Laura Lara, Darwin Perennials:

"Breeding is an art and a science"

Perennials are a product class that is in a period of rapid growth. Consumer demand continues to expand and breeders are diving deeper into the huge pool of genetic diversity that has not yet been explored. This makes it a particularly exciting time to be breeding perennials.

by Laura Lara, Star Roses and Plants Breeder of Darwin Perennials

As a breeder, exploring diverse genetic material provides opportunities. Thus, we are seeing big changes in perennials.

  • Extended flowering windows
  • Varieties without a need for vernalization, and
  • Reblooming in genera that typically have only one flower cycle.

I think that we are just starting to scratch the surface, and so we will continue to see these type of breakthrough changes for quite some time. Personally, I really look forward to the upcoming introductions!

Challenges and how to overcome them
Breeding is an art and a science. The mere scientific knowledge of plant biology, physiology and genetics is not enough. Figuring out pollination techniques, parent compatibility, trait inheritance patterns, and early embryo abortion are some of the challenges that we overcome by combining different disciplines together. We are lucky to have a great team of passionate, bright and curious people. Without them, we wouldn’t have new introductions. When we face obstacles, we bring them to the table, brainstorm, ask questions, set up experiments, and come up with solutions.

Communication is the conduit for solutions-driven breeding. As gardeners, growers and landscape architects continue to look for perennials that provide a unique touch to the landscape, we at Darwin Perennials and Star Roses and Plants continue to develop new varieties that provide the longevity, flower power and disease resistance that they need.

Communicate. We want to hear from you! It is essential for breeders to stay in touch with the end user: home gardeners, growers and landscape architects. We need to know what is working, but most importantly what is not. We are lucky to receive feedback from the industry regarding their “wish lists,” which we can then incorporate into our breeding objectives.

We are listening to your concerns and we would like to hear more about them. In fact, drop me a line at if you’ve got a problem; we just might be able to breed a solution!

For more information:
Darwin Perennials
622 Town Road
West Chicago, Illinois 60185-2698
630 231-3600

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