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Andreas Pellens, Pellens Hortensien

High times for German hydrangea grower

"My father would have advised me to expand the greenhouse, but I'd rather invest in the existing square meters to enhance the quality of the product", says Andreas Pellens of Pellens Hortensien. Recently, this German hydrangea young plant and finished plant grower rearranged the internal greenhouse logistics and invested in techniques to enhance the quality of his crop.

In 1996, Pellens joined the company, which his grandfather established in 1959. "He started with growing vegetables and quickly changed to garden plants. In 1975, my father added hydrangea plants and decided to focus solely on this crop in 2001." Now, Pellens Hortensien produces - in a 20,000 m2 greenhouse - around 1.4 million hydrangeas per year, 80 percent of which consist of half finished hydrangeas. The majority of the finished hydrangeas are sold on the local market, and the half finished hydrangeas are shipped out to countries all over the world.

New packhouse and new cold store

New pack house and cold store
In 2016, Andreas Pellens took over the company management, and he decided to make some drastic changes. "In the past, growers were used to building instantly. I think it is better to improve the greenhouse year by year." In May 2017, they built a 1,100 m2 cold store and a pack house of the same size. According to Pellens, the structural conditions of the former facility were not optimal for the quantities transferred. "We already had three of our own cooling houses, but for two of them, the location was unfavorable, logistically speaking. On top of that, these cooling technologies were outdated," says Andreas Pellens. Click here for the entire article on this topic, that was published earlier on FloralDaily.

New path
Currently he is working hard on enhancing the crop and the internal logistics of the greenhouse. Recently, a main path was created that leads straight across the complete company grounds. "It will lead over 130 meters across the greenhouses to connect the old and the new loading hall."

The new main path

New irrigation system
Next to this path, they also invested in a new irrigation system. Half of the greenhouse - about 3,300 m2 cultivated area - was leveled off and equipped with new watering mats. "Before, some plants did not receive enough water, so one of our workers had to water the plants that were too dry. Now, this is not necessary anymore." Lastly, about 300 meters of footpaths in between the crops have been renewed as well.

On the left: 3,300 m2 are being leveled off. On the right: Improving the irrigation system with new mats.

Never say never
However, Pellens is not casting aside the idea of building a greenhouse. "Next year, we are planning to demolish our oldest greenhouses, build a new 1,400 m2 greenhouse with all the necessary techniques, and invest in irrigation mats for the other the year after. And if a new greenhouse does not fit our planning for next year, we will first do the irrigation mats in the rest of the greenhouse. This way, we do something to improve the greenhouse and quality of the crop year by year", he says.

Investing in workers
In addition to investing in the greenhouse and the crop, Pellens also attaches a lot of importance to the well-being of his employees. "Nowadays it is difficult to get and maintain good workers, so we try to offer them the best possible working conditions", he says. Next year, he is adding a 200 m2 area for the workers, with restrooms, canteen and so on. Also on the work floor, the job of potting the plants has become more pleasant due to the height-adjustable table, and will become even more pleasant as each of the five tables will get a heater. "This heater will increase the local temperature by 5 to 10 degrees Celsius without affecting the plant."

The height-adjustable table

During our visit at Pellens Hortensien, Pellens showed us around in the greenhouse. Below some more photos:

In this area, the young plants are stored. In total, around 1 million plants are stored in just 20 percent of the greenhouse space. The plants will stay in this area until their leaves start to drop. Then they are shipped out to growers all over the world from January till February.

The mother plants are now back outside. In July, they will start the cutting and rooting process again.

In the greenhouse

Packing/loading area

For more information:
Pellens Hortensien
Andreas Pellens
Email: [email protected]