Brent Horvath – Intrinsic Perennial Gardens
We love talking to plant breeders to see what exciting, new innovations they’re working on. Breeders make up the first, vital link in the perennial plant supply chain. Whether they’re full-time professionals or part-time hobbyists, plant breeders propel the horticulture market forward by introducing new and genetically diverse varieties each year. Must Have Perennials® works with breeders, large and small, to bring the best garden genetics to market.
One such breeder is Brent Horvath, president of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens, Inc. in Hebron, Illinois. Located near the Wisconsin border, Intrinsic is a wholesale container nursery specializing in hardy perennials and ornamental grasses. Their plants are bred and selected to thrive in tough Midwest conditions such as hot humid summers and cold, wet winters.
A plantsman through and through, Brent grew up in the industry, working at his parents’ garden center and landscape company that would become Intrinsic Perennial Gardens in 1978. He graduated from Oregon State University with a horticulture degree before returning to the family business, which he now owns. Brent holds 50 plant patents and has developed over 100 new varieties.
The Plant Lover’s Guide to Sedums
Brent is also a published author. His book “The Plant Lover’s Guide to Sedums”, is a helpful garden reference detailing best practices and uses for popular sedums on the market.
Must Have Perennials recently worked with Brent to bring some excellent new varieties, Delosperma ‘Orange Crush’ and ‘Mountain Dew’ to market. We asked him a few questions about the insights and experiences he’s acquired over years of plant breeding.
What keeps you excited and passionate about plant breeding?
I’ve been involved in breeding for about 25 years now. I really enjoy having the opportunity to create something new and share it with people. Unveiling a new variety that’s better and more durable than what came before and having others take notice of it is very rewarding.
What’s your philosophy/process when it comes to breeding?
Many breeders pollinate intentionally, by hand, but I use open pollinated collections with lots of species grown together. I like to see what developments occur naturally in this environment because it often yields great things. My breeding area is right outside my office door, so I spend a lot of time there keeping an eye out for something new and different that may develop.
What’s your #1 tip for plant breeding hobbyists?
I think the most important tip would be: start with collecting. Try to gather focused collections of species and varieties to compare and get to know everything about them. Once you do, it gets easier to figure out what kinds of improvements could be made to them. I think that’s a good place to start for beginners.
We’re very excited about our recent introductions, Delosperma Mountain Dew and Orange Crush. How did these unique varieties come about?
Both of these varieties were derived from Delosperma Fire Spinner, which I had as part of my succulent collection. One day, I noticed that a flower on one side of Fire Spinner was completely orange-petalled, instead of the normal magenta and orange coloring. I took some cuttings for propagation, and that’s how Orange Crush came about. Later, I noticed yellow flower variations on Orange Crush, and repeated the process to create Mountain Dew.
What types of new varieties are you working on now?
Grasses have become more of a focus for me lately. I have many promising new grasses that I’m happy about. I’m always excited about finding something new and different, and I’m looking for improvements in garden durability and disease tolerance.
Find Brent Horvath on social media to see what exciting new creations he’s working on in the garden. Also, be sure to check out Intrinsic Perennial Gardens online or visit their nursery and display gardens if you’re in the Hebron, Ill. area.