Rhododendron Conservation and CollectionsLandscape plant breeding

In progress

Situation

Developing tough plants for human spaces.

Our Research

Whether in an old growth forest or an urban street, plants benefit our physical and mental well-beings and provide countless ecosystem services. Unfortunately, not all plants are well-adapted to human spaces, or they become less-adapted as our environment changes. Our group seeks to develop new plants for the spaces in which we interact with them most: our homes and our communities.

We improve plants through traditional plant breeding, a combination of hybridization and selection that allows us to combine traits of interest from plants across the world. We are most interested in adaptive traits, such as cold hardiness and disease resistance, which make otherwise attractive plants more suitable for the varying environments in which they are planted. We are also interested in improving the ornamental traits of otherwise adapted plants.

We conduct our breeding work at HF&G’s David G. Leach Research Station in Madison, OH. We have historically focused on rhododendrons, honoring David’s legacy and utilizing the vast collection of rhododendron hybrids at the station. We are also exploring other groups of plants, especially within the rhododendron family (Ericaceae), like evergreen azaleas (also in genus Rhododendron), doghobbles (Leucothoe), and andromeda (Pieris).

Keywords

Rhododendron, Ericaceae, ornamental, disease resistance, cold hardiness, climate change, garden, horticulture

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