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Manfred Robert, Liriope Factory:
"20 percent year on year growth for liriope"The liriope is a well-known houseplant, but the demand for these low growing grasses really got a boost since the introduction of landscaping varieties. About six years ago in the USA and about three years ago in Europe, the demand started to increase. "In both continents, we experience an annual increase in demand of about 20 percent", says Manfred Robert, Sales Manager at US-based Liriope Factory.
Manfred Robert at the IPM Essen.
The liriope used to be a plant that could be used indoors only, explains Robert. Over the years, new and improved varieties entered the market that can be used outdoors too. "Now, the liriope is a cold hardy, drought-tolerant plant that produces flowers and is a good weed control." And this resulted in an increase in demand, particularly in Europe.
According to Robert, US demand was quite low during the time of the financial crisis, but started to increase afterwards. "About six years ago, when the USA was climbing out of the crisis, we saw our sales increase too." In Europe, however, the demand started to increase more recently; about three years ago. According to Robert, this has more to do with the fact that people are getting familiar with the versatile use of the plant. "The plant can be used in a different way; it isn't an indoor plant only anymore. Currently, it is a popular landscaping plant and often used in vertical walls." In both continents, Robert still sees an annual increase of 20 percent and he expects it to increase at this pace in the coming years.
According to Robert, the fact that the liriope is a low-maintenance plant makes it a popular plant. And not only among end users, but among growers too. "It is quite an economical plant as it doesn't need special soil, pruning or other requirements. After receiving the cuttings, the grower needs to plant them in small pots, which enables them to develop their roots and foliage. Afterwards, they need to be transplanted to larger pots and it will take about 10 months to finish them."
The main markets for Liriope Factory are the USA and Europe. In the USA, where they sell the cuttings year-round, the best selling variety is the Variegated. "It is a more cold-tolerant variety and has nice flowers and foliage." In Europe, where they sell the bare-rooted cuttings in April, May and June, the Monroe White is the most popular variety. "This variety has green and white flowers."
Litriope Factory produces its cuttings in Central Louisiana USA on 125 acres open field. On this area they have about two million mother plants and a total production of 50 million cuttings a year. The demand is increasing, but they are not planning to increase the production area soon. "At the moment we are still ok in size", concludes Robert.
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