Robert F. Polomski

Robert Polomski, Ph.D., Clemson UniversityHorticulture and Arboriculture

Phone:  (864) 656-2604
Fax:      (864) 656-4960
Website: Clemson's Arboriculture & Community Forestry


Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
259 Poole Ag. Center
P. O. Box 340310
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634-0310


B.S.--Plant Science, Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University
M.S.--Horticulture, Virginia Tech
Ph.D.--Plant & Environmental Sciences, Clemson University

Description of Duties:  50% Extension; 50% Teaching


Consumer/Commercial Horticulture and Arboriculture

  • "Garden Works" columnist, Anderson Independent Mail.
  • Produce educational programs (seminars, webinars, and workshops) for green industry professionals engaged in landscape management and arboricultural activities.
  • Support the Clemson Extension Home & Garden Information Center (1.888.656.9988) staff as horticulture specialists.
  • Contribute content to extension and respond to queries.
  • Engage in print/electronic media efforts that include regular contributions to newspapers, magazines, trade journals, and web sites.
  • Conduct a live, call-in gardening program, Your Day!, produced by Clemson University Radio Productions and broadcast on the SC Educational Radio Network (SC and portions of NC, GA, and TN).
  • Diagnose and recommend solutions to plant problems submitted to the Plant Problem Clinic (Plant Diagnostic Information System®).

South Carolina Botanical Garden Liaison

  • Develop mutually beneficial partnerships among Extension personnel (agents, specialists, and volunteers), University faculty and students, and other organization to enhance teaching, research, and outreach efforts that lead to awareness, understanding, and new discoveries.


  • Landscape Plants--HORT 3030 (3 h), Lab Instructor/Guest lecturer, Fall.  Students identify and become familiar with the aesthetic and functional value of ~210 ornamentals.  They create a full color plant i.d. journal during the 16-week semester.  I conduct weekly landscape plant i.d. labs in the field (1 or 2 lab sessions with 16-20 students) and assess weekly assignments, quizzes, and final lab exam.
  • Urban Tree Care--HORT (FOR) 4270, 6270 (3 h), Instructor, Spring.  Students (~28; primarily landscape architecture students [LA and MLA], environmental horticulture, agricultural education, and architecture) learn the principles and professional practices of arboriculture and apply them in the design, implementation and/or maintenance of sustainable environments.  Topics include the benefits and challenges of trees in the built environment; young tree selection and planting; tree structure, function and responses; urban soil management techniques; urban environment stresses; pruning and training young and mature trees; tree protection before, during, and after construction; arboricultural law; tree health assessment; and tree removal.  Course includes guest lecturers from industry/academia and culminates in a hands-on field trip to Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories, Charlotte, NC.
  • National Association of Landscape Professionals - HORT 4000 (1-3 h), Co-instructor, Spring -  Students acquire an understanding of the NALP and prepare for and participate in several of the 28 competitive events held at the annual National Collegiate Landscape Competition during weekly two-hour-long sessions; further their knowledge of career opportunities in landscape horticulture; and enhance their interviewing/networking kills. 

Research Interests

  • Pest-resistant shrubs and trees in sustainable landscapes
  • Evaluation and promotion of noteworthy, sustainable landscape plants
  • Tree establishment and maintenance in urban environments

Selected Recent Publications

Articles, Bulletins (Extension), Chapters, and Books

  • Bridges, K. and B. Polomski. 2015. Osmanthus americanus. The SC Nurseryman. March/April: p. 38-39. (See article).
  • Polomski, B. and M.R. Ridgeway. 2015. Lois Coker Japanese camellia: a wintertime gem rooted in South Carolina. The SC Nurseryman. Jan/Feb: p. 4-5. (See article).
  • Polomski, B. 2014. Book review: A four-season southern garden by Betty Montgomery. The South Carolina Nurseryman (July/Aug 2014), p. 18. (See article).
  • Polomski, B. 2014. The Science, Politics, and Art of Urban Tree Selection. Tree Care Industry Magazine (June) 25(6)22-26. (See article)
  • Polomski, B. 2014. "Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable." Carolina Gardener 26(5):54 (See article)
  • Polomski, B. 2014. Attractive edibles; creating a landscape that tastes as good as it looks with crossover edible fruits. Carolina Gardener 26(3):45-48. (See article)
  • Polomski, B. 2014. Month-by-month Gardening in the Carolinas (revised). Cool Springs Press, Nashville, TN.
  • Polomski, B. and T. Polomski. 2013. "Share your tree inventory with a simple and inexpensive web-accessible approach." City Trees, the online magazine of the Society of Municipal Arborists. Nov/Dec 2013 49(6):12-14. (See article).
  • Bost, T. and B. Polomski. 2012. Carolinas Gardener's Handbook; All You Need to Know to Plan, Plant, & Maintain a Carolina Garden. Cool Springs Press, Franklin, TN (EAN (ISBN-13): 9781591864837; ISBN: 1591864836). 272 pp.
  • White, S. A., M. D. Taylor, R. F. Polomski, and J. P. Albano. 2011. Constructed wetlands: A how to guide for nurseries. Environmental Resource Management Research Group, Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative, USDA-ARS, HRI, SCA #58-6618-7-216 (27 p.).
  • Polomski, R. 2009. Forward. S. C. Smart Gardener Handbook; Down-to-earth tips, guidance, and information on how to ‘go green’ in your backyard. SC Dept. of Health and Environmental Control Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling, Columbia, SC.
  • Polomski, B. and J. Adelberg. 2009. Plant growth and development (1-33; Ch. 1). In: E. Vincent (ed.), Certified Nursery Professional Training Manual, 3rd ed. (available from the South Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association [SCNLA], 4661 Crystal Drive Columbia, SC 29206).
  • Polomski, B., R. Hassell, D. R. Layne, and E. Vincent. 2009. Home gardening  (1-53; Ch. 14). In: E. Vincent (ed.), Certified Nursery Professional Training Manual, 3rd ed.
  • McCarty, B. and R. F. Polomski. 2009. Home Lawn Management in South Carolina. Ext. Circ. 687. Clemson University Public Service Publishing, Clemson University, Clemson, SC. 79 p.
  • Production Practices for an Environmentally Friendly Nursery Industry. 2008. J. S. Owen, Jr. and S. A. White (eds.). Environmental Resource Management Research Group, Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative, USDA-ARS HRI, SCA#58-6618-2-2027. B. Polomski (contributor).
  • Polomski, B. 2008. Ag Profiles. Bob Polomski: Horticulturist. The South Carolina Nurseryman (Jan/Feb), p. 16. (See article).
  • Vincent, E. and C. Wells. 2008. SC Stars. Bob Polomski (ed.) Colorful brochure that describes the discovery and culture of SC-derived commercially available, unique vines, shrubs, and trees. 14 p.

Published Abstracts and Posters

  • Simons, J.M., T.J. Straka, L.R. Gering, and R.F. Polomski. 2013. Integrating management and economics courses across the forest resources curricula. In Proceedings of 2013 Southern Forest Economics Workshop; March 10-12, 2013; Auburn, AL. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State University, Department of Forestry, p. 154-166.
  • Gering, L.R., J.M. Simons, T.J. Straka, and R.F. Polomski. 2012. Integrating management and economics courses across the forest resources curricula. Abstr. in Proceedings of National Convention, Society of American Foresters; October, 2012; Spokane, WA.
  • Massey, H. F., J. P. Chastain, T. O. Owino, R. F. Polomski, and K. Moore. 2011. Chemical and physical properties of potting media containing varying amounts of composted poultry litter. Abstr. ASABE Annual International Meeting, Louisville, Kentucky, August 7-10 (accepted).
  • Polomski, R. F., S. A. White, D. Bielenberg, W. C. Bridges, S. J. Klaine, J. P. Albano, and T. Whitwell. 2010. Effect of N:P ratio of influent on biomass and nutrient recovery of Typha latifolia and Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ in a laboratory-scale constructed wetland. Abstr. and poster. Land Grant and Sea Grant National Water Conf., Hilton Head Island, SC, 21-25 Feb.
  • Owen, J. S. Jr., J. Albano, W. L. Bauerle, T. Bilderback, R. F. Polomski, S. A. White, P. C. Wilson, and T. Yeager. 2010. Nursery production technologies for enhancing water quality protection and water conservation. Land Grant and Sea Grant National Water Conf. Hilton Head Island, SC, 21-25 Feb.

Journal Articles

  • Pile, L.S., G.G. Wang, R. Polomski, G. Yarrow, and C.M. Stuyck. 2015. Potential for nonnative endoxoochorous seed dispersal by white-tailed deer in a Southeastern maritime forest. Invasive Plant Science and Management 8(1):32-43.
  • Simons, J.M., T.J. Straka, L.R. Gering, and R.F. Polomski. 2014. Resistance to integrating management and economics courses across the natural resources and agricultural curricula. NACTA Journal 58(1):46-53.
  • Gering, L., J. Simons, T. Straka, and R. Polomski. 2012. Integrating management and economics courses across the forest resources curricula. Journal of Forestry 110(8):532.
  • Polomski, R. F., D. G. Bielenberg, T. Whitwell, M. D. Taylor, W. C. Bridges, and S. J. Klaine.  2009.  Nitrogen and phosphorus remediation by three floating aquatic macrophytes in greenhouse-based laboratory-scale subsurface constructed wetlands.  Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 197:223-232.
  • Polomski, R. F., M. D. Taylor, D. G. Bielenberg, W. C. Bridges, S. J. Klaine, and T. Whitwell.  2008.  Differential nitrogen and phosphorus recovery by five aquatic garden species in laboratory-scale subsurface-constructed wetlands.  Hortscience 43:868-874.
  • Polomski, R. F., M. D. Taylor, D. G. Bielenberg, T. Whitwell, W. C. Bridges, and S. J. Klaine.  2007.  Nutrient recovery by seven aquatic garden plants in a laboratory-scale subsurface-constructed wetland. HortScience 42:1674-1680.

Recent Awards/Recognition

2012 Rowland P. Alston, Sr., ’42  Award for Excellence in Public Relations, Clemson University
2011 Clemson University Board of Trustees Award for Faculty Excellence, Clemson University
Certified Arborist, International Society of Arboriculture.
2009  Notable State Document Award, Home Lawn Management in South Carolina (B. McCarty and B. Polomski, Ext. Circ. 687, Clemson University Public Service Publishing), conferred by SC State Library to “recognize state government publications of outstanding merit and usefulness to the citizens of South Carolina.”
2009 Clemson University Board of Trustees Award for Faculty Excellence, Clemson University.
2008 Clemson University College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences Outstanding Staff Employee Award.
2008 National Winner, Book (SC Master Gardener Training Manual, EC 678, 2007), Extension Materials Award, American Society for Horticultural Science, Orlando, FL.
2008 National Finalist, Radio Category, National Association of Agricultural County Agents (NACAA), Greensboro, NC.
2008 National Winner, Personal Column Category, NACAA Communications Awards Program, Greensboro, NC.
2008 National Winner, Bound Book Category, NACAA Communications Awards Program, Greensboro, NC.
2008 First place state winner, Publication and Video/TV Presentation, SC Association of County Agricultural Agents (SCACAA) Communications Awards.