Todd Perkins Receives Industry Achievement Award
Yesterday, Syngenta Flowers Senior Breeder Todd Perkins received the 2023 Medal of Excellence Industry Achievement Award. The Industry Achievement Award recognizes the lifetime accomplishments of individuals and organizations that have devoted their life’s work to the mission of advancing plant varieties and the floriculture industry.
Todd has been with Syngenta Flowers for over 35 years, but gardening has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. His love for plant breeding developed at university, and one of his first breeding breakthroughs was with Violas.
When Todd started at Goldsmith Seeds in 1988, no viola hybrids were on the market. Once Todd and a few other breeders started making crosses, they saw how hybrids could change the market. Hybrid violas had the performance and vigor to establish themselves in a wide range of environments, were fast to flower, and made the perfect bedding plant. This led to the development of the popular Penny™ series. Soon other breeding companies came to the same realization, and hybrid breeding became the gold standard for violas.
After introducing Penny™, Todd developed the Mammoth™ Pansy series, then took over Colossus™ breeding once Syngenta Flowers purchased Goldsmith. Colossus™ pansies boast extra-large blooms that withstand heat stress with less stretch even under hot and humid conditions. Since its initial release, Todd has introduced additional Colossus™ varieties. His contributions to breeding spread far beyond pansies and violas, though.
His significant breeding accomplishments include AAS Flower Award Winners Cleome Sparkler™ Blush, Zinnia Magellan™ Coral, and Zinnia Zowie!™ Yellow Flame. He has also received Greenhouse Grower Medal of Excellence awards for Aquilegia Origami™, Rudbeckia Tiger Eye™ Gold, and Interspecific Zinnia Zydeco™. In 2010 Todd was awarded the prestigious All-America Selections Breeders’ Cup Award. Todd has been an AAS Judge since 2002 and serves on the AAS Comparison Committee.
Todd is proud to say he has the best job in the world and encourages young people to consider a career in breeding. “If you love puzzles, are inquisitive by nature, and love flowers, then this is the job for you.” He encourages students to “Learn the science of breeding, have a passion for horticulture, and have a terrific familiarity with what’s being used and sold so that when you begin your career, you have an idea where opportunities live.”
Todd is working with up-and-coming talents in the breeding world to share his expertise and passion for advancing and producing game-changing genetics. In recent years Todd has worked on Viola cornuta, Viola wittrockiana, Zinnia marylandica, Zinnia elegans, Antirrhinum majus, Rudbeckia hirta, Cleome hassleriana, and Aquilegia caerulea. He has more surprises to share with us and is training talented new breeders like Mary Lewis, and Jeanine Janssen to continue the development of his creations.
Congratulations to Todd on receiving the industry achievement award! Syngenta Flowers is grateful to have you on board, and we thank you for your dedicated passion for breeding some of the best plant genetics out there.
Learn more about some of Todd’s award-winning breeding innovations below:
Cleome Sparkler™ Blush
Award: 2002 AAS Flower Award Winner
About: Sparkler™ Blush offers brawn and beauty for season-extending programs. F1 hybrid vigor and uniformity offer easy production and superior landscape performance. Heat-loving annual holds up to summer stress and provides reliable height and structure to landscape beds.
Note- Sparkler™ 2.0 is the current available series improved upon the original award-winning Sparkler™ series.
Aquilegia Origami™ Series
Award: 2002 Greenhouse Grower Medal of Excellence for Breeding
About: Origami™ is truly programmable like an annual with minimal vernalization requirements. Bright colors and upward-facing blooms improve retail impact. Highly uniform across all colors, an ideal grower-friendly series.
Note- Kirigami™ is the current available series improved upon the original award-winning Origami™ series.
Zinnia Magellan™ Coral
Award: 2005 AAS Flower Award Winner
About: Magellan™ Coral is very grower friendly—bred for exceptional performance on the bench and in the garden. Superior flower quality—large, fully double blooms in clean, bright colors. Excellent choice for quick-turn, high-profit summer programs.
Zinnia Zowie!™ Yellow Flame
Award: 2006 AAS Flower Award Winner
About: Zowie!™ Yellow Flame demands to be noticed. A vigorous and well-branched Zinnia with striking, fully double bicolor flowers. A season-extending heat lover that is ideal for large premium container summer programs. Strong landscape vigor well-suited for use in the middle or back of sunny garden beds.
Rudbeckia Tiger Eye™ Gold
Award: 2008 Greenhouse Grower Reader’s Choice
About: The gold standard in annual Rudbeckias, Tiger Eye™ Gold is an F1 Hybrid Rudbeckia. Its hybrid nature results in plants that display superior uniformity—a new achievement for annual Rudbeckias--and strong growth in the landscape.
Interspecific Zinnia Zydeco™ Series
Award: 2022 Greenhouse Grower Readers’ Choice Award
About: With fully-double flowers that are 25% larger than the competition, Zydeco™ sets the new industry standard. Excellent disease resistance and impressive heat and drought tolerance combine for superior season-long garden performance.