Get up to Speed

We have a long and rich heritage, bookmarked by key decisions that influenced the shape of our organization today.

The Horticultural Research Institute was established on September 19, 1962 to support and promote horticultural research that benefits the nursery and landscape industry. The Horticultural Research Institute is the research affiliate of AmericanHort.  To support its research efforts, the Horticultural Research Institute provides the opportunity for individuals, businesses, associations and foundations to make important tax-deductible contributions for the support of educational and scientific research.

The roots of the Horticultural Research Institute go back to the 1950’s, when leaders of the American Association of Nurserymen established the “American Nurserymen’s Research Foundation” in 1954. The motivation was to fund research in industry business operations and marketing to supplement research being done on plants and production at land grant universities. In 1962, a revamped Horticultural Research Institute replaced the older foundation. Eventually, two organizations were formed: Horticultural Research Institute the membership organization and several years later on July 7, 1975,  the 501(c)(3) Horticultural Research Institute Endowment Fund, the charitable foundation.

Over the lifespan of the two organizations, the Horticultural Research Institute Endowment Fund developed into a robust endowment fund that eclipsed the former Horticultural Research Institute in operational and fiscal capacity. As a result, it was determined that the needs of both organizations could be better served if the two were to merge into a single entity. On January 1, 2009, Horticultural Research Institute and Horticultural Research Institute Endowment Fund formally merged into the new Horticultural Research Institute. The new Horticultural Research Institute is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt research and educational foundation.



January 1950

The Executive Committee of the American Association of Nurserymen considers creating an industry-sponsored research program.

July 1951

The AAN Board of Directors presents a proposal to solicit contributions for a foundation in support of industry research. The Board of Governors approves the plan.

1954 - 1962

A person was not found to formally take on the fundraising needs in support of the foundation, so the foundation does not develop. $1,300 in contributions is received from J.V. Bailey Nurseries, MN; Diamond State Nurseries, DE; and The Siebenthaler Company, OH.

January 1955

The "Snyder Report" funded by AAN shows that land grant colleges and universities and several privately endowed research institutions are undertaking industry type research, but not specifically related to marketing, management, the market for nursery stock, and general economics of the industry.


January 1962

A committee is appointed by AAN to determine the manner in which other trade groups undertake industry research.

July 1962

In Denver, the AAN Board of Directors establishes the Horticultural Research Institute, a 501(c) (6): membership organization. This organization is separate from AAN. The organization is established to conduct research on the problems of the industry. The old Foundation is abandoned.


The Scope of the Industry survey is completed, marking the first time that a reliable study has collected industry data showing the importance of the industry for the US economy. Retail sales total $1.6 billion.


The Horticultural Research Institute Endowment Fund (HRIEF) is created as a 501(c)(3), nonprofit charitable organization. HRIEF is established to allow industry members to support industry research while receiving a tax-deductible contribution to HRIEF.


March 1983

The first issue of the Journal of Environmental Horticulture is published.

July 1988

The “Key To Progress” fundraising campaign—HRI’s first—is launched and Karl Junginger of McKay Nursery, WI, donates $100,000 to underwrite the campaign. The largest donation to date of $150,000 is given by Bailey Nurseries, Inc., of MN. Bailey’s becomes the first member of the “Founders Circle,” created to honor those who make donations of $100,000 or more to the HRI Endowment Fund.

February 1990

Region I, Key To Progress Campaign committee member, Palmer (Bill) Bigelow of Bigelow Nurseries announces that the Eastern region raised $787,000 in contributions to HRIEF.

July 1990

Key To Progress Campaign concludes at the AAN/TNA Nashville Convention and more than $3 million is raised in support of industry research.


January 1950

The Executive Committee of the American Association of Nurserymen considers creating an industry-sponsored research program.

July 1991

The AAN Board of Governors, meeting in Orlando, FL, learns that HRI has supported $596,000 in research grants since 1974 and the “Partnership for Progress” campaign is launched.

November 1991

HRI formulates its mission statement: “The mission of HRI is to direct, fund, promote and communicate research which increases the quality of plants, improves the productivity and profitability of the nursery industry and protects and enhances the environment.”


The Endowment reaches $3.6 million in donations and pledges. HRI publishes an updated Who’s Who in Nursery Research & Education. This publication is made available on a hard disk for PC computer users.



The Endowment reaches $4.1 million in donations and pledges. The HRI Board of Directors establishes a Research Policy to guide researchers in addressing real-world nursery and landscape issues. A total of $125,000 is awarded in research grants.


The Endowment reaches $5.1 million in donations and pledges.

Summer 1999

Gordie Bailey celebrates his 64th birthday while on a bike ride en route from Oregon to Minnesota. The 2,100-mile ride is dubbed the “Tour de Hort” and raises over $350,000 in contributions for HRI.

July 2000

At the ANLA Vancouver Annual Meeting, HRI announces the Heritage Circle. Industry members are encouraged to focus on their individual estate planning to safeguard their personal legacies and the financial well being of their families. Donors to HRI can designate HRI in their wills.



The Very Important Partner Campaign is launched. Industry members are encouraged to make donations in honor of their VIPs.

January 2001

In the Tour de Hort II, Gordie Bailey rides from St. Paul, MN, to Cleveland, Ohio. More than $550,000 is raised in support of HRI.

June-July 2003

Gordie Bailey completes the Tour de Hort III: The Finish Line. Gordie rides from Cleveland to Boston in support of the green industry, bringing Tour de Hort monies raised to $1.25 million dollars.


The Maryland Nursery & Landscape Association donates $68,000 directly to HRI’s Emerging Issues and Technology Projects Fund, in support of its current project involving the creation of biodegradable nursery containers, representing the largest donation made in support of the project.


July 2007

Green industry representatives Susie and Bob Dolibois reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro at 6:45 a.m. The Dolibois “team climb” becomes part of HRI’s summer Trek de Hort fundraiser, garnering more than $100,000.


HRI and HRIEF merge into the new HRI, which awards $200,000 in research and scholarships. HRI’s first website,, is launched in March.


HRI celebrates 50 years of service, garnering a record $500,000 in donations


Upon the creation of AmericanHort, the combination of ANLA and OFA, HRI signs a memorandum of understanding and announces affiliation with AmericanHort