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Cris Oostveen, De Zonnebloem Jonge Planten:

"Propagation of ferns is a discipline unto itself"

Business is booming at De Zonnebloem Jonge Planten. The company’s two divisions – propagation of tub plants and hibiscus on the one hand, propagation of ferns in vitro and from spores on the other – literally interweave. "That is due to the somewhat temporary nature of the showroom," Cris laughs, "and we have little space to begin with. But it’s all going well and as you can see we’re working on all sorts of things." During the Sortimentsdagen (assortment days), two weeks ago at the company in De Kwakel, visitors got a look at the range and at the seemingly cluttered, but also industrious and innovative back of house.

The brothers Bart and Cris Oostveen

"Ferns are like the reptiles or dinosaurs among plants", says Cris Oostveen, who runs the company with his brother Bart and Rob Braam, "and propagating them is a discipline unto itself. In nature a fern multiplies itself in various ways, of which we mimic two, so to speak. On the one hand you have propagation from tissue culture, which happens in nature through aerial roots. The plant forms offshoots that leave a piece of tissue when they get in contact with the ground, which then carries on independently. On the other hand we propagate from spores. Harvesting the spores and then sowing them and pricking them out is no easy task, and the different steps in the process that we have specialized in over the years, are also very precise."

A look in the greenhouse. On the tables are young ferns

Space shortage
The market for ferns is limited. De Zonnebloem/Henk Braam basically have only a few competitors. "We’re experiencing a space shortage. It’s certainly one of the reasons why we’ve had two climatic cells installed by Green-Simplicity. Here we investigate the best climate and the ideal light recipe to propagate ferns and tub plants. We especially believe in multilayer cultivation, have extensively sought information about greenhouses without daylight and LEDs lately and are now looking at which light recipe is ideal."

A look in one of the two climate cells. A study is being made of how young plants grow under different light recipes - combinations of red, blue and far-red.

Everything in-house
Besides the ferns, tub plants and hibiscus also have a significant share in the company. These are also bred, propagated and even grown under a couple of covers. The company has several own breeds in both hibiscus and tub plants and regularly introduces novelties. The latest example is a new Mandevilla, the Bloom Bells series, available in the colors yellow, red and pink. One of the particulars is that the mother plants of the Mandevilla range are all here in the Netherlands and not, as often with competing colleagues, in so-called low-wage countries. "We increasingly hear from our customers that they actually appreciate this because then they can be sure of what it contains in terms of plant protection etc. They can be better monitored and demonstrated than when you have a farm in Africa or South America. This is becoming increasingly important for biological control at the client, and the demands that their customers have."

A look at (part of) the showroom arrangement for the Sortimentsdagen

De Zonnebloem Jonge Planten has a colorful history. The company began in 1968 as a small nursery and flower shop. In the 1980s parents Wijnand and Julia expanded into a company specialized in cutting propagation of tub plants. Later bedding plants were added and a move followed (from Nieuwe Niedorp to De Kwakel) and brothers Bart and Cris joined. In 2004, when business wasn't great, they stopped with the bedding plants, but in 2009 the collaboration with Rob Braam was initiated by way of Henk Braam BV in the field of ferns. Through the years Zonnebloem increasingly found interested mail order companies, expanded its own operations with a bit of own production and now offers several own breeds next to being licensed for crops from other breeders.

For more information:
De Zonnebloem Jonge Planten bv
Kalslagerweg 20
1424 PM De Kwakel
T: +31 (0) 297 - 348 100
F: +31 (0) 297 - 348 200

Henk Braam BV
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