When I entered the greenhouse of Maurits Keppel, I felt the passion immediately. Peter van Delft here, your eyes on the floral industry. Today the story goes about Zinnia, a beauty for every florist. I wanted to see these flowers because I hear it's a special flower that's difficult to grow in other parts of the world. Zinnia is a real Dutch beauty. Summer flower grower Maurits Keppel grows them as cut flowers. Growing niche products sustainably with the best shelf life is Maurits' ultimate goal.
The History of Maurits Keppel
When talking to Maurits, I only get more convinced that it is a good decision to visit his greenhouse. This passionate grower finished horticultural school, now 20 years ago. And started to grow flowers from that moment on. For six years he has been doing this full-time now. His farm is in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, and his product goes to the auction every day.
Zinnia Is in Big Demand
Maurits grows his zinnia with a length of stems from 70 cm. And flowers of 5 cm. That's amazing. Every week 90 buckets go to the auction, that's wonderful, and I hope this will go on for a few months to come.
How to Condition Zinnias?
When you see the diversity of every little flower, you can't be anything else than amazed. Not one looks the same. Zinnia in bouquets gives extra added value. But how to condition them?
"It's important that they stay out of the coolers. We cut them and put them in water with chlorine, and they go to the auction right away. There it's called an exclusive uncooled flower. They are quite vulnerable and will degrade fast in cold conditions. It's also best when it's not packed and for sure not in plastic. If really necessary, packing should be in paper wrap."
Which Crops Does Maurits Grow?
Of course, Maurits grows more than just Zinnia, also Anetum, Daucus, Phacelia, and Veronica Paulina Blue. But his Zinnias are special to him. They come in several colors and he wants them to be highlighted, so florists know they can buy now. Han Fokkink chose different colors and varieties for him.
Passionate About Summer Flowers
Han Fokkink is the one that selected the colors of Zinnia for Maurits. Han believes it's important all those exclusive flowers stay on the market.
"First of all, I am passionate about summer flowers in general, and I have loved zinnia ever since I was a child. I come from a family of farmers, and when I was 12 years old, I started to grow my own flowers. Summer flowers are so nice to grow! It is a pity that the diversity in cut flowers is decreasing, especially in the range of summer flowers. Better knowledge about storage and treatment with auctions and wholesalers would improve the shelf life of this product group, resulting in a better image, more willingness to grow and innovate summer flowers, and therefore a wider assortment. That would be nice."
Petri Rijsdijk at the Farm
Petri is one of the florists I'm always amazed by. In Leiden, Netherlands, she runs her business, Fiori Bloemen. She's so positive and energetic. And she's eager to put these zinnias in the spotlight.
"A zinnia is so extraordinary to use in a bouquet, it's different, elegant, and classy, I really love it."
Well, I hope you loved this story about the zinnia, a niche product that has to stay on the market. Keep on buying these beauties.