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Madiba Flower Power!

Madiba is one of the Santini brands from breeder Dekker Chrysanten. Small, and many (up to thirty!) colourful flowers with a long vaselife, and excellent quality are a few of the most important aspects of these Santini. The amount of stems that can be grown grow per square meter make them very interesting for growers to take on. But did you know they also have a special story?

All the cuttings that lie at the base of the Madiba Santinis come from Tanzania. The mother plants are grown at the foot of the Kilimanjaro by 900 Dekker Chrysanten employees. The cuttings are transported to the Netherlands, where several Dutch growers grow them into the high quality Santini that we buy at Hukra.

Madiba is a brand that strongly connects to its African roots. The name of the brand was the nickname for Nelson Mandela and all varieties are named after African cities. But that’s not all. Madiba supports various social projects in Tanzania. One of those is the Sengerema Foundation, which aims to support underprivileged youths in finishing their education and helps them start their own businesses.

The Madiba Santini are available in every kind of flower shape, ranging from deco to daisy and pompon shaped flowers. Dekker makes conscious choices when it comes to the assortment. Only the best varieties are introduced to the market.

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The three Dutch growers that grow Madiba are Westeringh Flowers, Kees de Jongh, and Kwekerij Monnikenwaard. These three growers work closely together to bring the best flowers onto the market, together with Dekker Chrysanten. All of them have been growing Madiba Santini for a good amount of years. All growers hold the MPS A+ certificate among others and are FSI compliant, which means they work according to the standards of the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative.

For the occasion of learning all about Madiba, we visited Kees de Jongh. Kees has been growing Madiba Santini since 2010. He has invested a lot into sustainability. His modern nursery is fully equipped with Led lighting, solar panels have been installed on the rooftop, and organic pest control is used. Kees is very passionate about the flowers he grows and involved in every step of the process. From growing to checking the trolleys that leave the nursery, he does it all to ensure the Madiba santini’s are the best quality.

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Montana Lisianthus

In the village of Poeldijk, the Netherlands, you can find Montana Lisianthus. This company has been growing amazing cut flower Lisianthus for over thirty years. Their innovative assortment is full of beautiful and exclusive varieties.

Varieties are selected with care, making sure that whatever the nursery brings to the market is exclusive and of the highest quality. Owners Frank and Corinne both have grown up in the horticultural sector, and as such have a lot of knowledge and are not afraid to try something new.

The assortment spans about 30 varieties, that are grown spread out over the seasons. Darker, warmer colours in Autumn and Winter, and brighter, lighter colours in Spring and Summer. The company looks to introduce new varieties on the market each year, and do this in close collaborations with their breeders. Newer additions to the assortment are the colour changing Blue Chateau, and the lovely freckled variety Stracciatella Lavender.

Other nice varieties that are different from the norm is the Botanic line in various colours and the much loved Bohemian Choco.

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Montana Lisianthus grows their Lisianthus with commitment to the environment. Their greenhouse is full of energy reducing led lights and they are Global G.A.P. certified. Organic pesticides and natural enemies are used to keep out disease and pests.

The flowers that we see in the vase, arrive at the nursery as small plants. They are planted in steamed soil. In a span of approximately eight weeks – depending on the variety – the plants grow and develop the beautiful flowers that we know. The flowers are grown with extreme care, planted wider apart than is usual to allow them to develop heavy quality stems. After harvesting, the flowers are immediately placed in water with extra flower food. After harvesting, the soil is cleaned and steamed again, so that it’s ready for the next batch of flowers.

Not afraid to try something new? Alongside their regular assortment, Montana Lisianthus also has a dyed collection, spanning 16 colours, created with organic pigments!

Montana Lisianthus’ assortment can be found in our web shop.

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Care tips

  • Cut the ends of the stem, and place the flowers in clean water. Make sure that the vase/bucket is really clean and make sure that the leaves don’t touch the water.
  • Flower food is a must for Lisianthus! It ensures for a long vase life. When refreshing the water, add new flower food.
  • Keep the flowers away from direct sunlight or draft.

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It’s Skimmia time!

Skimmia… What do you think of when you hear the name? The red or greenish flower buds? A hardy autumn and winter shrub that graces us with colour in the darker days of the year? Or… is it the perfect filler for your bouquet or floral arrangements?

Skimmia is mostly grown as a garden shrub, but a couple of growers in the Netherlands also grow it as a cut flower! F. Kuipers has been growing Skimmia for decades, first as a garden plant, but nowadays brothers Ron and Sietse grow it as a cut flower. They specialize in growing high quality flowers in their nursery in Boskoop. Almost all of the Skimmia that we buy at Hukra comes from this nursery.

About one third of the entire production is sold as regular flowers, and two thirds are sold around Christmas time in a variety of painted colours.

Growing Skimmia flowers takes two years. Depending on the variety, the plants are placed into soils plugs, or directly into the pot. Rubella is a variety of which the cuttings are placed directly into the pot, as it is able to develop and grow its roots very fast. Other varieties are placed into the soil plugs, where they are able to develop their roots much better than when being placed directly into the pot. After a couple of weeks, the soil plugs with cuttings are placed into the pot and the plant is allowed to grow fully. The pots are filled for about 90% with soil, and topped off with a layer of fine chopped wood chips. These wood chips are a very dry material that stop moss and weeds from growing on the soil. The first year the plants stay in the greenhouse.

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In the first year, the Skimmia grows and develops its first flowers. These flowers are removed, and from those points new stems develop. Removing those first flowers is a very important and necessary step, otherwise the Skimmia doesn’t grow to the correct length needed for cut flowers!

After a year in the greenhouse, the plants are moved outside, where they stay another year. Placing the plants outside causes them to harden, giving them their sturdy stems and leaves that Skimmia are known for. The plants are placed in such a way that there is enough space between the plants, so the light can reach all the stems. This way, enough flowers can develop on the plant.

After two years, when Autumn comes rolling around and the flowers are fully grown, it’s time to start harvesting them from the plant! The stems are cut and collected, sorted, and bundled in such a way so that each bunch contains ten Skimmia flowers. The flowers are packed and transported to the auction, or directly to the customer.

But what happens with the cut off plants? It turns out, Skimmia is a fully circular product! The pots are emptied and send back to their producer to be recycled. And the left over soil and Skimmia roots are processed and turned into compost.

But that’s not all! Because of its hardiness, Skimmia is not very susceptible to diseases. It’s only plagues that it need protection from and F. Kuipers does this through the use of natural enemies. No pesticides are needed! In fact, the company has perfected the use of this form of organic pest control through careful studies and even cooperation with students of the University of Maastricht! F. Kuipers holds and MPS A certificate.

Want to buy these amazing Skimmia? You can find them in our webshop!

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Emiel de Jong – Ilex Magic!

Emiel de Jong is an Ilex grower located in Boskoop, and is known for growing amazing quality Ilex in a variety of colours. On the nursery of 10 hectares, Emiel grows seven different varieties of Ilex Verticillata. Everybody knows Ilex for their colourful berries, but before you get these amazing branches in your hands, they have had quite the unusual journey!

Ilex are a shrub that grow outside in the field. Only the female plants produce berries and they need their male counterparts in their vicinity to do that. So there are typically always a few male plants planted in between the females. Every year during springtime, a local beekeeper installs hives on the grounds of the nursery, so that the bees will aid with the pollination. When the plants develop their berries, nets are installed, to make sure birds can’t get to them.

The Ilex branches that we work with are already two years old! When they grow on the plant, the stem only develops leaves in the first year. It’s during the second year that it starts developing side branches. In the summer, the plant flowers and from those flowers it develops its berries. These start developing around August and from September on, the branches are cut.

The traditional red Ilex is usually only available around Christmas, and before that there are yellow and orange varieties available, like Golden Verboom, Oudijk’s Orange, Ilexia Julia, and Ilexia Victoria, which look amazing in Autumn bouquets and arrangements!

After cutting, the branches are hosed down with water and packed in plastic, and left for at least one to two weeks, depending on the variety. During this time the leaves will turn black and fall off. Then the branches are sorted and packed, and made ready for transport to the auction.

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New Ilex varieties are not easy to come by. Unlike with other flowers and plants, they are not cross bred.  Sometimes an existing shrub gives branches with berries in new colours, and from these cuttings the new variety is grown. This is a process that can take up to 15 years before there are enough plants and stems developed for a variety to be introduced to the market!

Ilex are perennials that can last a very long time! Some of the Ilex plants in Emiel’s nursery are between 50 and 60 years old! Isn’t that amazing? The plants also don’t really need any form of fertilizer. They just need water! It’s not necessary to move them or refresh the soil. To counter plagues and disease organic pest control is used. In short, Ilex is a product that is rather environmentally friendly!

You can find these gorgeous Ilex varieties in our web shop!

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Care tips:

  • Use a clean and sharp knife or cutters to cut the stems at an angle.
  • Remove any excess leaves or berries, so they don’t touch the water.
  • Ilex don’t need flower food. Just tab water and a clean vase! Of course, if you work them into an arrangement with other flowers, it’s okay to use flower food.
  • Be aware of berries that have fallen off, they can leave stains.
  • Ilex have a vase life between 7-21 days.

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Euphorbia by Luiten Flowers

When Autumn comes rolling around, it’s time for Euphorbia! Strictly seasonal and a challenge to grow, Euphorbia Fulgens is a bit of a niche flower. But we love niche products here at Hukra, and we love learning all about them! Euphorbia is grown by only a handful of growers, who have mastered the art of growing it over the years. Luiten Flowers is one of those growers, and they have been growing Euphorbia for twenty years! 

The journey of an Euphorbia flower starts as a cutting. Luiten Flowers has their own mother plants, from which they take cuttings for about 50% of the flowers they produce. The other 50% of the cuttings are bought, but from next year on, the company will stop buying cuttings and produce all of their own. But that’s not all! As Euphorbia is such a niche product, the growers work together as a tightknit community. Luiten Flowers will produce cuttings for all of the growers from next year on as well.

The cuttings are placed in soil and then transported to a rooting space. This is the most important stage of growing this flower! If the roots don’t develop in the right way, the plant won’t grow to produce the wished quality. But, when the roots develop and grow well, the plant is well manageable and will surely grow to produce the right quality. It takes about six months for a cutting to grow to a flowering stem.

 

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When we say that Euphorbia is a well manageable flower, it means that the grower can steer the growth of it, the condition being that the roots of the cutting have developed well. Water management is the most important aspect in this. More water means more growth, less water means the growth will slow down. Of course temperature and sunlight play a big role as well.

Euphorbia is sensitive to sunlight, so therefore it’s grown to produce its flowers during Autumn, which is the ideal time for the flowers to bloom.

One very charming aspect of visiting Luiten flowers is the bees in the greenhouse. You can hear them buzzing about! They come flying into the greenhouse from a local beekeeper, and are drawn to the Euphorbias pollen, which they clean off the flowers. Bees in the greenhouse also mean less pests. Luiten Flowers uses organic pest control, and the bees are a nice (albeit unintentional) extra in keeping unwanted insects out of the greenhouse.

When the Euphorbia stems are fully grown, they are cut by hand and placed onto large carts to be taken to the production line. The flowers are put in bunches, and then placed in boiling water. Euphorbia stems, when cut, produce a latex like liquid that closes off the stem, preventing it from absorbing water. By placing the stems in boiling water for about eighteen seconds, this effect is countered and the stem are able to absorb water. The stems are then placed in carts with a pre-treatment agent, where they have to stay for a minimum of four hours. The pre-treatment agent improves the vase life of the Euphorbia. Afterwards the flowers are packed and send to the flower auction.

One common misconception about Euphorbia is that the florist has to put the stems in boiling water a second time, but this is not necessary at all! The grower has taken all the required steps to ensure you receive a flower that you can work with perfectly!

Euphorbia is a flower that ‘lives’ on the vase. The stems are harvested with open flowers, and this means some flowers will wilt on the vase, but new flowers open up as well! The flowers can last up to ten days on the vase, and it’s not necessary to add any flower food to the water. Euporbia has to be place outside of the cooling unit, ideally at a temperature above 12°C.

Want to work with this gorgeous Autumn flower? You can find all the available colours in our web shop!

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Bredefleur Lilies

At Hukra, we handle and sell 525.000 stems of Lilies a year on average. Lilies are in our flower top 5, and therefore we need reliable partners who supply us with the cream of the crop. One of our top Lily suppliers is Bredefleur, who supply us with about 40% of the Lilies that we sell. Known for their outstanding quality, this grower produces a whopping 20 million stems a year.

With two locations in the Netherlands, this family company grows about 35 varieties of Lily in their greenhouses in Moerkapelle and Luttelgeest. The company is led by the brothers Peter, Levi, and Thomas. Each brother has their own responsibilities within the company, creating a broad and good base to work from.

Originally, Bredefleur’s assortment consisted of only single flowered Lilies, but they recently acquired a new greenhouse in Moerkapelle, which allows them to experiment with the growing of double flowered Lilies as well. Double varieties require different conditions for optimal growth, and are often more suitable for growing in crates than from the ground. As this new greenhouse was originally designed for pot plants and has a container system, this allows for double varieties to be grown in crates, enabling Bredefleur to expand their assortment.

Lilies are a bulbous crop, and the bulbs get delivered to Bredefleur in crates. The bulbs are placed in a cooling unit at freezing temperatures for several days. This triggers the growth of the flower in the bulb. The bulb is then allowed to thaw, before being brought to the greenhouse for planting. The planting of the bulbs happens with the use of a machine, operated by one single person. The machine plants the bulbs in neat rows, so that every bulb has enough space to develop their flower.

Within 8-10 weeks on average a full grown Lily stem can be harvested.  Bredefleur harvests their Lilies in a riper stage. This increases the vase life of the flowers. But it also makes sure that the Lilies can be enjoyed almost right away in the arrangements they are put in, as the flowers open a bit quicker.  

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Assortment

One of the top varieties that Bredefleur grows is Bach. But they also grow other well-known varieties like Brindisi, and Albufeira. For those wanting something special, we recommend Apricot Fudge! This variety stands out because of its amazing flower shape and colour. There are also varieties that Bredefleur grows exclusively: for instance Zelmira and Viva la Vida. One of the newest varieties to be introduced is Bowl of Beauty, and the first double variety that the company has in their assortment. With its white colour and stunning flowers, it’s a real eye catcher for the wedding season.

Sustainability

Bredefleur grows their Lilies with the utmost respect for the environment. Over the years they have invested in multiple projects to ensure their impact is reduced as much as possible. At both nurseries solar panels have been installed on the rooftops. What the panels generate in excess is supplied back to hundreds of Dutch households. In the nurseries, a kind of insulating cloth is used on the ground to keep the cold out of the greenhouses. The greenhouses remain in the right temperature much easier, which saves 25% in heating costs. The company is currently experimenting with heating their greenhouses with geothermal heat. All water is reused. The company only uses rain water, so no water is extracted from the soil. The rain water circulates in a closed water system and is not discharged. This way the soil is not depleted and no waste streams are created. Like many other growers, Bredefleur is switching to LED lighting in their greenhouses. This will lower their energy consumption up to 40%.

Bredefleur prefers to let nature take its course. Their Lilies are biologically protected and grow with the help of wild insects. These are spread through the greenhouse in very fine sawdust. So whenever you find any of this on your flowers, you know that insects were used to keep pests from entering the greenhouse, and not chemical pesticides! Bredefleur carries the MPS A and GLOBAL-GAP certificates.

Did you know?

It is a well-known fact that Lilies produce pollen that leaves stains on your clothing. But did you know that UV-Light makes the stains disappear? Wash your clothes and hang them out to dry outside in the sunlight and voila! Stain-free clothes!

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Wans Roses

Who hasn’t heard of Wans Roses? This family company, located in Straelen, Germany has been growing cut-roses since 1975. Since 2011 they specialize in English type garden roses, scented wedding roses, and roses with exceptional colours. Strictly seasonal, the roses are available from early March until the end of October. Wans’ assortment contains thirty two varieties, which produce around 5.6 million stems a year, and are grown in a modern greenhouse, spanning 42,500 m² .

Last year, we had the opportunity to visit this fantastic grower and learned a lot about the process of how these beauties are grown. Wans Roses grows their roses in a sustainable and CO2-Neutral way. During the cultivation period of approximately five years, the rose plants grow in special coconut substrate on culture channels, which facilitates harvesting work. The greenhouses are heated with sustainable waste heat from three modern combined heat and power plants, which are operated exclusively with renewable energy resources. As of 2022 they also use a new wood chip boiler, whenever there are higher heart requirements. This way the company reduced their C02-emissions by 3,120 tons per year.

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Waste water is reused completely through a system that uses UV radiation to clean the water, before it’s stored in large bassins, and the company’s own photovoltaic system powers the machines. The machines are only operated during the time the solar panels produce energy, so that no extra electricity is needed. There is no extra light used in the green house. This means the roses have a natural growing process and are grown with as less impact on the environment as possible, and with a better C02 footprint that roses imported from other countries!

To protect their roses from pests biological plant protection is used. This is mostly beneficial organisms, such as the predator mite and the creeping weevil, which act as natural enemies. Also, in terms of packaging, the company thinks ahead: all their roses are packed in paper sleeves that carry FSC certification. No plastic whatsoever, and the paper sleeves protect the flowers just as well!

You can find Wans Roses’ daily offer in our webshop under the VMP button!

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Groot&Groot Peonies

Groot&Groot Peonies is a grower of high quality Peony cutflowers and roots. With production locations and partners in the Netherlands, France, Italy, and South-Africa they are able to provide fresh Peonies year-round.

Their flower assortment spans 39 different varieties and their unique methods during cultivation, harvesting, and processing ensures the highest possible quality. Groot&Groot’s strenght lies within their strict selection process of their harvested flowers. This ensures that every trolley leaving their company has a uniform look and that all flowers in each bucket are the same size. This is exactly why we – at Hukra – are such fans of this company! Groot&Groot is innovative and continuously reviews their assortment. This way, they strive to offer the newest and best varieties available!

The flower
Peonies are a classic garden plant and it’s classified as a perennial. This means that it will flower more than once during its lifespan. The plants can grow up to 100 cm tall and they can last more than ten years.

When grown outside, peonies have a flowering span of about two weeks. The period in which they flower depends on the climate in which they are grown, but this is usually during spring time. A peony plant can produce between 6 to 15 flowers, depending on the variety and the circumstances under which they are grown.

The flowers are cut by hand, so that only the flowers of the best quality and in the right stage are cut at the right time. Groot&Groot does not apply large scale harvesting mechanisms, as this might damage the flower.

Multiple locations
Groot&Groot has multiple partners and production locations in other countries. All locations use the same cultivation standards and harvesting process so that the flowers are of equal quality and standards.

The peonies from Italy are the earliest in the year and are available during March and April, followed by France (flowers available in May and June), the Netherlands (flowers available in July and August), and (this year for the first time) South Africa, from which the flowers will be available from October to January.

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Assortment
Groot&Groot’s wide cutflower assortment spans 39 varieties of single, semi-double, and double flowers, fragrant and non-fragrant. From the ever classic and beloved Sarah Bernhardt, to deep red as Old Faithful and Illini Warrior, bright shades like Coral Charm, and white varieties like Ivory Victory and Class Act. This diverse assortment allows for the workload to be spread during the harvest season, as each variety has its own characteristics and flowering period. The assortment is constantly reviewed and innovated, with new and exclusive varieties being added.

Sustainability
Sustainability is becoming more and more important throughout the entire sector. Groot&Groot is continuously innovating in this aspect. They try to grow their Peonies with as less impact on the environment as possible. They use sustainable and organic pest control, and hold an MPS certificate since 2020. But by carefully monitoring the soil, the company is able to optimize the production of a peony plant, but at the same time the use of pest control and fertilizers is reduced, as the plants receive only what is necessary.

This year, the company had a total of 340 high yield solar panels installed on the roof. The panels provide a large percentage of their energy needs during the spring and summer months, the high season in which the flowers are harvested and processed. By taking these steps Groot&Groot works towards a greener future.

 

 

Did you know?
Outside of the flowering season, Peonies can be kept for a long time in a cold storage! This does not impact the quality of the flowers at all if they are kept in the right conditions. Groot&Groot has perfected this way of dry storing the flowers, allowing them to have the flowers available year-round.

Rest assured, the flowers will open when they are put in a vase and they will bloom beautifully!

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Workshop at Hukra Stockholm – April

On Monday April 17th, Hukra Stockholm organized another workshop, together with Smithers-Oasis and florist Heidi Mikkonen! Once again, our customers could work with products from Oasis’s FirbreFloral line. This is one of Oasis’s newest products and made from natural ingredients. The product is derived from natural volcanic basalt rock and has excellent water holding capacity.

And of course, we had lovely seasonal and novelty flowers from our sponsors for our customers to work with! For this edition, the flowers were sponsored by Groot&Groot, Deliflor Chrysanten, Wans Roses, Monarch Flowers, Gia Flowers, and van der Valk Groenesier.

For an impression of the event, click on the photos in the gallery below!

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Narcissus Magic: WF Leenen

W.F. Leenen is a family company which was established in 1954, and is located in Voorhout, the Netherlands. Brothers Jaco and Dirk are the third generation of growers to lead the company. They specialize in the growing, forcing, breeding, and export of Narcissus bulbs and cut flowers. Their assortment spans about twenty varieties, of which part is of their own invention. They produce about four million stems a year and their bulbs are exported all over the world!

Growing Process
Their bulbs are grown on seashells from the North Sea, so that they are completely free of soil when exported. It also ensures less production loss as the bulbs are less likely to be infected by diseases. The shells can be used up to three times, and as time progresses they fall apart and become of an almost sand like structure. W.F. Leenen has been growing their Daffodils this way for over twenty five years.
After the bulbs are forced, they are placed in cold storage for a period of four weeks. This will cause the flower bud, which already exists within the bulb, to start developing. After that the pallet boxes in which the bulbs are grown are placed in the greenhouse, where they will remain for another four weeks until harvest. During this time, the leaves and flower buds will fully develop.

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Varieties
W.F. Leenen grows single, double, and spray (single and double) Narcissus. More common varieties are Dutch Master, Avalanche, and Paperwhite, but they also have a gorgeous, exclusive range of other varieties, like Amadeus Mozart, Abba, and Delta, and their own Paradise series of double varieties. The big varieties are harvested while the flower is still closed. With the spray varieties it is better to wait a little while, until they have some open flowers. If they have about four to five flowers open, the rest of the buds will also develop and bloom!

Some of the varieties change colour after they open. Snow Paradise, for instance, will be white with yellow on its first day, but with a day or two, it will become completely white.

Innovation
WF Leenen’s slogan is ‘Growing for generations’, which in their case is absolutely true. Did you know that developing a new Narcissus variety can take up to 30 years, from seedling until it’s market introduction? Their Paradise series, for instance, were first developed in the 1980s, by Jaco’s and Dirk’s grandfather.

So how does a new Narcissus variety come into existence? Two selected varieties are cross-bred in the old fashioned way. Within a few months, the flower will develop seed, which is sowed before the longest day of the year. It takes eight years, for the seed to develop into a full sized bulb. From there on out, the flowers that bloom from it will be observed and reviewed for a period of five years.

If the flower is deemed to be unique and good enough, the bulb is propagated naturally. This is a long and slow process! After fourteen years, about 250 bulbs have been developed, which then are propagated for another three to five years through tissue culture and/or separation.
After this long period of time, the variety is introduced to the market and available for us to enjoy!

W.F Leenen’s daily offer can be found in our web shop under the VMP/Direkt button!