What makes VG Orchids
a well-respected top grower of phalaenopsis? Is it their wide assortment with extraordinary varieties? Their innovative power with Tiny Dolls and colored phalaenopsis? Their constant delivery of top-quality? Why not all of the above? Let's see for ourselves during a visit to their nursery in De Lier, Netherlands, where co-owner André van Geest speaks about his innovative nursery, his ambitious ideas, and how this matches with his close relationship to breeder Floricultura
Never a Dull Moment
Despite the fact that the month of June is running at its end, and summer holidays are at hand, the lively buzz in the warehouse suggests that it will never be quiet here. There's never a dull moment at VG Orchids, that's for sure.
André van Geest, one of VG Orchids' owners: "Back in 1978 my father Cor van Geest started this nursery with gerberas, but switched to phalaenopsis after a few years. He figured that growing these plants would result in a somewhat more quiet and steady situation at the nursery. This may have been true for a short while, but with all developments in floriculture, also growing to notch phalaenopsis is hard labor."
The Beauty of Growing Orchids
André: "I always say that you have to be crazy about the product. I consider it a hobby that has grown bigger and bigger. By any means, orchids are beautiful products. Not only I think that, but there are many who agree on this. And hearing all that appreciation makes me more enthusiastic too. It is also the hunt for new colors, new varieties, and new crossings, that makes growing phalaenopsis so special.
I wish people would value more how much time and effort we put into the plants before they finally reach the shop and the consumer. It aches sometimes to see that this beautiful product is sometimes offered against ridiculous prices in supermarkets or hardware stores. It's true: it is possible to grow a phalaenopsis plant in a speedy six months' time, but you will not get the quality that we produce here in 45 to 48 weeks. It simply costs more time and money to make a stronger plant that lasts longer."
Three Product Lines
VG Orchids aims at three completely different product lines within their segment. This shows the entrepreneurship and ambition of this company. Innovative ideas are never far away. André van Geest: "We aim at having varieties that you don't find everywhere, unique species. One product line is the phalaenopsis in pots of 6cms, the so-called 'Tiny Dolls
', the second line consists of white plants we grow for dyeing phalaenopsis
, branded as VG Colours
, and the third line is two and a half hectares of various specialties, unique varieties."
"We sell our phalaenopsis to all corners of Europe. Many colored plants go to the UK, France, and Eastern Europe. Our Tiny Dolls and 12cm pots really go everywhere.
Innovation is one of the pillars that makes VG Orchids stand out as a grower. André: "There are many examples of the innovative power of VG Orchids. For instance, the aqua@ pots that we have developed for our Tiny Dolls. This is a little pot that we click onto the nursery pot so that a water reservoir is created. Using this smart water system the Tiny Dolls receive enough water for 10 to 12 days on the shelf of a florist."
Another example of the drive to innovate can be found in the VG Colours
concept. André: "We were the inventors of this technique. We constantly try to find additional colors to the spectrum, the most famous of them is our 'Royal Blue
'. It is not just putting the plant in a paint liquid. There is a formula for that. The darker the color, the more difficult it gets. Black is not possible yet, but who knows? Our latest color is called 'Bonaire', a beautiful mix of the Caribbean sea and sun. Nice to add is that we have also found a way to color our Tiny Dolls
Cooperating With Floricultura
Since the start of phalaenopsis growing by Van Geest, about 35 years ago, there has been a tight connection on several levels to breeder Floricultura
. Many of the varieties in VG Orchids were invented by Floricultura, and when VG Orchids develops a novelty of their own it is always tested and propagated at the Floricultura laboratory.
André van Geest: The varieties we grow from Floricultura are mostly from their Standard assortment
. And we grow some of the big lip Lingua series
and a few of the new extraordinary vibrant Eccentrix series
André: "The first breeder that my father Cor went to see when he switched from gerberas to phalaenopsis was Jan Post, at that time one of Floricultura's owners. Since then, there has always been a good understanding between VG Orchids and Floricultura. Our companies have the same mentality and a bond of trust. They are a very solid breeder that has both feet firmly on the ground. Floricultura is never too 'pushy' or 'shouty' with a lot of fuss but really collaborates with the grower to help you select the right plants that fit into your business strategy. They do not promote their products towards wholesalers and florists, but with their new website
that comprehensively shows all available products they are now able to help growers better with their promotion. Floricultura has made big steps in this that are very helpful for growers, like us."
André van Geest
When You Would Be a Florist...
A relevant question for all breeders and growers is: "What if I were a florist...?" VG Orchids
' primary sales channel is the (exporting) wholesaler. Many promotion efforts are put in that direction. However, André van Geest and his team realize very well that florists as decision-makers further up the floral chain play a very important role: "Florists have a great eye for color combinations and are, like nobody else, able to add decorative value to a product with a trendy pot. That's why wholesalers are invited to open the links to the widely available assortment for their florist customers to order. It's a win-win, and they will love it. This way, VG Orchids will be even better to finetune their assortment towards the whole market, wholesalers, and florists.