Chenshan Botanical Garden focuses on collection and display of native plants of East China, but aims for collection of 30,000 plants in the long run. 10,000 featured (including varieties) plant species have been collected so far.

Since 2005, Chenshan Botanical Garden has assigned collection teams around the world, who have collected varieties of plants of economic, scientific and gardening values, including Magnoliaceae, Roseceae, Cerasus, Malus, Iris, aquatic plants, xerophilous plants, herb plants, economic plants, rare and endangering plants, and other plants of special family or genus, specific categorized plants or greenhouse plants. All plants are maintained in a scientific way and records of maintenance are made.

Among others, collection of unique plants of island is one of characteristics of Chenshan Botanical Garden. The unique plants of island collected so far include Cinnamomum japonicum, Neolitsea sericea, Carpinus putoensis, Vitex rotundifolia and so on, which are either plant species worthy of protection or scenic wild species.

Chenshan Botanical Garden has its distinct varieties of trees, e.g. Ormosia hosiei, Acer yangjuechi, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, Calycanthus chinensis, Taxus wallichiana var. mairei , Hamamelis mollis, Tapiscia sinensis, Pseudolarix amabilis, Bretschneidera sinensis, Nyssa sinensis and Fokienia hodginsii. 

Rare and Endangered Plants
Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden is a research institute aims to collect, protect and display of plant resources. The garden has successfully introduced 421 species of rare and endangered plants, and more than 200 species are opened to visitors. Among them, Glyptostrobus pensilis, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Calycanthus chinensis, Sinojackia xylocarpa, Heptacodium miconioides, Yulania amoena, Acer griseum, Gleditsia japonica var. velutina, Carpinus putoensis are endemic to China.

The garden houses over 57 species of Salvia which originates from over twenty-one different regions across China including Anhui, Beijing, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Chongqing, Jiangxi, Shandong, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Xizang and Yunnan. Some of them are endemic plants, such as Salvia meiliensis, S. yunnanensis, S. prattii and S. sonchifolia.

The genus of Iris is also well represented within the garden. Over 40 species and 600 varieties from Japan, the United States, Holland, China, etc. are housed, such as Pogon Irises, Japanese Irises, Louisiana Irises, Siberica Irises can be easily spotted throughout the garden. Rare species including Iris ‘Hawaiian Halo', Iris ensata ‘Tyouseiden', Iris ‘Destiny's Call', Iris ‘Silver Edge' etc. are collected.

Tree Peonies
As of 2016, the garden has also accumulated a collection of over 20 species and 100 varieties of Tree Peony from Gansu, Shanxi, Yunnan, Henan, Shandong, Sichuan, Anhui and Hunan etc., with the largest collection consisting of endangered wild peony, traditional ornamental peony and peony harvested for oils.

The garden houses prize winning varieties of Hydrangea including Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle, H. macrophylla ‘Bluebird’, H. quercifolia ‘Brido’ in total, over 105 species and varieties of Hydrangea from Japan, China, and North America etc., with a focus on 6 domesticated strains including H. macrophylla , H. paniculata, and H. quercifolia.

The garden has over 87 species of Sect. Paeonia from Eastern Asia, Europe and North America etc.,and with the largest collection of Chinese herbaceous peony, European herbaceous peony, and herbaceous peony hybrids. Among them, Paeonia 'Pink Hawaiian Coral', Paeonia 'Paula Fay', Paeonia lactiflora 'Charles' White', Paeonia tenuifolia'Lithophila' are regarded as rare and unique.

The garden has a collection of over 30 species and 800 varieties of domesticated roses from both China and abroad including varieties from Britain and France . Wild roses, ancient roses and hybrid rose trees can be spotted throughout the garden. Unique varieties include the self feritilizing hyrbrid, English Rose, Ancient Rose, and German Rose.

As a world lotus registration center, the garden also houses one of the largest collections of lotus plants in the world. Over 700 specimens from China, United States, Thailand, and Vietnam including Nelumbo lutea, wild populations of Asian lotus and other rare varieties such as Nelumbo ‘Qian Ban’, Nelumbo ‘Zhongshan Hongtai’,Nelumbo ‘Zhizun Qianban’, Nelumbo ‘Hong Tai’, Nelumbo ‘Yi Jian’.

Water Lilies
Up to now, the garden has also introduced 13 species and over 200 varieties of Nymphaea with 5 subgenus of Anecphya, Brachyceras, Hydrocallis, Lotos and Nymphaeahailing from Thailand, Japan,Taiwan and the USA. Several rare varieties such as Carla’s sunshine, King of Siam can be spotted throughout the garden.

Here about orchid and conservation. Research from orchid plant germplasm innovation and sustainability to conservation genetics has been extensively conducted. As a result, the garden has a large collection of over 13,000 Orchids with over 850 species.

The garden is also the home to 23 families, 80 genus, 450 species, and 30 varieties of fern from Hunan, Guangxi, Yunnan, Guangdong and other provinces in China. Some of the ferns housed in the botanical garden include rare and endangered species that have adaptively started growing in Shanghai, Tropic, and Subtropic zones. Unique specimens include Asplenium komarovii, Pyrrosia polydactylos, Pyrrosia longifolia, and Isoëtes sinensis.

Another extensive collection within the botanical gardens is the 28 genus, 384 species, 574 varieties of the Bromeliaceae family hailing from the United States, Ecuador and Peru. Bromeliads on display mainly include Aechmea, Neoregelia, and Tillandsia.
Among them, the Vriesea imperialis, A. biflora, T.grandis, and T. harrisii are rare and unique varieties.

Succulent plants
One of the largest collections in the garden is the collection of succulent plants with 42 families, 292 genus, 1,935 species and 958 varieties from the US, Eastern Africa, Japan and Thailand are on display. Unique varieties such as Welwitschia mirabilis,Carnegiea gigantae, Dioscorea elephantipes, and Lophora wiliamsii can be spotted throughout the garden.