Texas A&M AgriLife Research donates hibiscus plants to help beautify Vernon

Contact: Lileen Coulloudon, 940-552-6226, Lileen.coulloudon@ag.tamu.edu

Members of the Lion’s Club in Vernon help with the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism and Main Street Program give away of donated Texas A&M Research-grown hibiscus plants. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Amanda Martinez, Vernon Chamber of Commerce)

VERNON – The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon, through a joint effort with Vernon’s Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism and Main Street Program, recently donated approximately 500 hibiscus plants to local organizations and businesses.

Dr. Dariusz Malinowski, with Texas A&M AgriLife Research at Vernon, breeds many different colors, shapes and sizes of winter-hardy hibiscus. (Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Kay Ledbetter)

These hardy hibiscus flowers were developed by world-renowned plant scientist Dr. Dariusz Malinowski, according to Lileen Coulloudon, marketing coordinator at the center’s Texas Foundation Seed Service, located south of Vernon.

Malinowski focuses on developing novel flower colors, shapes and sizes, as well as foliage colors, through intensive hybridization and selection. The program is the preeminent hardy hibiscus breeding program in the world, Coulloudon said.

The donated plants were part of the center’s breeding program but were going to be discarded, she said.

“It’s a win-win for us and the community,” Coulloudon said. “We need to make room in the greenhouse for the next generation of plants, and these plants are beautiful and perfectly suited for local gardens.”

Over the last nine years, Malinowski and his team have created and evaluated about 20,000 hibiscus hybrids. Hundreds of these hybrids have been evaluated by commercial partners such as J. Berry Nursery, which now markets a collection called Summer Spice that includes the world’s first blue hibiscus, developed by Malinowski.

Many lines are being looked at in the Texas A&M AgriLife Research winter-hardy hibiscus breeding program near Vernon. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kay Ledbetter)

“Not only are hibiscus blooming around town, people are visiting the research plots and touring the AgriLife center,” said Amanda Lehman, Vernon Tourism and Main Street director. “This raises awareness of the research and extension projects at the Vernon center.”

The center is home to research and educational outreach programs in food, feed, fiber and biofuel production as well as environmental systems management and water quality. Additional programs include animal nutrition and health, rangeland restoration, agricultural resource economics, natural resource conservation and protection, and plant breeding.

Outreach programs and services provide quality, relevant “real learning for real life” for the people and communities of the Rolling Plains.

For additional information, go to https://www.facebook.com/AgriLifeVernon/. More information on the Texas A&M AgriLife hibiscus breeding program at Vernon can be found at https://www.facebook.com/tamuhibiscusvernontexas/.

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