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Dr. John M. Ruter

University of Georgia

Professor - Nursery Crops

University of Georgia, Department of Horticulture

4604 Research Way, Tifton, GA 31793

Phone: 229-386-3907, Fax: 229-386-7133


Dr. Ruter is a Professor with The University of Georgia and has been with the Department of Horticulture at the Tifton Campus since 1990. He is originally from southern California and received his B.S. degree in Ornamental Horticulture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1984. He received his M.S. degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from the University of Tennessee in 1986 and completed his Ph.D. in Horticultural Science at the University of Florida in 1989.

Dr. Ruter currently has an 80% research, 20% extension appointment. Research and extension activities are focused on nursery crop production and plant breeding and selection for the southeastern United States. He is known for his research on container production systems and as a plantsman. Production research is currently being conducted on reducing phosphorus losses and water use in container nurseries, nickel and copper deficiency on river birch and loropetalum, plant growth regulation and heat stress physiology.

Current research objectives for plant breeding and selection are:

  1. To develop and evaluate new plants for southeastern landscapes which have new horticultural characteristics or improved environmental tolerances.


  1. To develop sterile forms of popular ornamental plants which will not be invasive.

  1. Development of Camellia oleifera, Tea oil, as a new oil crop for the southeastern United States.

Dr. Ruter has evaluated ~ 300 Ilex taxa as well as the following groups of plants: Acer, Cotoneaster,Evergreen Ferns, Gardenia, Hydrangea, Illicium, Ornamental Conifers, Ornamental Grasses, Prunus, Rhaphiolepis, Spiraea, Syringa, and Viburnum. Other Asian taxa are also being evaluated for ornamental potential. Tea oil is healthy cooking oil, high in oleic acid, with numerous other industrial and pharmacological uses. Dr. Ruter has been in charge of the development of the Coastal Plain Research Arboretum, focusing on native flora of the Georgia coastal plain, since 1991.

Dr. Ruter has published over 300 scientific and popular articles. He co-authored the popular high school and community college text “Introduction to Horticulture” which is now in its 4th edition. Among Dr. Ruter’s awards and honors are the “Award of Merit” given by the Garden Clubs of Georgia for his work in preserving and promoting native plants. In 1999 he was named “Educator of the Year” by the Georgia Green Industry Association and also received the “Porter Henegar Memorial Award” from the Southern Nursery Association for outstanding contributions to environmental horticulture research. In 2000 Dr. Ruter received the D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Research given by the University of Georgia. Dr. Ruter received the 2002 Distinguished Achievement Award for Nursery Crops given by the American Society for Horticultural Science as well as the William F. Kosar Award from the Holly Society of America which is given to an outstanding plantsman for contributions to the hybridization, evaluation, selection, or introduction of hollies.





Dr. Bill Bauerle

Dr. Richard Beeson

Dr. Ted Bilderback

Dr. Susan D. Day

Sarah Dickinson

Dr. Roger Harris

Dr. Chuan Hong

Dr. John Lea-Cox

Mary Lorscheider

Dr. David Ross

Dr. Andrew Ristvey

Dr. John M. Ruter

Dr. Tom Yeager