Like many public sites in Frankfurt, it was privately financed and implemented by the architect Heinrich Siesmayer. Work was completed in 1871 and opened to the public. One colorful visit was from the American entertainer Buffalo Bill who brought his Western show in 1890. In 1931, it was taken over by the city of Frankfurt but was later transferred to the American occupation authorities after World War II. When the Palmengarten was returned to the city's hands in the sixties, a major reconstruction effort was begun. Halls destroyed in the war were redeveloped and expanded. In 1992 the reconstruction finished completely and the Palmengarten shined in its new form.
The botanical exhibits are organized according to their origin in free-air or climatized greenhouses, which also contain numerous tropical and subtropical plants.