The UNI Botanical Center is home to a diverse collection of plants which are beautifully displayed inside each greenhouse including a cactus, tropical, orchid, two project houses, aquatic and propagation house. Come explore a wide variety of plant species – including some rare species and plants that wouldn’t normally survive in the northern Iowa climate.
Curated display gardens surround the Botanical Center where visitors can find the hosta, daylily and peony collection. Visit often to see the unusual selections from the annual plant sale trialed throughout the gardens.
Guests are always welcome to explore the Botanical Center greenhouses on Monday through Friday** from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The outdoor display gardens are always open for a stroll.
**Visiting hours change to reflect the UNI academic calendar during breaks and holidays as well as some required Friday closures. Call 319-273-2247 for up to the minute visiting hours.
Built in 1938, this house boasts the most space with high 20' ceilings accommodating an established rainforest canopy. Economically valuable plants include towering bamboo & sugar cane and fruiting banana & papaya on display along with two pet parrots, Colombo and Chiquita. Lush Ficus trees planted in the ground create a vignette with palms, bird of paradise and gingers treating visitors to a tropical getaway in the middle of Iowa.
An extensive collection of arid plants demonstrate characteristics unique to desert ecosystems. Many of these drought-adapted plants prominently display succulent leaves, spiny stems, or tuberous roots. Guests will find succulents such as Sansevieria, Crassula and Echeveria displayed on one side of the room and cactus including Mammillaria, Opuntia and Cereus on the other. A dynamic display of in-ground desert plants are found in the center for you to walk through. Many visitors say this is their favorite room to sit and soak up the sunshine on cold winter days!
Koi and Gold Fish greet you in the 1000 gallon pond with waterfall. Native and tropical aquatic plants are displayed amidst this setting. Look carefully for the carnivorous plant bog around the corner- be sure to find the Venus fly traps and pitcher plants enjoying a buggy treat!
This south facing house is filled with sunshine and a rainbow of flowering plants. Visitors are welcome to pinch and sniff the herb and scented geranium collection for a total sensory experience! Other collections found here are Coleus, Peperomia, Citrus and a variety of interesting fruiting plants.
Exterior Display Gardens
Seasonal bulb displays, spring ephemerals & annual colors saturate the perennial landscape surrounding the greenhouses. Using plants from the interior collection Botanical Center staff curate, design & grow these outdoor gardens, enhancing campus with a tropical twist.
What's in bloom
What's in bloom: Orchid Cactus
Big, cup-shaped blooms in gorgeous colors make orchid cactus a joy to grow. Orchid cactus stems are broad and flat with serrated edges. They'll grow to 2 ft (60 cm) long, and about 2 in (5 cm) wide. Not very showy, but you can count on them to burst into bloom every spring.