Horticultural Research Institute: Strategic Grantmaking

Horticultural Research Institute

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Grant amount: US $5,000 - US $35,000

Deadline: May 31, 2020

Applicant type: Organizations Individuals

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

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About this funder:



Strategic Grantmaking

Through strategic grantmaking, Horticultural Research Institute invests in a broad range of highly effective research projects. We invite researchers to explore the competitive grant opportunities made possible by our generous donors.

Since 1962, the Horticultural Research Institute has directed over $7 million of industry funds to research projects covering the full range of production, environmental, and business issues important to the horticultural trade.

Horticultural Research Institute only funds research that specifically deals with green industry-related issues. HRI-supported projects focus on significant problems, regulatory issues, and emerging opportunities in the nursery, greenhouse, retail, and landscape industry. HRI research focuses on the propagation, production, distribution, marketing, and sale of plant material.

HRI research encourages

  • environmentally responsible management practices
  • increases in crop producers' business or financial expertise
  • improvements in and expansion of the market for plant material

HRI seeks to support research that

  • has defined outcomes
  • creates applicable advice for businesses
  • represents a return on investment for the green industry

Grants are typically between $5,000 and $35,000, although larger awards have been issued. We encourage you to review our research priorities and project requirements and review process before applying for a research grant.

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 HRI’s Administrator.

General Research Priorities

Horticulture Management

  • Production related issues
  • Propagation related issues
  • Retail and landscape distribution issues
  • Irrigation management issues
  • Chemical use and improved spray application issues
  • Landscape sustainability

Resource Management

  • Media constituent issues
  • Labor and efficiency issues
  • Water management, runoff, and irrigation issues
  • Fertility issues
  • Land use issues

Pest Management

  • Invasive plant species issues
  • Exotic insect pest and disease issues
  • Weed control issues
  • Improved chemical use and delivery method issues
  • Biocontrol uses and issues

Mechanization and Applied Technology

  • RFID Technologies and Application
  • Labor reduction and efficiency issues
  • New technologies for horticulture
  • Ergonomic issues
  • New machinery and related technology issues

Marketing Research & Business Development

  • Market demographics and trends
  • Market size and trends (helpful when dealing with regulatory and legislative issues)
  • Consumer purchasing habits and trends (i.e. branding)
  • Retail innovation

Health, Wealth, and Wellness Impacts of Horticulture

  • Workforce Development (current and future)
  • Health and Wellness Benefits of Horticulture and the Commercial Benefit to Hort (ie Hort Therapy)
  • Improve Horticulture’s Image

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.

  • 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.
      • Studies should include concentration changes in pollen and nectar throughout the production process (timing and plant life stage).
      • Studies should be carried out on various horticultural crops (annuals, perennials, woodies).
  • Alternative Practices Development – Where systemic insecticides cannot be used or must be used in a more limiting fashion.
    • 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.
  • Bee Attractiveness – Which plants most commonly sold are more vs. less attractive to bees.
    • 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.
  • Flower Characterization – Evaluate pollen and nectar production of the most commonly sold flowering plants sold in garden centers and big box stores.
    • 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.
  • Native Pollinator Survey – A forensic analysis of factors impacting native bee health in suburban areas.
    • 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 pests and pathogens.

Plant Breeding Research Policy

There are limited resources and financial incentives in the private sector to provide the long term and more fundamental genetic and germplasm development that concentrates on non-ornamental characteristics of plant material.​

It shall be the policy of HRI to give preferential consideration to germplasm, plant breeding and cultivar enhancement research efforts that focus on developing resistance to biotic (insect and disease pests), tolerant of abiotic stresses (heat, drought, cold hardiness, urban sites, poor soils, etc.), invasiveness and adaptation to climate change. In addition, where intellectual property and patent opportunities arrive from such funded research efforts, HRI will engage with collaborative research partners where intellectual property and patent rights can be shared, such as CRADA opportunities with USDA Agricultural Research Service.

(adopted November 19, 2008 by the HRI Executive Committee)

  • No cost extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Contact Jennifer Gray for details.
  • Unspent funds may remain the property of the researcher, to be used in furtherance of the supervising institution's horticultural research program, with permission of HRI. Contact Jennifer Gray for details.
  • HRI is not responsible for payment of any amount other than the financial assistance specifically set forth in the Agreement.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Horticultural Research Institute grants may be used only for the direct costs of the project.


  • It shall be the policy of HRI to give preferential consideration to germplasm, plant breeding and cultivar enhancement research efforts that focus on developing resistance to biotic (insect and disease pests), tolerant of abiotic stresses (heat, drought, cold hardiness, urban sites, poor soils, etc.), invasiveness and adaptation to climate change.


  • The researcher may not use these funds to pay for general or administrative expenses.