Master Gardener Program

The Master Gardener Program trains garden enthusiasts to learn, grow, and teach others about plants and gardening in the home landscape. Participants receive 40 hours of training via webcasting, face-to-face, and hands-on workshops, while interacting with others of similar interests. After completing their training, Master Gardener Interns volunteer 40 hours of service in county approved projects related to gardening education to become active Master Gardeners. To maintain active status, Master Gardeners must attend at least 10 hours of county approved continuing education and volunteer at least 20 hours of service on county approved projects.

2023 Spring Plant Sale!

Join us for the Linn County Master Gardeners annual plant sale! The Charlene Woeste Memorial Plant Sale will be held on Friday May 12 and Saturday May 13. This year at a brand new location - Lowe Park Arts and Environment Center in Marion. 

Shop for thousands of quality plants and chat with a Master Gardener. You'll leave with everything you need for a successful gardening season!

Learn more!

2023 Library Talks!

Join us on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm for free educational presentations by our knowledgeable Master Gardeners! Locations alternate between various public libraries throughout Linn County.


Mt. Vernon Public Library
620 3rd Street SW, Mt. Vernon, Iowa

March 7: Fruit Trees (Maeghan MacDougall)
March 14: Don’t Kill that Weed! Eat It! (Trilby Sedlacek & Paula Mitchell)
March 21: Climbing Color: Clematis in the Garden (Wanda Lunn)
March 28: Gentle Yoga for Gardeners (Diane Wiesenfeld)

Coggon Public Library
202 E. Main Street, Coggon, Iowa

March 7: Moving on Out!Gear up for Bringing Plants Outdoors (Carol Elliott)
March 14: Choosing Plants for Containers (Lyn Tormey)
March 21: Seed Starting at Home (Phil Pfister)
March 28: New and Interesting Perennials! (Deb Walser)

Ely Public Library
1595 Dows Street, Ely, Iowa

March 7:  Growing Herbs (Trilby Sedlacek & Paula Mitchell)
March 14: Heirloom Veggies and Flowers (Maeghan MacDougall)
March 21: Micro Prairie Gardening! (Linda Hinzman)
March 28: Butterflies of Iowa (Angel Burns)

Central City Public Library
137 N. 4th Street, Central City

March 2: New and Interesting Perennials! (Deb Walser)
March 9: Pollinator Magnets-Flower Gardens (Wanda Lunn)
March 16: Heavenly Hydrangeas (Wil Carew)
March 23: Container Gardening for Cheap (Linda Hinzman)
March 30: Seed Starting at Home (Phil Pfister)

Fairfax Public Library
313 Vanderbilt Street, Fairfax, Iowa

March 2: Vegetable Gardening 101 (Emmaly Renshaw)
March 9: Viva Viburnum (Wil Carew)
March 16: Gardening Friends and Foes! (Heather Robertson)
March 23: Beautiful Peonies (Wanda Lunn)
March 30: Victory Gardens-Then and Now (Beula Dvorak)


Marion Public Library
1101 6th Avenue, Marion, Iowa

April 6: Bird Friendly Gardens and Landscaping (Deb Walser)
April 13: Tree Selection and Maintenance (Mike Anderson)
April 20: Food Insecurity—How We Can Help (Beula Dvorak)
April 27: Container Vegetable Gardening (Phil Pfister)

Center Point Public Library
720 Main Street, Center Point, Iowa

April 6: Herbs for the Butterflies (Linda Hinzman)
April 13: Raised Beds Square Foot Gardening (Deb Walser)
April 20: Build, Then Grow a Hoophouse (Phil Pfister)
April 27: Redefining Your Lawn! (Karla McGrail)

Springville Public Library
264 Broadway Street, Springville, Iowa

April 6: Plants of the Bible (Beula Dvorak)
April 13: Cactus and Succulents (Sam Harrington)
April 20: Living with Bambi (Karla McGrail)
April 27: New and Interesting Perennials (Deb Walser)


How to Become a Master Gardener

Applications open in the spring with a deadline of July 1.

If you'd like us to notify you when applications open again, please email

This year the application and training are being completed online. 

Application Details

Who are Master Gardeners?

Master Gardeners are community members from a wide variety of backgrounds. They are passionate about serving their communities and sharing gardening best practices. They have taken the Master Gardener training and share their time and expertise as volunteers in community gardens, city beautification projects, and farmers markets to name only a few areas. They love to share their knowledge and give back to the community as volunteers. Any resident of Linn County is invited to apply to become a Master Gardener.

What happens after the training?

After you complete your training, you'll volunteer in the community at approved Master Gardener projects throughout the county. You'll need to complete 40 hours of volunteering by December 31 of the year following the completion of your training. Projects include working in community gardens with community volunteers, administrative work, answering questions from the public, assisting at our plant sale--there are many different opportunities available.

Thereafter, you'll remain active by attending ten or more hours of continuing education and contributing 20 hours or more of volunteer community service.

Not interested in volunteering?

Register for the core course as a Pro-Hort trainee ($550 fee) and receive a certificate upon completion of the course.

If you have any questions, call the Extension Office at 319.377.9838.

Request a Master Gardener Speaker

The Linn County Master Gardeners’ Speakers Bureau was founded to educate groups and organizations on a variety of horticulture topics.  The Master Gardeners’ presentations are given free of charge.

Linn County Master Gardeners are a dedicated group of volunteers, who have completed training from Iowa State University and are willing to share their horticulture knowledge with others in the community.

How can you request that a Master Gardener come and speak to your organization? 

To request a Master Gardener to come and speak to your group, fill out and email the request form (Microsoft Word Document); call Linn County Extension at 319.377.9839; or Email Us!

The Linn County Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau topics include:

  • All About Bulbs
  • Annual Flowers
  • Ash Tree Alternatives
  • Birds/Bird Gardening
  • Blueberries
  • Butterflies/Butterfly Gardens
  • Care of Garden Tools
  • Common Garden Insects and Diseases
  • Composting/Vermiculture
  • Conifers for the Garden
  • Coral Bells
  • Cover Crops
  • Culinary Herbs to Grow in Iowa
  • Daylilies
  • Drought Information (Water Conservation) for the Garden
  • Dwarf Conifers
  • Earth-friendly Lawn Care
  • Everything Coleus/ Fabulous Foliage
  • Fairy Garden
  • Flower Container Gardening
  • Forcing Bulbs
  • Garden Fall Clean Up/Putting your Garden to Sleep
  • Garden/From Earth to Table
  • Gardening with Children
  • Growing & Arranging Your Own Bouquets
  • Hardy Bulbs
  • Heavenly Hydrangeas
  • Hostas
  • Houseplants
  • Iowa Fruits
  • Kinetic Garden Ornaments
  • Lilies (Asiatic, Oriental)
  • Living with Bambi
  • Native plant gardening
  • New Generation Vegetable Garden/From Earth to Table
  • Ornamental Grasses
  • Outstanding Shrubs for the Midwest Home Garden
  • Peonies
  • Perennials
  • Plants of the Bible
  • Plants Which Have Affected our History
  • Pleasing the Bees and Butterflies: Planting for Pollinators
  • Ponds and Water Features
  • Prairie Grass
  • Questions & Answers
  • Rain Barrels
  • Rain Gardens
  • Raised Beds
  • Shrub Care
  • Select, Plant, Tend, Harvest and Enjoy Small Fruits
  • Starting Garden Transplants
  • Shade Plants
  • Tasty and Tasteful Landscape
  • The Language of Flower
  • The Monet Garden
  • Thinking about a Home Greenhouse?
  • Tree Selection and Pruning
  • Tree Care and Maintenance
  • Vegetable Container Gardening
  • Water Gardening
  • Water in the Garden
  • Wildlife Habitat
  • Winter Containers
  • Winter Gardens
  • Woodland Flowers
  • Yard Art
  • and more!
Master Gardener Hortline

We answer horticulture questions in an unbiased, research-based manner.

The Linn County Master Gardener Hortline is a free service.

Hortline (319) 447-0647

Summer Hortline hours:  March 1st - Oct 31st

  • Monday-Thursday 9:00am-Noon and 1:00pm-4:00pm
  • Friday 9:00-12:00

Winter Hortline hours:  Nov 1st - Feb 28th/29th

  • Monday-Friday 10:00-12:00

You can also email the Master Gardeners at

In addition, ISU has resources that can help you at the Horticulture and Home Pest News website. You'll find frequently asked questions, newsletter, links to publications, and dozens of videos on a wide range of topics. Check it out!

Information for Current Master Gardeners and Interns

Master Gardener Policies and Procedures

Master Gardener Projects and Chairs

Template for Presentations 

Master Gardener Service Hours 

All Master Gardeners MUST enter their service hours in the online ISU VRS System. Your user name is your first initial and your complete last name.

For Example:

  • Jane Doe, username is JDoe
  • The password is: lamg@rdener
  • They are both case sensitive.
  • Once in the system, please change your password by going to the profile tab.
  • Sign-in to the ISU VRS System

Articles for the Gazette

Please consider writing short (500 word) articles using research-based information about gardening. They can be on a variety of topics (see suggestions below). Please add some references to ISU publications. The coordinator puts together a Q&A article based on Hortline calls, but other articles are also welcome.

You can choose a timely topic such as:
  • buying bulbs that you plant in the fall for spring flowers
  • what to look for at a particular time of year or season such as wasps or Japanese beetles
  • when to prune shrubs and trees
Topics that interest beginning gardeners:
  • how to amend the soil and why you want to do so
  • what you can grow on a patio or deck
  • how to interest children in gardening

The following topics have been discussed recently:

  • July garden maintenance
  • Keeping your garden "fresh" in the dog days of summer
  • Weed management
  • Mystery seeds being sent to people and what to do
  • August gardening maintenance
  • Growing Japanese maple trees
  • Donation gardens
  • The Garden as Classroom (getting kids interested in gardening)
  • Frugal garden ideas (for containers and pots
Continuing Education Opportunities

Every year, Master Gardeners participate in 10 hours of continuing education (CE). The purpose is to advance the Master Gardener’s knowledge and understanding of horticulture.

How do I know if an opportunity qualifies for CE credit?

To be counted as CE hours, the classes must be factual, accurate, and provided by a source recognized as research based. Most training opportunities offered by educational institutions, public gardens, and education-focused gardening organizations meet this requirement. Sessions offered by entertainers, mass media, and sales people are less likely to do so. Listening to radio programs, watching television programs, and reading books do not count as continuing

CE Opportunities

Spring Plant Sale: May 12 - 13, 2023

Linn County Master Gardeners Annual Spring Plant Sale takes place at the Lowe Park Arts and Environment Center, 4500 N 10th Street, Marion, IA 52302, 5:00 - 7:00pm Friday and 8:00am - noon on Saturday.

High-quality annuals, perennials, native plants, houseplants, vegetables and herbs are available for purchase. The plants are grown by Linn County Master Gardeners in their gardens and at Lowe Park Greenhouse. Proceeds from the plant sale go back to the Linn County Master Gardener Program to support educational outreach efforts.