This webpage is a service for anyone interested in ornamental tropical foliage plant varieties developed at the the University of Florida - Mid-Florida Research and Education Center.
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A Foliage plant breeding program was established in 1976 at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida. Known then as the “Ridge Lab” or the “Apopka Research Center”, the program’s purpose was to serve Florida Foliage Growers by creating, testing and introducing new ornamental foliage plant cultivars.

Professor Jake Henny came from the University of Minnesota to become the plant breeder and geneticist. His first challenge was to collect germplasm for breeding stock. With the help of plant societies throughout Florida, private plant collectors and two expeditions to the tropics, he accumulated sufficient plant material to get started.

Professor Henny began with the plant family Araceae since these dominate the top ten best selling foliage plants world-wide year after year. His goals were to find novel foliage patterns, improve disease resistance and ensure plants could withstand commercial production stresses and thrive in homeowner or commercial interiorscape environments.

The next challenge was to produce flowers that could be cross pollinated. Control of flowering was achieved using growth regulators. (Please visit EDIS links for breeding Aglaonema and for breeding Spathiphyllum for details) Seed production, pollen storage and seed germination were studied in depth to ensure success.

mature bright red seeds on DieffenbachiaSpathiphyllum pollen

Aglaonema flower
Figure 1.  Photos above (left to right) showing mature bright red seeds on Dieffenbachia, Spathiphyllum pollen and an Aglaonema flower.

The breakthrough success was Dieffenbachia ‘Triumph’ released in 1986. The 29 releases from Professor Henny are shown in the following table:
Table 1.   Foliage Plant cultivars released from the MREC foliage breeding program.


Genus

Cultivar Name

Release Date

Dieffenbachia

Triumph

1986

Dieffenbachia

Victory

1986

Anthurium

Southern Blush

1987

Aglaonema

Stripes

1987

Dieffenbachia

Tropic Star

1987

Dieffenbachia

Starry Nights

1991

Dieffenbachia

Star White

1992

Aglaonema

Flamingo

1992

Aglaonema

Silver Bay

1992

Dieffenbachia

Sparkles

1993

Dieffenbachia

Star Bright

1993

Anthurium

Red Hot

1995

Aglaonema

Golden Bay

1999

Anthurium

Show Biz

1999

Aglaonema

Emerald Bay

2001

Anthurium

Orange Hot

2001

Aglaonema

Diamond Bay

2001

Dieffenbachia

Sterling

2002

Dieffenbachia

Tropic Honey

2002

Anthurium

Athena

2002

Anthurium

Bronze Beauty

2002

Aglaonema

Moonlight Bay

2002

Dieffenbachia

GoldRush

2002

Aglaonema

Mondo Bay

2008

Aglaonema

Leprechaun

2008

Aglaonema

Key Lime

2008

Epipremnum

Pearls and Jade

2008

Epipremnum

Green Genie

2008

Philodendron

Frilly Philly

2008

 

In 2009, this Professor’s Pride website was launched to bring consumers and growers access to Professor Henny’s best information for growing the newest cultivars in home or greenhouse environments. Serving your green universe is our commitment to this day.

Professor Henny and his team maintain ongoing research into hybrid production, hybrid sterility and embryo rescue techniques. Plant tissue culture methods are routinely used to rescue embryos from wide crosses, induce polyploidy in sterile hybrids and to propagate desirable hybrids.

Current tissue culture studies also include developing somatic embryogenesis systems in several tropical plant genera to produce efficient propagation systems. This tissue culture technique can also be a source of new mutations that can be selected as new cultivars. These studies are conducted in conjunction with mutation induction treatments used in genera that cannot be hybridized.

Dieffenbachia and Pothos selections in testing
Figure 2.  A view inside Professor Henny’s foliage breeding research greenhouse showing Dieffenbachia and Pothos selections in testing.

 

   
     

 

Copyright 2009