Research Priorities

General and targeted research priorities are established by the Horticultural Research Institute's Board of Trustees, with input from many industry professionals and members of the research community. The research priorities change over time and are reviewed continuously by HRI leadership. For questions about grants or the established research priorities, please contact Jill Calabro, HRI's Research & Science Programs Director.


General Research Priorities

  • Production related issues
  • Propagation related issues
  • Retail and landscape distribution issues
  • Irrigation management issues
  • Chemical use and improved spray application issues
  • Landscape sustainability
  • Media constituent issues
  • Labor and efficiency issues
  • Water management, runoff, and irriation issues
  • Fertility issues
  • Land use issues
  • Invasive plant species issues
  • Exotic insect pest and disease issues
  • Weed control issues
  • Improved checmical use and delivery method issues
  • Biocontrol uses and issues
  • Labor reduction and efficiency issues
  • New technologies for horticulture
  • Ergonomic issues
  • New machinery and related technology issues
  • Market demographics and trends
  • Market size and trends (helpful when dealing with regulatory and legislative issues)
  • Consumer purchasing habits and trends (i.e. branding)

Targeted Priority: RFID Technology

Radio Frequency Identification in Horticultural Crop Production Systems. The adoption of RFID technology in the horticultural crop industry has made rapid advancements in a number of areas. HRI has funded RFID research proposals in the past, and is interested in the current status and future application of this technology.

Research proposals should include:

  • A review of the current state of the art and science of RFID technology currently applied to horticultural crops.
  • A review of the current state of the art and science of RFID technology currently applied to horticultural crops.

Areas of interest include supply-chain management systems, plant production systems and possible application in plant health and crop certification programs. Identification of current barriers to industry adoption and implementation would also be helpful in the proposal.

  • Provide the industry/HRI with a review of the current status of RFID technology.
  • Provide guidance and recommendations for additional research opportunities not currently addressed with this technology.

Targeted Priority: Pollinator Health

The five areas of research are listed below in priority. Research proposals may identify more than one area of research, but in this case, please provide a statement in the proposal on how each area of research is connected.


  1. Neonicotinoid Exposure to Bees during Forage – Better understand actual exposure of bees to neonicotinoids through landscape plants.
    • Evaluation — Analyze neonicotinoid concentrations in pollen and nectar for commonly sold plants that produce sufficient pollen and nectar for bees to feed from and bees are attracted to. Analyze neonicotinoid concentrations in pollen and nectar following typical pest control practices and mimicking the gap in time from application to store shelf.
  2. Studies should include concentration changes in pollen and nectar throughout the production process (timing and plant life stage).
  3. Studies should be carried out on various horticultural crops (annuals, perennials, woodies).
  4. Alternative Practices Development – Where systemic insecticides cannot be used or must be used in a more limiting fashion.
  5. Study Outcome — Management strategies that can be deployed to maintain appropriate levels of pest control and eradication of regulated pest when limited use of systemic insecticides is warranted.
  6. Bee Attractiveness — Which plants most commonly sold are more vs. less attractive to bees.
  7. Evaluation — Which of plants most regularly sold at garden centers are very attractive to bees and other insect pollinators, especially in the landscape where other forage options are available.
  8. Flower Characterization — Evaluate pollen and nectar production of the most commonly sold flowering plants sold in garden centers and big box stores.
  9. Hypothesis — Many of the most popular and charismatic flowering plants, especially bedding plants, do not produce significant quantities of pollen and nectar. Despite the color cues that pollinators are attracted to, they get little to no food from theses flowers and are, therefore, un-impacted by any systemic insecticides used.
  10. Native Pollinator Survey — A forensic analysis of factors impacting native bee health in suburban areas.
  11. Study — There is little to no data about the health of native bees in the US but a general perception is that they are under stress. This project would collect native bee colonies and evaluate them for the presence of Varroa mites, Tracheal mites, pathogens, and neonicotinoid concentrations in honey and wax.