BLOG: Growerreport Opti-flor
The apple-green logo might be small, but it represents a major brand in the world of indoor plants. Opti-flor’s orchids have made a name for themselves among exporters, florists and garden centres, so I’m looking forward to a glimpse behind the scenes. Co-owner Marco Hendriks is going to do the honours and show me around.
How would you describe Opti-flor in a few words?
Opti-flor is the brand that drives everything we do, and central to all our work. It’s a brand that represents innovation and the highest quality moth orchids (phalaenopsis). The concepts we develop help the specialist trade stand out from general retailers. Quality is always more important than quantity. The passion for our plants and the specialist trade is intertwined with our corporate culture.
The company has an interesting history. How did Opti-flor come into existence?
My grandfather started the nursery in 1928, and grew everything from cauliflower to tobacco. When my cousin René and I took over the nursery in the mid-1990s, it had been a tomato farm for many years. We grew top quality products, but the world of tomatoes is all about quantity rather than quality. Since creating something that stands out is in our blood, and our dream was to make a name for ourselves with quality and innovation, we started looking for a different crop. In the late 1990s, we decided to grow moth orchids, and set ourselves a new course: “At the top within 3 years.” At the time, this bold statement was published in a trade journal. It wasn’t appreciated by existing moth orchid growers, but fortunately we were able to live up to our words.
“It was a bold statement, but fortunately we were able to
live up to our words.”
What does it take to continuously supply top-quality moth orchids?
Patience, space and care!
Patience: we give the plants the time they need to grow, During this period, the roots and leaves develop. These are the basis of a strong orchid. Then we give them plenty of time for further growth in the colder stage. We know exactly how to cool our greenhouses. It does mean that the plants need more time to grow, but it results in thicker branches, larger flowers, and a longer shelf life.
Space: the plants are given plenty of space to grow. We could fit in more plants per square metre and grow more, but here once again our mantra is quality over quantity.
Care: we look after our plants right from the young plant material to the packaging process. Obviously, the last thing we want is to damage a perfect plant while it’s prepared for shipment.
Innovation is the other important pillar. How innovative are you?
We’ve already created 25 unique concepts, the Singolo being one example. This moth orchid, which in terms of plant structure resembles a slipper orchid (paphiopedilum), is the brainchild of René. He has an incredible number of creative ideas that he develops with his team. By developing these products, we want to give garden centres an opportunity to offer innovative products and choose the concepts that best suit their customers. We introduce new concepts every year.
We’re going to introduce a concept with a scented moth orchid called ‘Aromio’ soon. I also have something else new; the much loved Tablo moth orchid, a very compact plant with large white flowers, will soon be available in various other colours!
How do you see the future?
We want to work even more closely with garden centres. Our concepts such as the Aquo perfectly reflect what consumers want, but we’re still looking for the best way to provide background information at the point of sale. We still see enormous potential for garden centres to successfully sell special moth orchids. It’s our job to get our buyers and their end customers to understand the power of our products.
In addition, we’re expanding our range, and introducing other orchid species one by one. Examples include Epidendrum, Cattleya and Maxilaria, beautiful orchids that we’re slowly but surely going to place on the market with the quality expected of Opti-flower. It will conclude what I started with. We’re doing everything possible to make sure this brand is built to last. Even though René and I have to retire at some point, Opti-flor will carry on.
Published on: 18 November 2020