The past and future of Hungarian annual and perennial ornamental plant breeding

S. Kisvarga, D. Farkas, L. Orlóci
The golden age of the breeding of Hungarian annual ornamental plants began in the middle of the 20th century. Dr. Zoltán Kováts bred more than 120 annual and perennial cultivars, which are still known in international trade. In recent decades, however, climate change has become so great that it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain annual and perennial ornamentals and old-bred cultivars. Many environmental stresses, including drought, are very severe and difficult to control, as well as the constant emergence of new pests. In the Hungarian continental climate, the effects can be felt even more strongly. Earlier cultivars are not suitable to survive the changed conditions healthy. This requires a high degree of plant protection, continuous irrigation in both public areas and home gardens, which is not an environmentally friendly technology. The time has come to start breeding annual and perennial ornamental plants that are resistant to altered environmental influences. Perhaps it is best to reach out to a gene center on this topic that still has a high degree of resistance to abiotic stress. We have been working at the Hungarian University of Agricultural and Life Sciences for several years in the open field and greenhouse conditions. There are also several classic and modern breeding methods and technologies in ornamental plant breeding that might help to achieve this goal. We are developing a number of environmentally friendly seedling enhancement technologies (with biostimulators and thigmomorphogenesis) as well as positive and negative selection and gamma irradiation technologies. Our goal is to produce new, climate-tolerant ornamental plant cultivars of Ocimum basilicum, Ricinus communis, Rudbeckia hirta and Festuca sp. The more than 100 Hungarian cultivars of our institute offer many opportunities for this task, in addition to placing great emphasis on the in situ preservation of the old cultivars.
Kisvarga, S., Farkas, D. and Orlóci, L. (2023). The past and future of Hungarian annual and perennial ornamental plant breeding. Acta Hortic. 1368, 281-290
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2023.1368.36
heritage cultivars, gene bank, ornamental plant history, seed cultivation, Alcea, Callistephus, Rudbeckia

Acta Horticulturae