Lukas Nursery & Butterfly Encounter
“The Butterfly Encounter attraction has grown to be one of the top tourist attractions in Central Florida.”
The Lukas family started its agricultural endeavors on the current property in 1912 with row crops and shifted to ornamentals in the 1970s. The family business now sits on approximately 33 acres with fourth-generation leadership and a young fifth generation growing up at the garden center.
What does your 4,000-square-foot Butterfly Encounter, which has been a part of the business since 2004, offer?
Its unique experience looks to bring nature back into the lives of our children and family and spark a passion for outside butterfly and pollinator gardening. The Butterfly Encounter attraction has grown to be one of the top tourist attractions in Central Florida and is family friendly and affordable. We also serve numerous schools for tours/field trips.
One of the biggest highlights of the experience is that we offer an area that allows everyone to hold a butterfly on their very own fingertip! This intimate experience with nature is so unique and memorable for so many, especially kids.
We even offer an annual pass for our Butterfly Encounter so that folks that have enjoyed it so much can come back as many times as they would like. Also, a lot of photographers have enjoyed it as a way to create some cool shots of nature.
How does the Butterfly Encounter align with the goals of the IGC as a whole?
We very much promote pollinator gardening and engaging people to start a butterfly garden or any kind of pollinator garden in their own backyard.
Also, hand-in-hand, we’ve found a newer trend. We’ve experienced that Florida native plants are something the community is really passionate about. Beginning this year, we created a whole Florida native plant section in our nursery; it has, by far, been our largest section of sales growth of all of the different types of plants.
I also like to link the whole Florida-friendly landscaping because sometimes there are plants out there that have existed in the area for so long but aren’t necessarily the true definition of a native and are still just as environmentally friendly. In addition to educational opportunities and seminars, you’ve been doing a fall event for nearly 40 years.
Why is this important for the community?
People get to experience fall, and it sometimes can be hard to experience fall in Florida when it’s still 90 degrees. We feature hay rides that tour everybody around the nursery to see the operation from a growing side, and it’s just a fun, family-oriented event with various activities including a pumpkin patch, face painting, corn kernel pits — activities like that.
Meet the rest of the winners:
Thank you to this year’s Lawn & Garden Retailer Innovator Award sponsors: