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7 Canadian horticulture innovations to celebrate

Canada isn’t much of a bragging country. We’re known for being polite, for saying sorry, for being satisfied with the simple things: cottage weekends, Tim’s and the odd hat trick. But during Canadian Innovation Week, we have a lot to brag about.

Canada is a land of innovators. We’re the home of JAVA programming language, the Canadarm, the cardiac pacemaker, pablum, the paint roller, the zipper, basketball, insulin and even peanut butter!

We’re also home to a number of horticultural and agricultural innovations that have helped or are helping to advance our industry.

In celebration of Canadian Innovation Week, we’d like to share some of our favourite home-grown horticulture innovations, including some of our own!


Did you know that Canada gave canola to the world?

Derived from rapeseed, canola was invented by two Canadian researchers with the National Research Council, B.R. Stefansson and R.K. Downey, now known as the “Fathers of Canola”.

The pair later received several awards, including the Royal Bank Award and Order of Canada, in recognition of their contributions for developing canola. Today, canola is among Canada’s most important exports.

UV Degradable Plastics

Toronto-based scientist Dr. James Guillet stumbled upon this invention in 1971 while he was working with his students on the opposite problem: creating a polymer that could resist sun exposure. Read the full story of Guillet’s invention in this Globe and Mail article.

The invention of degradable plastics was a major step toward a greener horticulture industry. Today, we are seeing an increasing demand for sustainable pots and growing containers, made from compostable, degradable and 100% recyclable materials.

Al’s Flower Pouch and Thirst Quencher

     The original Al’s Flower Pouch was invented by A.M.A.’s founder (and the product and company’s namesake), Allen Monsma, in 1992. So simple yet so beautiful, it has adorned backyards, patios and public spaces across Canada, the US and even Europe for the past 27 years.

In 2017, customer collaboration and feedback helped A.M.A. introduce a new innovation to make watering Al’s Flower Pouch even easier: the Thirst Quencher.

Al’s Flower Pouch does more than display blooms – it also helps support brain tumour survivors.

The sale of every Al’s Flower Pouch supports the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Read how A.M.A. helps to Turn May Grey with the Al’s Flower Pouch

Grain Auger

The modern-day grain auger was invented by Peter Pakosh, co-founder of the Canadian Versatile tractor company, circa 1945.

Pakosh is credited with many inventions and equipment innovations and is considered an innovator in the field of agricultural machinery on a level with John Deere and Cyrus McCormick.

His brother Daniel Pakosh also had the innovation bug. He is credited with the invention of the bi-directional tractor.


Developed by Dr. Darby McGrath and her team at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, in partnership with A.M.A., the RootSmartTM propagation tray was invented to help solve the problem of root defects in tree propagation. “RootSmartTM was co-designed with growers, for growers,” said Dr. McGrath. “After five years consulting with industry leaders and studying the effects of existing propagation trays, we designed a product that helps to prevent defects and promote healthier root systems.”

Since launching the innovation in 2018, Vineland has conducted field trials comparing RootSmartTM-grown saplings with saplings grown in other propagation trays. The unique wall-less, bottomless tray has proven to produce healthier, 360º root distribution, a more fibrous root ball, and better tree establishment.

McIntosh Apple

Canadian John McIntosh discovered some surprising seeds among the brush while doing yard work on his Dundas, Ontario farm in 1811. He planted the seeds and grew the world’s first reported McIntosh apple tree. Later, his family learned to graft and breed the species and began to sell the apples locally. Years later, the family began commercial production and the McIntosh apple became a staple in North American grocery stores, making up 40% of the Canadian apple market.

Today the McIntosh apple is produced in greater quantities than any other apple in Canada and the north-eastern United States, and is grown around the world. How do you like them apples?

A.M.A.’s Organic Bucket

We’d like to add a brand-new innovation to this list! The Organic Bucket was developed by A.M.A. to help greenhouse growers meet organic production requirements in Canada. The 16” deep bucket simulates the natural growing environment of field production and its white design reduces heat in the root zone, helping to improve crop performance and consistency.

Stay tuned for our official launch of the A.M.A. Organic Bucket at the Canadian Greenhouse Conference in October 2019.

Honourable Mention

        We would like to give an honourable mention to the Caesar, Canada’s most beloved cocktail and one of our country’s most important tomato contributions to the world. Next time you ‘cheers’, thank a tomato grower!

We know that Canada is home to many other incredible agriculture and horticulture innovations and inventions that are not on this list. Tell us what we missed on Twitter at @amahort!