2/26/12 - Lady Astor Roses should be planted around Danville this spring.
â€œThese are probably one of the most fragrant roses Iâ€™ve smelled in a long time,â€� ISRR Director Barry Flinn told about 50 attendees
Plant center growing at Danville's Institute
February 23, 2012
Lady Astor Roses should be planted around Danville this spring.
â€œThese are probably one of the most fragrant roses Iâ€™ve smelled in a long time,â€� ISRR Director Barry Flinn told about 50 attendees of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerceâ€™s Business at Breakfast on Wednesday morning.
The rose and other ornamental plants are being delivered to growers thanks to efforts to multiply plants at the Dan River Plant Propagation Center based on research at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.
Thatâ€™s one way the Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources is using plant biology, breeding and engineering to help economic development in Southern Virginia, Flinn said. The high-dollar horticulture and forestry crop development began in 2005 in collaboration with Virginia Nursery and Landscape Associationâ€™s â€œBeautiful Gardensâ€� program.
Such efforts resulted in the popular new triploid daylily called the â€œVT Spiritâ€� and more than 50 triploid lines, Flinn added. Scientists are also working on daylilies with school colors for North Carolina State University, James Madison University and Duke University.
The state landscape association has also received 4,000 plants â€” two types of azalea and rhododendron â€” that were propagated by the center and grown in Blacksburg, said propagation center director Kedong Da. The center houses 30,000 â€œVT Spiritâ€� triploid daylilies in test tubes and 15,000 in peat moss soil, which will be delivered to Growing Virginia in Brosville to grow.
The center delivered more than 300 hellebores, an evergreen flowering plant that blooms from January to June, to Pine Knot Farms in Clarksville. Pine Knot will grow them for another year before theyâ€™re sold to nurseries, owner Dick Tyler said.
The plant species originated in central Europe, but many hybrids have developed since then. Tyler bred hellebores for specific colors, but knowing what color the plant will be is unpredictable from its seed. Having the Institute clone the hellebores ensures Tyler knows what color the plant will be for better marketing and sales.
So far, the clone numbers have been small, compared to Pine Knotâ€™s annual production of 300,000 hellebores, but Tyler is hopeful.
â€œWe know more about growing the plant but they know more about the lab part of it so weâ€™re working together to get this worked out,â€� Tyler said.
Additionally, Institute scientists continue to study crops like switchgrass, miscanthus and Jerusalem artichoke for bioenergy feedstocks. Scientists are also working with an Illinois-based company on pennycress, which has an oil seed similar to canola, that could be used in diesel and jet fuel.
Currently, Flinn is looking for farmers who would like to experiment with Arundo donax, or giant reed, in collaboration with Chemtex, a global chemical, engineering and technology company. The Institute is working with Chemtex on large-scale production of the grass and improving its yield, but the company would like to see how well it grows in the region.
Institute researchers are also trying to find ways to use the leftovers from plants used in bioenergy production to use in films and fibers, like for edible packaging, as a way to bring greater revenue to farmers for growing the crop, Flinn added.
Lastly, the Institute believes itâ€™s identified a type of beneficial bacteria that boosts plant growth while improving its stress tolerance, Flinn said. It hopes to market or license out the use of the microbe.