Major collections within the gardens are as follows:
- McMillan Greenhouse (4000 square feet) - five environments: American and African deserts; orchids, bromeliads, ferns, African violet relatives, and other tropical plants; Cymbidium and Dendrobium orchids; carnivorous pitcher plants, sundews, and Venus Flytraps native to the southeastern United States; tropical regions of both the Old and New Worlds.
- Carnivorous Plants - including an extensive collection of Sarracenia
- Orchids - collection includes Brassavola, Bulbophyllum, Catasetum, Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Epidendrum, Phragmipedium, Peristeria, and Phalaenopsis.
- Ralph Van Landingham Glen - Begun in 1966, the Glen now contains a major collection (3500 plants) of rhododendron and azalea shrubs, as well as more than 900 species of indigenous trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, and more than 50 species of wild ferns.
- Susie Harwood Garden (3 acres) - collections of dwarf conifers, Japanese maples, viburnum, and azaleas, plus other trees, shrubs, vines, annuals, perennials, bulbs, succulents, and water plants from around the world, with an Asian-style gazebo, arched bridges, and a moon gate.
- Dinosaur's Garden - primitive plants surrounding a full-size Deinonychus skeleton sculpture.
The Botanical Gardens also serve as the final resting place of UNC Charlotte founder Bonnie Cone.