The Institute has existed since 1927. On the 2nd of March of that year decree no. 2376-A/1927 of the Ministry of Agriculture founded the “Research Station for Ornamental Gardening” on the former estate of Count Ernst Emanuel Silva-Tarouca in Průhonice. This research station was part of the wider network of “State Agricultural Experimental Stations”. Prof. Bohumil Kafka was the director. At the time, the Institute built on gardening traditions and connected even with the activities of the Dendrological Society. The focus on horticulture and landscaping, horticultural production and use of greenery in urban areas and landscapes has continued as is reflected in the Institute’s current name. Since the new millennium, the name of Count Silva-Tarouca has been symbolically incorporated into the Institute’s name. He was the founder of the first Průhonice Park, as well as the founder and first president of “Dendrological Society to support the theory of trees and garden art in Austria-Hungary” (1908), which after 1922 became the “Czechoslovak Dendrological Society”. He was also the author of several books on trees and gardening.
After 1936 this Institute was reorganized into the “Research Institute of Gardening in Průhonice”. As the name suggests, this institute from its inception had several horticultural specializations. In the early 1950s these specializations would be transferred to other independent research institutes in Olomouc (vegetable production) and Holouvousy (fruit production). After the Second World War, which was the Institute’s first critical period the Institute engaged almost exclusively in areas of ornamental horticultural research. In 1946 the Institute was renamed as the “Research Institute of Ornamental Gardening” (VUOZ) associated with the cultivation company Oseva, falling under the Czechoslovak state farms. Five years later the Czechoslovak Dendrological Society ended and their gardens (the current Dendrological Garden) were taken over by the Institute, which again fell under the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1955 the Institute was included under the Czechoslovak Academy of Agricultural Sciences and began work on a research project ”Evaluation of trees and flowers for horticultural use”. The result of this project was an extensive series of publications on the inventory of trees in castle parks in Bohemia and Moravia, and publications on trees and ornamental plants by author Ing. Karel Hieke.
After being under the Czechoslovak Academy of Agricultural Sciences, in 1962 the Institute, came back under direct management of the then Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, where it faced another critical period of its existence. Until then, the Institute, still under the direction of Prof. Kavka, was the only guarantor of the development of the former Průhonice Tarouca estate and gardens as well as of dendrological research on ornamental trees for castle parks. The maintenance of the Průhonice Park and the methods used to renew vegetation were on a highly specialized and aesthetic level. As of the 1st of January 1962 the Park including the castle was put under the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, respectively the Botanical Institute of the Academy of Sciences, established here as a merging of the Průhonice and Brno Geobotanical Laboratories. Průhonice was considered an appropriate place for the newly forming institution for several reasons. The first was the park and its range of valuable tree species. Secondly, the National Museum’s Botany Department’s extensive herbarium was housed here. Finally and paradoxically, thanks to the Průhonice Research Institute of Ornamental Gardening Průhonice was known as a center of agricultural and horticultural research.
VÚOZ, however, did not cease to exist and two years later it became part of the Czech Academy of Agriculture. In the second half of the 1960s, Prof. Jaromir Scholz created “Zoning of ornamental trees and their communities in Czechoslovakia” which is valid and recognized until now. Since the 1970s the Institute has gradually modernized the structure of its research and renovated the complex’s historical courtyard and land around the Black Pond north of Průhonice that previously belonged to the Dendrological Society. Here, in the second half of the 1970s a field research site for landscaping and dendrological research was created as partial replacement of the Průhonice Park. The purpose of this research was to gather, verify and document genepools of ornamental plants and show the use of various plant species in garden and landscape work. At that time the Institute was led by Prof. Jiri Mareček, who became director in 1971 and among other things expanded the landscaping department, which faced significant complex tasks, e.g. “Protection and development of the environment in the Prague agglomeration” and “Reducing the negative impact of human factors from agriculture and food production”.
In 1977 following Průhonice’s First Republic and postwar tradition of breeding ornamental plants (rhododendrons, azaleas, dwarf asters, tulips, chrysanthemums, gerberas, etc.) the breeding activities of the Institute were strengthened. The Institute was renamed as the “Research and Breeding Institute of Ornamental Gardening in Průhonice” and four breeding stations were added as the Institute became part of VHJ Sempra Prague. New and efficient technology for cultivation and protection of ornamental plants in greenhouses was also tested. In 1979 the Institute began a consulting service for ornamental gardening with a branch in Brno. In the 1980s the Institute’s phytopathological research that had already existed for about thirty years was also expanded to include research on pesticides and herbicides as well as mycological research. Non-production functions of greenery have been studied and green belt planting of trees in the agricultural landscape and along roads was implemented. In 1984 the Institute was designated as the national expert information center on ornamental gardening and application of greenery in urban and landscape environments. At about the same time, the Institute began to develop a program of biomonitoring environmental pollution (e.g., a contract with the Prague and Bratislava Motorway Directorate to monitor heavy metal pollution of soil and crops around newly constructed highways). At the end of the 1980s, the Institute also began research on using explanted cultures as a new progressive method to propogate and treat plants, as well as a possibility for cell and genetic manipulation.
In 1991 the Institute under the leadership of a new director Ing. Josef Dostál and old-new name the “Research Institute of Ornamental Gardening” was transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture to the newly created Ministry of the Environment. This was a significant turning point in the Institute’s history, influencing its further activities and future existence. Separate offices of landscape research in Brno and Karviná joined the institute and its activities gradually changed according to the momentary requirements of the new founder. Since 1993, the Institute has expanded its research to include biomass as a renewable energy source with an emphasis on field testing a range of fast-growing trees and later also an economic assessment of biomass feasibility as well as analysis of the potential impacts of short rotation plantations on biodiversity. Since the mid-1990s biodiversity research has also focused on conservation programs of endangered species of plants and trees, using both traditional methods of propagation and micropropagation techniques and DNA analysis. In late 1998 Miloš Šnytr was entrusted with the management of VÚOZ , who in 2000 was replaced by Prof. Ivo Tábor. That same year the Institute’s name was changed to the “Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening”.
In 2006, the Institute, which falls under the environmental sector, had to defend its existence again. According to the founder’s wishes, the traditional gardening focus was downplayed and the Institute’s activities expanded to include other research fields- mainly due to the addition of the Brno branch AOPK. These fields included mainly research on landscape ecology with emphasis on landscape character assessment, on land-use change and documentation TSES and forest ecology research, especially monitoring and study of developmental dynamics of natural temperate forests. The Institute had already had experience with solving large-scale research projects, with mainly the research programs of both branches and the R & D project "Atlas of the Czech Landscape". As with other research institutes, including those of the Academy of Sciences, as of the 1st of January 2007 and according to statute nr. 341/2005 Coll., the Institute was transformed from a state contributory organization into a public research institution as is reflected in its current name.