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Calluna: From graveyard to backyard

"The calluna season has just ended and it has been a good one", says Gerd Canders of Europlant Canders. He and his son Tom, annually grow around 30 million young- and 4 million finished Beauty Ladies callunas in Straelen, Germany. Over the last few years they have seen the market changing and the demand growing.

Gerd Canders of Europlant Canders.

From supply to demand based market
The calluna is a real German product that is being sold all over Europe. Over the last few years, however, several German companies shut their doors as they could not find a successor. This in turn, turned the Calluna market into one that is demand based rather than supply based. "We have had a very good season and it was not always that easy to meet the demand", says Canders. But not only for Europlant Canders as a young plant and finished plant grower, the demand increased, the overall calluna market seems to have grown. "In 2004, we thought the growth stagnated, but when comparing 2017 with 2004, we have seen a growth of 40 percent, from a production of 90 million plants to 130 million plants a year."

From cemetery to lifestyle plant
And the increase in the demand is probably the result of what is being put on the market over the last few years. "The calluna used to be a 'cemetery plant', but due to the addition of new colors, it is becoming a more 'lifestyle plant'", explains Canders. Europlant Canders cooperates with Dutch calluna breeder Eden's Creations and decided to expand into bud bloomers in 2000 and created the Beauty Line series. "So, next to improving the habits of the plant it is very important to come up with new colors."

Five of the new varieties in the Beauty Ladies series. Canders has high expectations for these varieties.

Traditional growers
However, the calluna growers are quite traditional, so in order to let them add new varieties to their assortment, breeders and young plant producers like Canders need to convince them first. "In order to create a demand, we first add and trial new varieties next to their consisting assortment." For this reason, it takes a while before a new variety to become known among the growers and on the market. "The Skyline for example, an innovative product that does not have any flowers but intensely colored foliage, it took about three years till this product became known in the market."

During our visit at Canders, we received a tour at the growing fields and in their greenhouse in Straelen where they propagate and grow the young plants. Below some photos to get an impression of the company.

The season of Callunas runs from the beginning of August till late October. The last finished callunas were shipped out and the trials for next year are still on the field.

Next to single colored plants, also multi colored callunas are becoming increasingly popular, like this new tri-colored Skyline, which requires six cuttings. "With six cuttings you have a nice mix and the guarantee of six colors", explains Canders.

.... and even a five-colored calluna called High Five. This plant requires five cuttings.

Also a part of the field is covered with Plant material that has been potted in spring.

The cuttings that just have been transplanted. Transplanting the cuttings is a manual job in the coming weeks, till Christmas, they plan to have transplanted 14 million plants.

The greenhouse has a size of 2ha and is divided in 12 departments. Over the next few months, the greenhouse will fill up gradually.

Growing a calluna from cutting to plant with a pot size of 13 cm takes about 1.5 years.

For more information
Europlant Canders
Gerd Canders
Email: [email protected]