chicagoland grows® Plant Introduction Program

About the Plant Introduction Program


Established in 1986, Chicagoland Grows® Plant Introduction Program is a unique partnership among the Chicago Botanic Garden, The Morton Arboretum, and the Ornamental Growers Association of Northern Illinois (OGA), dedicated to developing, selecting, testing, and marketing a diversity of plants from landscape trees to shrubs, perennials, and grasses, all well adapted to midwestern and equivalent landscapes.

The program’s success is due to the complementary resources each of the three partners contributes to the collaboration.

The Chicago Botanic Garden’s plant breeding program has contributed 32 perennial selections to Chicagoland Grows – including the world’s first hybrid orange coneflower and the Prairieblues™ false indigo series – with more perennial plants currently undergoing propagation and nursery trials. The Garden’s plant evaluation program systematically evaluates the Chicagoland Grows plants and provides practical data such as bloom dates, disease and pest resistance, growth rates, and other ornamental attributes that are used to select, patent, and market the plants. 

The Morton Arboretum has contributed  15 trees and 7 shrubs to Chicagoland Grows – Including the award-winning trees Ulmus 'Morton' Accolade® Elm , and Acer miyabei 'Morton' State Street® Maple –  with additional promising woody plants from its historic collections, plant exploration trips (both national and international), and its breeding and selection program all being evaluated for potential introduction.

The individual OGA nurseries have contributed plants to the program, conducted propagation and field and container trials of potential new introductions, and are in the vanguard of bringing the program’s selections to the marketplace by growing, marketing, and selling high-quality specimens of the plants to landscape contractors, other nurseries, and garden centers throughout the Chicago region, the Midwest, and beyond.

Five more plants selected  by various regional nurseries have been co-introduced by Chicagoland Grows and the originating nurseries, bring the program’s total introductions to 62 introductions (trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses).

The program has licensed over one hundred additional wholesale and retail nurseries and commercial tissue culture laboratories throughout the United States and in other countries to bring the Chicagoland Grows plant introductions to landscapes with comparable climates literally around the world. 

If you are interested in becoming a licensed propagator and grower of the Chicagoland Grows plant introductions, you can contact the program manager:

Jim Ault, Director of Ornamental Plant Research
Chicago Botanic Garden
Phone: (847) 835-8244
Fax: (847) 835-5484

of note Email: