New Ornamental Plants
Consumers are interested in environmental stewardship and want the latest and greatest plants with larger flowers, disease and insect tolerance, improved drought tolerance, and other economic traits. The University of Georgia Department of Horticulture is unique in helping the green industry by developing new selections for consumers. Over the past several years, a UGA horticulturist has initiated an ornamental plant breeding program focusing on sustainability to address the industry's needs. Traditional breeding, as well as novel techniques, are used to create new plants. So far, his program has released 23 cultivars. Bringing new cultivars to market increases the profitability and productivity of the ornamental horticulture industry. Twelve of these selections have U.S. Plant Patents, while others are in the process of being patented. Licenses are also being developed for Canada and the EU. The scientist has trialing agreements for over 150 ornamental plant selections with many prominent nursery marketing programs in the United States and Europe. Two successful plant brands started from this research are the Aim High™ Hollies and Head Over Heels® Hibiscus. Of the cultivars currently on the market, estimated sales in 2020 were over 250,000 units. This research has had a calculated industry (wholesale, retail, and landscape) impact of over $18 million.