Dr. Gary W. Knox
Evaluation of new or improved plants for the nursery and landscape industries
The introduction of new plant material, whether through traditional breeding programs or plant discovery, is an integral part of the current Green Industry and gardening trends. Unfortunately, some releases are not widely tested and most have not been independently evaluated in unbiased trials. I cooperate with regional and area nurseries, botanic gardens, State botanists, University horticulturists, and plant enthusiasts to collect plants for evaluation in north Florida and the greater Gulf Coast.
Overall goals of the plant evaluation program are to introduce and promote plants that minimize potential impacts from diseases, pests and invasive plants, and improve the quality and diversity of plant material for the Green Industry and Florida gardeners. General objectives are to:
a) Identify, collect and screen taxa of interest to the Green Industry and gardening public with an emphasis on new, underused, improved or (for non-natives) non-invasive selections.
b) Provide outreach/teaching using Gardens of the Big Bend and other plantings as mechanisms and sources of data for Extension programs given to youth, students, the Green Industry and gardening public. My outreach/teaching annually reaches more than 1,000 individuals through invited and in-house presentations.
c) Promote and distribute taxa of new, underused, improved, rare or noninvasive landscape plants.
Nursery production and management focusing on sustainability and IPM
I collaborate with horticulturists, plant pathologists and entomologists across the southeastern U.S. in the Southern Nursery IPM Working Group. This group seeks funding, conducts research and produces IPM Extension training and resource materials for nursery growers. Other Extension efforts involve collaboration with county Extension faculty and faculty from Florida universities to provide Extension programming and assistance to stakeholders in the nursery/landscape industries as well as consumers. Extension activities include websites, blogs, field days, workshops, seminars, lectures, field visits and demonstration projects as well as electronic, trade journal and newsletter publications. Furthermore, I provide leadership in training county faculty in the areas of invasive plants (focusing on invasive ornamentals) and new plants for Florida nurseries and landscapes.