Increasing use of sustainable plants in production and landscape design

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $180,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Kris Braman
University of Georgia

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: ornamentals


  • Education and Training: decision support system
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Proposal abstract:

    The purpose of this project is to increase the production and establishment of low- input, pest resistant plants for the landscape. Use of sustainable plants from production through establishment will greatly reduce the pollution potential associated with high pesticide use necessary to maintain pest- susceptible turf and ornamental plants during production and in the landscape. Urban agriculture including nursery and sod production and the value added components of landscape installation and maintenance have increased at a phenomenal rate during the last twenty years. Plants were historically developed for their aesthetic, horticultural attributes. Recently, greater emphasis has been placed on development and use of pest-resistant and other low-input plants. Interest in learning about pest-resistant plants was clearly demonstrated in a Georgia survey where 72% of GA homeowners expressed an interest in knowing more about pest resistant plants as an alternative to pesticide use. In that survey, respondents' interest in learning about alternatives to pesticides showed opportunities for distinguishing targeted educational messages. Research (including that conducted under our earlier SARE project, AS95-023) has demonstrated opportunities to reduce pollution potential in production and value added segments of the diverse urban agricultural industry by using pest-resistant plants. Impediments to implementation of host plant resistance as a sustainable strategy include the lack of sufficient information on resistant plants that research component 1 of this preproposal addresses. The continual identification of appropriate sustainable plant material is necessary because of the diversity of plant/pest combinations experienced in typical southeastern landscapes and because of the constant threat of invasive species. Current projects of proposal participants address relatively recent invasives in the south such as hemlock wooly adelgid, pink hibiscus mealybug and sudden oak death, as well as long established non-native species (azalea lace bug) or native pests (two lined spittlebug). Perhaps even more important is the diversity of audiences influencing decision making. Garber and Bondari (1992), for example, identified landscape architects as having key impact on demand for plant material, yet few research or extension initiatives have addressed this critical link. Our research and education project investigates the potential and addresses the impediments to using the environmentally sound practice of host plant resistance as a foundational management strategy for pests in urban agricultural production of amenity crops. The project extends to activities in the landscape, the ultimate site of the plant material of interest, because these two segments of the industry affect each other and the potential impact of changing consumer plant choices on environmental stewardship and sustainability is large.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The goal of our project is to increase production and ultimate use of low-input, especially pest -resistant plants in the southeastern U.S. The objectives of this proposal are to: 1)identify optimal plant material (from both low input and aesthetic viewpoints), 2) facilitate pest-resistant plant production and availability, 3) enhance the likelihood that resistant plants will be specified in landscape design, and 4) provide a tool that will make locating desired sustainable plants easier.
    The research component of this project 1) identifies and develops pest-resistant or other stress tolerant plant material suitable for the southeast and 2) investigates, through survey, interview and facilitated conferences, the most appropriate methods to achieve components 2, 3 and 4 of the plan above, including development of a logo and promotional plan.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.