Its here, its here!! Extended Hours have begun!

Hello Gardening Friends,

Cedar River Garden Center is open Monday-Friday 8:00-7:00, Saturday 8:00-6:00, and Sunday 10:00-5:00.

How does a garden center celebrate longer hours???  MORE PLANTS!! We are receiving trucks multiple days this week, and love being able to share the new items with you.  Cedar River Garden Center has a fresh shipment of succulents in, onion plants arriving mid-week, and nursery stock consistently arriving weekly.

If you have a specific question on availability, please call 319.851.2161.

See you soon,  Cedar River Garden Center


Milkweed, Monarchs & Caterpillars

Iowa is the center of the monarch butterfly’s breeding range. However, the monarch butterfly population has declined over the last decade, according to surveys on the butterfly’s overwintering habitat in Mexico. There are many possible reasons for the decline, including extreme drought and flooding in the U.S. Midwest, logging in Mexico where the monarchs roost and a decline in the milkweed habitat according to ISU’s Department of Entomology and Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management.Monarchs Milkweed

Monarchs depend on milkweed for laying their eggs and for caterpillar nutrition.  Adult monarchs also rely on nectar-producing plants for nutrition to fuel their cross-country flight in the fall.

Milkweed is the cornerstone of a successful butterfly garden and planting a mix of both native and non-invasive annuals will entice more monarchs to your garden gates. These varieties are utilized as both host plant for caterpillars and a nectar source for butterflies.

Tip: all milkweed varieties should be planted in groups of at least six plants. (This can be a mix of the varieties of milkweed.) Otherwise, there is a good chance your monarch caterpillars will run out of milkweed!

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca NGN) – is easily grown and can spread rapidly if seedpods are left to open. Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly larvae (caterpillars).

Information:  3-4 ft high (flower height 6-8:); 8-12 in wide; sun; dry soil conditions; flower color purple; bloom time – June – September; Zone 3-9.  They are drought tolerant, have fall color and fragrant flower. Deer resistant. Native Plant

The following information comes from Blank Park Zoo’s awesome program called Plant. Grow. Fly. 

Why Are We ConcernedPollinators are in decline due to a variety of reasons including global climate change, loss of habitat and feeding resources, and some modern agricultural practices. Butterflies, for instance, require large corridors of suitable habitat to navigate between nectar sources.  Our increasing rates of development and expanding networks of roads have presented them with formidable challenges. According to Monarch Watch, butterflies lose habitat areas equivalent to the size of Illinois every 16 years – that’s an average of 2.2 million acres lost per year.

Butterflies require not only connecting high quality swaths of habitat, but also specific types of plants that help them to feed and reproduce: nectar plants and host plants, respectively.  Each species of butterfly has specific sets of needs these plants must meet to be used. In Iowa, the majority of our butterflies need region-specific grassland plants. However, these plants are just as threatened as the butterflies they help: since European settlement, Iowa has lost more than 99.9% of its native tallgrass prairie. Iowa butterflies – and the habitats in which they live – need our help.

Host Plants:  Pussytoes (Antennaria), Asters (Symphyotrichum), False Indigo (Baptisia), Lupine (Lupinus), Milkweed (Asclepias), Native Grasses, Violets (Viola), New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus), Herbs-dill, fennel, curly parsley, Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Sunflowers (Helianthus), and Penstemon (Penstemon)

Nectar Plants:  Bee Balm (Monarda), Blazing Stars (Liatris), Coneflowers (Echinacea), Cosmos (Cosmos), Goldenrod (Solidago), Ironweed (Vernonia), Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium), Lantana (Lantana), Rugosa Rose (Rose rugose), and Zinnias (Zinnia)


Emerald Ash Borer

eab_leafAs you may be aware, Emerald Ash Borer is threatening millions of ash trees across the Midwest. These insects slowly kill ash trees by feeding on the tissue which transports water within the tree.  Since being found in Michigan in 2002, it has killed over 40 million ash trees. It has recently been seen in three counties in Iowa – Allamakee, Des Moines & Jefferson.

We have a preventative treatment for EAB and other pests. We carry Optrol, a product that provides protection for homeowners to actually treat their own trees. Optrol protects from a variety of pests. Click here for a full list. (Optrol is the same formulation as Xytect.)

Optrol works most effectively against EAB as a preventative treatment. Because infestations can go unnoticed for up to a couple of years, it’s recommended to start applying Optrol to your ash trees when an infestation has occurred within a 15 mile radius of your home.

However, if you know EAB has been found within a 15 mile radius, OR if ash trees around you are looking like their canopy (the top of the tree) is dying back (looking thin), apply Optrol immediately. It is absorbed fully into the tree within 30-60 days. Annual applicationsa re required for continued protection and those subsequent applications should be in the spring. If applications cease, the tree will become susceptible to the EAB.

Long before you notice the canopy of your tree dying back or any evidence of Emerald Ash Borer they will be busy at work in your trees. By the time you see the evidence in the tree canopy, it is usually too late, especially if it is over 30% of the canopy

It can be applied in spring or fall.  For some people it’s easier to remember in the spring when you are preparing the yard and gardens for planting. For others, it is easier to remember in the fall when the leaves need to be raked, the grass aerated, and it’s time to treat your tree with Optrol.

It is important to have the product IN THE TREE before the summer, or while the beetles are most active – this takes 30-60 days, so make sure to plan accordingly.  It is a once a year treatment. The amount depends on the circumference of the tree.  You measure the circumference at 4 1/2 feet from the base, or approximately chest high. Following the Dosing Table to determine the amount of Optrol and water you need.  Pull away any mulch at the base of the tree so the Optrol can go easily into the ground. Slowly pour the solution around the base of the tree. The Free Optrol “How-To Treatment Guide” is also available at Cedar River Garden Center.

Optrol can be used on shrubs, roses and flowers for other pests as well.  See the “Insecticide Options for Protecting Ash Trees from Emerald Ash Borer” for a guide from leading Midwest universities.

We used this on our trees this spring because the aphids were so hard on them last year and because we have an ash we want to keep.  We didn’t have any problems with aphids, Japanese Beetles or any other pests that we could see.  The trees remained healthy all season.

You can track the location updates of the EAB on the Iowa State University Extension link.