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A Journey
Through Plants

About Intrinsic Introductions

Intrinsic Introductions is a breeding program that grew out of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens, the finishing nursery Brent Horvath founded after he graduated from Oregon State in 1991 with a degree in ornamental horticulture. Over the decades, he has introduced a range of perennials, grasses, and sedums based on his work with landscapers and retailers in the Chicagoland area.

The Intrinsic name runs deep in the Horvath family. His father, Lajos, escaped from Hungary during the Spring Revolution of 1956 and evenually started a landscaping business and then a garden center in northern Illinois. Lajos chose the name Intrinsic because he felt that plants should have intrinsic value in the garden.


Selling Perennials

Brent chose to sell perennials based on a junior year internship at W.& E. Radtke Wholesale Nursery in Germantown, Wisconsin. While there, his eyes were opened to the wide diversity of perennials, as well as to the inner workings of the wholesale horticultural trade.

After graduation, Brent returned home and asked his father for advice. Lajos gave him a corner of the family property to start his new business, with a barn, a well, and one hoop house. Intrinsic Perennial Gardens was born.


Penstemon 'Pink Dawn'

Early in his career, Brent wasn’t thinking about patents. He grew perennials, shared their propagation, and discovered sports in the hustle and bustle of his business. At this time, he also read Alan Bloom’s Perennials for Your Garden, which became an inspiration. “This is what I want to do," he realized. "Find new plants and bring them to market.”

While reading the book, he found one. Penstemon ‘Pink Dawn’ became his first selection. He discovered it as a seedling of Penstemon digitalis, a tall species that blooms white. ‘Pink Dawn’ is half the height and blooms pink. This would be the dawn of Intrinsic Introductions.


Sedum Autumn Charm™

'Autumn Joy' was a top seller at the time and Brent found a sport with chartreuse margins on the leaves. As he grew it out, the color contrast intensified. Buds emerged a creamy white only to open into vibrant shades of pink.

In order to license 'Autumn Charm' and bring it to market Brent worked with Walters Gardens, learning the complex patent process along the way. As a tribute to his charming father, he gave the plant the official patent name, 'Lajos'.


Salvia 'Golden Delicious'

'Golden Delicious' was a sport of Salvia elegans with an incredibly rich red bloom, but that’s typical of the species. Bright chartreuse foliage is what elevated the plant, making the bloom stand out dramatically.

For this variety Brent worked with Proven Winners to license and bring it to market. Due to patent timing issues, Salvia 'Golden Delicious' is the cultivar that generated his first royalty check.


Pennisetum 'Red Head'

Brent received his first award from the International Hardy Plant Union (ISU), the European equivalent of the Perennial Plant Association (PPA). It was for Pennisetum ‘Red Head’, a seedling of Pennisetum ‘National Arboretum’.

This plant manifests two dramatic innovations. First, the inflorescences are much bigger and much redder. Second, it blooms very early, a full month before the other pennisetums.


The Plant Lover's Guide to Sedums

Timber Press approached Brent to write about sedums because he’d been doing a lot of work with the genus. He’d been growing a lot of quantity for the green roof trade which led him to start breeding them. Writing the book afforded him the opportunity to expand his knowledge of sedums, especially the tender ones from Mexico, and he began gathering more varieties and species for his own breeding.


Dianthus 'Fuchsia Fire'

Brent has begun to pass his plant knowledge along to the next generation by mentoring other burgeoning breeders. His protege, Jake Letmanski, developed a new garden dianthus, 'Frosty Fire', in 2020 and released a new phlox, 'Mr. Blue Sky', four years later.

Jake graduated from Iowa State in 2024 and joined the graduate program at the University of Connecticut to work on spireas and other shrubs.


Rudbeckia 'American Gold Rush'

In response to the septoria problem plaguing Rudbeckia fulgida, Brent developed a disease-resistant counterpart to Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’. ‘American Gold Rush’ is very hardy and very disease resistant, and it happens to have a beautiful shape. Just gorgeous. It became an All-American Selection and then the Perennial Plant of the Year for 2023.