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Plant Breeders' Rights - Why plants need security guards

Published 7 June 2013

During Adrian Bloom’s recent interview as part of the BBC’s Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show coverage, some people may have wondered what he was referring to when mentioning “the first plant with a security guard”. He was talking about Potentilla ‘Red Ace’ which, due to its exceptionally long blooming period for Potentillas at the time of its introduction, was recognised as being of great commercial value. It seemed right that a plant such as this, which would sell in large quantities, should return suitable financial reward to the breeder.

To facilitate this, the Plant Breeders’ Rights scheme was developed. Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) forbids a plant covered by its protection from being propagated for commercial gain except by those who hold a license to do so. This makes it possible to know how many plants are produced and monitor their route through the supply chain, thereby controlling the authenticity of plants offered for sale and returning royalties to the breeder.

Return on investment

While some argue that plants are a product of nature and should therefore be free for all to replicate, PBR acknowledges the vast amounts of time, effort and expertise that go not just into breeding more desirable plants but also into trialling them and finding suitable large-scale propagation methods. In addition to the patience, perseverence and attention to detail that goes into breeding and selecting new varieties, a great deal of financial investment is required to bring a new introduction to market.

Because PBR enables the supply chain to be controlled, it ensures just financial rewards go to those who invested in the plant in the first place. At the same time, it generates income for all in the supply chain who help bring the plant to the consumer, enabling gardeners across the world to experience success through superior performing varieties which have only made it to market because of such investment.

To draw an obvious analogy, PBR is akin to copywright on music. Some say that music costs nothing to create. But instruments and recording equipment can be expensive and the artists who write the music also need to eat. And is it really so bad to pay the people whose talents have given us enjoyment?

Innovation is the lifeblood of any industry. To keep that innovation flowing, those who pioneer it need to be fairly rewarded.

Realising gardeners’ dreams

The recently voted RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Centenary Geranium Rozanne® is protected by PBR. This multi-million selling perennial was the result of an eagle-eyed amateur gardener’s efforts. But it took a great deal of expertise and perseverence from Adrian Bloom and a host of other people, including the plant introduction company Must Have Perennials™, to actually make Rozanne® available for others to buy. The plant had to be trialled in different climates throughout the world to confirm its quality and a new mass-propagation technique had to be developed because the variety did not respond well to standard methods.

Without the security afforded by PBR, this probably never would have happened and millions of gardeners around the world would not have been able to enjoy Geranium Rozanne’s superior performance. Nor would Donald and Rozanne Waterer, now succeeded by their descendants, have experienced the satisfaction of their plant’s popularity and appropriate financial return.

Geranium Rozanne® is just one of many superior varieties that reward their breeders through the PBR scheme. Lychnis ‘Jenny’, Erysimum ‘Jenny Brook’ and Coreopsis ‘Creme Brulee’ are just a few to mention. For information about these and other PBR protected plants introduced by Must Have Perennials™, and their breeders, see

Found a Plant?

Thanks to PBR, anybody who believes they have a unique and desirable new perennial variety on their hands has the opportunity to submit it for possible introduction. Successful varieties – those which are adjudged to be both genuinely different and offer exceptional garden performance – have the potential to be sold in their millions, giving the breeder immense satisfaction of contributing to other gardeners’ enjoyment while earning then royalty fees. To find out more about plants brought to market by Must Have Perennials™ and how to submit your potential new varieties, go to


Notes to editors

The downloadable pdf document (linked below) stating the case for Plant Breeders' Rights was published by Adrian Bloom in 1983. Adrian Bloom is available to be interviewed about this subject, via contact with Miriam Young.

A selection of images showing Geranium Rozanne in use at The Bressingham Gardens, other public gardens and as an individual plant are availavle to illustrate this story. View photographs.

Contact Miriam Young for unwatermarked and high res images.


extension_icon Plant Breeders Rights doc.pdf



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