“We had expected some international orders, but never thought there would be so many!” In other words, the cut hydrangeas from the Kenyan nursery Flora Delight are sold like hot cakes, says director Frans Ederveen. Together with partner Marco van Sandijk, he started experimenting with hydrangeas at the cultivation company in 2011, and in 2013 they launched the first stems on the market. A lot has happened since then. In the meantime, hydrangeas can be offered all year round and the new greenhouse is just finished. The tunnels are gradually being replaced by greenhouses.
All year round
Ederveen and Sandijk founded their company in Kenya in 2007. They then mainly cultivated buttercups and later also various summer flowers. They soon discovered the potential of the hydrangea. “It is sunny 52 weeks a year here, so it took years before the hydrangea was used to the Kenyan climate. In 2011 we could start with some cultivation tests. The results were good, and when we saw that the ‘colder period’ we had no major negative influence on the cultivation, we were convinced that we could grow the flowers throughout the year. ”
In the years that followed, they continued to adapt the hydrangeas to the Kenyan conditions and the growing area was also expanded.
From tunnels to greenhouses
All hydrangeas were always in tunnels, but after a few years it was decided to gradually move the cultivation indoors. New greenhouses have been systematically built during the past two years. Ederveen: “The cultivation benefits from the more stable humidity and the fact that we can automate more processes.” There are now around 16 hectares of greenhouses in use.
“Within the greenhouses, cultivation is divided into different departments. This ensures that we can deliver constantly. We can respond to important occasions such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day in Great Britain and Women’s Day in Russia.”
Ederveen said he always saw potential in the hydrangea market. “The worldwide cultivation of hydrangea is still small, certainly in comparison with that of roses. That is why we thought that a hydrangea that can be grown and offered all year round would be a great addition,” he told FloralDaily.com in 2016. And he seems to be right. “The demand is good and continues to run smoothly. Moreover, the demand comes from more and more countries, both within and outside of Europe.” As an icing on the cake of success, Ederveen won an award at the IFTEX’s Grower Quality Competition in the Best Grower Assorted Cut Flowers category in 2019.
Flora Delight now has six varieties in its range. “We are constantly improving our range and have recently added four new colors. Our ultimate goal is to be able to offer around 12 to 14 different colors, so that there is enough choice for our buyers.”
For the future, they naturally want to continue working on their position on the world market. In addition, even more will be invested in greenhouses and automation. For example, the grower wants to install a sort of monorail to improve internal logistics. Finally, Flora Delight, and with them the entire market, is looking for ways to extend the vase life of the hydrangeas, “because there is still much to be gained there.”