AZH and the most fun and effective way to get involved, be heard, affect change, and form meaningful professional ties among fellow members. We are working with committee chairs to update each committee’s mission statement and member roster. Each committee will also be assigned a board representative in order to facilitate communications.

    Our website continues to be a focus as well. It is, after all, our primary representation and resource tool. The communications committee is working hard to keep the site up to date with information and get your expertise and knowledge in there. That info does not come out of thin air! We need YOU to do that. So start blogging, keep perusing the site, jump in on discussions, and PLEASE let us know what you want to see and read!

    Lastly, a call for nominations was sent out to the membership at the beginning of April. Please give careful thought and consideration to your nominations and whether you think that your service as a board member is a good opportunity for you. Serving on the AZH board over the past three years has been an incredibly honorable and fun experience for me.

    Corri Pfeiffenberger, AZH President

  • June 07, 2018 6:49 AM | Anonymous


    Two years ago we said goodbye to a truly inspiring and great contributor to horticulture, zoo horticulture, and conservation. Wendy Andrew was a longtime AZH member, board member, served as president for two years, and hosted two AZH annual conferences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Wendy was passionate about horticulture and helping others as evidenced by her missionary work overseas and service on the board of ECHO Global Farm, a global Christian organization that equips people with agricultural resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor. Her contribution to our organization was immense and AZH is a better organization because of her dedication.

    Wendy’s work and memory are the foundation of the Wendy Andrew Cultivation Grant The WACG has funded five projects for a total of $5,600 in the two years since its introduction to AZH. This year I am pleased to announce the following grant recipients:

    Butterfly Pavilion—Browse Café

    Rolling Hills Zoo—Bringing Bees Back to the Garden

    Sacramento Zoo—Plant Identification/Signage

    Zoo New England—Organic Garden

    Congratulations to the winners!

    These projects are perfectly aligned with the goal of the grant to support work that promotes zoo horticulture. Well done!

    The AZH Wendy Andrew Cultivation Grant seeks to support member projects that promote zoo horticulture and are outside the scope of the existing plant conservation grant program.

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