Plant, Insect, and Natural Exploration

As a unit of Iowa State University, one of Reiman Gardens' core purposes is to encourage plant and insect exploration that furthers general knowledge and offers the public valuable opportunities for hands-on, scientific inquiry.

Research and Partnerships

All-American Selections logo

Reiman Gardens plays an important role as a partner and site location for the All-American Selections (AAS) trials. These trials are dedicated to the promotion of great annual flowers and vegetables. AAS test sites evaluate new plants that may eventually be named as a prestigious AAS winner. As plants in our AAS trial beds grow, our horticulturists evaluate plant performance and report their findings to the AAS.

You can volunteer to help in our AAS trial gardens.


American Rose Trials Smaller Logo

Reiman Gardens has a rich history of promoting the care and culture of roses. This tradition started when the All-American Rose Selections (AARS) trials were moved to the garden from the Iowa State University Horticulture Farm. For over ten years, the AARS trial and winning roses were a popular draw of the Trial Gardens. This program ended in 2013 due to a restructuring of AARS, leaving a void in the Reiman Gardens Trial Garden.

Today, Reiman Gardens partners with the American Rose Trials for Sustainability (ARTS) to evaluate new introductions for pest and disease resistance, winter hardiness, and abundance of flowers while providing a no-spray, no fertilizer, low-input environment. ARTS works with 24 universities, Botanic Gardens, and municipalities throughout the continental United States to evaluate the roses in different climate regions. To see the winners for Iowa’s Climate Region, click here.

Project BudBurst logo

Project BudBurst is a national field campaign designed to engage the public to collect important ecological data such as the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants, traits that are called plant phenophases. The data is collected from participants across the country and used to help scientists learn more about the responsiveness of individual plant species to changes in climate.


Sils & Smokestacks logo

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area is one of 49 federally designated National Heritage Areas in the United States and is an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service. SSNHA's mission is to interpret farm life, agribusiness, and rural communities, past and present. Reiman Gardens is a Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area partner. 

Reiman Gardens is a member of the American Public Gardens Association. APGA is the leading professional organization for the field of public horticulture, connecting over 600 member institutions across 14 countries.

For Iowa State University classes, clubs, and students

For faculty, staff and students looking for class a project, the Gardens is a unique laboratory open to all. Contact us at or (515) 294-2710.

Here are a few Iowa State University class projects which partnered with Reiman Gardens:

  • Insect costumes created by a design and materials class and worn by dance students.
  • A VEISHEA float created by an Industrial Design class.
  • A Rube Goldberg machine designed and installed in the Conservatory by a College of Design Toy Studio.
  • Planting bulbs by horticulture students.
  • Water features investigated by water resource students.
  • Marketing classes that study attendance and visitation patterns.
  • Photography classes using the Gardens for insect and floral pictures.
  • Architecture classes exploring the different styles of modern and classical designs in the Gardens’ buildings.
  • Computer Science and Computer and Software Engineering projects which created an interactive database for ongoing volunteer projects and event management.

Students have participated in many research projects conducted at the Gardens, including the development of captive rearing protocols for butterflies and moths, the study of butterfly development rates, the documentation of host plant preferences, and the control of insect populations using artificial nests.

Reiman Gardens accepts proposals from Iowa State University students for research to be tested at the Gardens.

Iowa State University classes, clubs, fraternities, sororities, philanthropy groups, and learning communities are invited to visit the gardens. Iowa State University students receive free admission. Groups and ISU students can

  • Arrange a tour.
  • Reserve a room; there’s no rental charge for Iowa State University student class use.
  • Work on a laboratory project.
  • Help with pruning, planting and weeding.
  • Use the Gardens for an integrated studio project site.
  • Volunteer for class credit.
  • Be creatively inspired.
  • Explore wildlife.
  • Study or relax in a calming, beautiful environment.

Use our indoor classroom complete with AV equipment such as projectors, etc. with no additional charges. Faculty, staff and students are welcomed to use the Gardens for class work, exploration and more. The Gardens’ staff will work to help you create meaningful projects and learning experiences. Contact Reiman Gardens to discuss the possibilities.

Clubs, fraternities or sororities can volunteer, visit or contact us. We’ll work with you to make sure your visit is interesting, education and fun. The Gardens even allows some limited club fundraising if it is related to gardening. Contact us to talk about all the possibilities.

For faculty, staff and students looking to get involved, the Gardens is a unique laboratory open to all. Contact us at or (515) 294-2710.

Local Tourism, Education, and Gardening Resources


  • Reiman Gardens is studying new technology to save energy including the possible use of green roofs, geothermal, wind and solar energy sources, zero food waste dining options, and responsible storm water retention and disposal practices.
  • Reiman Gardens uses integrated pest management protocols that use cultural (changes in plant practices), mechanical (manual removal), and biological (other insects) measures of controlling pests and diseases before resorting to chemical treatments.
  •  Visit Reiman Gardens soon to learn more about sustainable practices used on site which you can bring home such as composting, rain gardens and rain barrels. Visit Rainbird to learn more about sustainable water practices in your home garden. It is also important to select low irrigation, native plant species for your home garden.