Gumamela (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) and Hoya are ornamental plants widely popular for their unique and attractive blooms. With the lockdown-induced interest and trend on growing garden- and houseplants, more consumers look out for new varieties available in the market.

In the Philippines, there is a preference for imported or international varieties of gumamela because of their large, multi-colored petals. However, these varieties do not bloom well in low and hot areas of the country.

Hoya, on the other hand, is one of the country’s most outstanding endemic ornamental plants with high commercial value but has been given very limited research attention.

To address these, the Philippine Council for Agriculture Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) launched two new breeding projects on gumamela and Hoya during an online inception meeting held recently.

The first project, “Development of new Hibiscus varieties through hybridization and embryo rescue,” aims to produce locally-adapted gumamela plants that can bloom well even under hot or tropical conditions.

At least six new NSIC-approved gumamela varieties and two interspecific hybrids are expected to be delivered by 2024. Ms. Agripina O. Rasco and Dr. Pablito M. Magdalita, both of the Institute of Plant Breeding of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (IPB-UPLB) are working together on the project.

The second project, “Varietal Development in Philippine Native Hoyas,” focuses on introducing new varieties of Hoya with new color or form, profuse flowering, and longer blooming period.

The team targets five potential varieties with new flower color or form and good blooming habit and at least five propagated materials of each potential variety, among many other outputs. Ms. Maria Luisa D. Guevarra, also from IPB-UPLB, leads the project.

These two projects are part of DOST-PCAARRD’s Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) for Ornamental Plants.

The inception meeting was organized by the Crops Research Division (CRD) of DOST-PCAARRD and attended by the project teams from IPB-UPLB, accounting officers of UPLB, CRD Director Edna A. Anit, M&E Section Head, Mr. Allan B. Siano, ISP Manager for Ornamental Plants Ms. Kimberly Zarah B. Locsin, and other CRD staff (Sharie Al-Faiha A. Lubang, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).