Pathways SU24 Digital Magazine

WASHINGTON GARDENER The Future of Gardening

BY KATHY JENTZ Earlier this year, the worldwide gardening community was hit with a double whammy of big news by the announcements of two huge de- velopments in plant breeding. The first is a glow-in-the-dark petunia called ‘Firefly’. The compa - ny that bred it, Light Bio of Ketchum, Idaho, just got approval by the USDA to sell it. During the day, it looks like a regular white petunia. At night, it gives off an “ethereal aura.” The plant gets its “glow” from genes extracted from naturally bioluminescent mushrooms. The com- pany had been working on this project since 1986 and anticipates that future plants will be 10 times brighter than this first introduction. You can order your very own ‘Firefly’ petunia for $29 plus postage and handling at If you do, let me know if it lives up to the hype! The other piece of big news was the introduction of a GMO tomato to the home gardening market. Up until now, I could confidently pro - claim at my seed-saving talks and at my annual Seed Exchanges that GMO seeds were only available to large-scale farmers and none would be sold in retail to consumers. Now the genie is out of the bottle. This first one is being sold to home gardeners as a way of showing the American public the benefits of GMO foods. It is a purple tomato with high levels of anthocyanins, the compounds that give the plants their purplish tint and have been shown to have anti-cancer and an- ti-inflammatory effects. The purple gene comes from a snapdragon and was inserted into a bacteria that the tomato took in to “express this new gene.” [You are probably familiar with the ‘Indigo Rose’ to- mato and the rest of the series — ‘Indigo Cherry Drops’, ‘Indigo Kiwi’, etc. — that was the result of crossing the Galapagos Island tomato (Solanum cheesmaniae) and Wild Desert Tomato (Solanum chilense) with a regular tomato variety, and not of GMO gene splicing.] Will these two novelty plants be accepted and embraced by the American public? What new directions in GMO and conventional breeding are yet to be explored? What will the future hold for home gardeners? Will there be a glow-in-the-dark, GMO daylily in your gar - den next year? Stay tuned...



Kathy Jentz is editor/publisher of Washington Gardener magazine. She is also the host of the popular GardenDC Podcast. Washington Gardener magazine is the gardening publication published specifically for the local metro area — zones 6-7 — Washington DC and its suburbs. The magazine is written entirely by local area gardeners. They have real-world knowledge and practical advice. They share their thoughts on what to plant in deep shade, how to cover bare spots, which annuals work best throughout the humid DC summers, and much more. The magazine is published monthly online and includes timely infor- mation such as a local garden events calendar and gardening to-do list for that month. A year-long digital subscription is $20.00. To sub - scribe to the magazine: Send a check/money order for $20.00 payable to “Washington Gardener” magazine to: Washington Gardener, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910 OR to pay via Paypal/cred - it card click on the “ subscribe ” link at . owners in your life.

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