Buist was born near Edinburgh, Scotland on November 14, 1805.
He trained at the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens and in August of
1828, emigrated to America.
gained employment at D.
Landreth later taking a position with Henry Pratt, owner of
Lemon Hill. In 1830 he started a floral business in
Philadelphia in partnership with Thomas Hibbert. The
business focused on the importation of roses and rare plants.
After Hibbert’s death, Mr. Buist began a seed, nursery and
greenhouse business using his name. Management of the seed business
eventually passed to his son Robert junior.
was known for his work with roses and verbena and credited with
introducing the poinsettia to the United States. He
authored several books; "The American Flower-Garden
Directory" in 1832, "The Rose Manual" in 1844,
and "The Family Kitchen-Gardener" about 1847.
He passed away in Philadelphia on July 13, 1880.