Kalantzis Plants started as a small local nursery close to Athens almost 30 years ago. When the second generation of this family-run business took control earlier this decade, they separated the activities into three sectors: finished products, young plants and breeding.
Today, they have their own breeding activities and facilities to test and improve growing protocols, supplying to other growers all over Europe and Africa with young plants, and they sell finished products mostly in the countries around Greece.
First and second generation of Kalantzis Plants
We spoke to Anastasios Kalantzis about trends in the industry, developments in the market, and their presence at the FlowerTrials. This year, they'll be coming to the Netherlands to exhibit at the event for the first time, partnering with Ramm Botanicals, a breeder that incorporates a large, purpose built tissue culture laboratory, young plants nursery and R&D facility in Kangy Angy, close to Sydney in Australia.
Aerial view Ramm Botanicals
First of all, when asked about his vision on the ornamental market in general, Anastasios points out that technology and IT solutions are among the many changes that have helped growers save more resources and produce better quality. "Sometimes I’m afraid that we focus more and more on the numbers in this industry and forget the passion and the joy the flowers bring", he points out, however.
Kalantzis Plants main nursery from a distance
When sustainability comes up, Anastasios lights up. "It may sound 'classic' but it’s really amazing that every day we read about a new investment which minimizes the need of energy somewhere in the world. We are really close in producing without any use of old type of fuels and chemicals, bringing our environmental footprint to zero. Then we will be proud of working in a really 'green' industry!"
Anastasios Kalantzis loading Anigozanthos finished products
Traditional down, exotic up
Regarding market developments, Anastasios says that what can be considered as a traditional crop is probably under pressure the last few years. "Geranium, Primula, Azalea, even Phalaenopsis don’t bring the good old profits to growers like before. On the other hand we see the rising of more 'exotic' species like Mandevilla, Hibiscus and - why not - Anigozanthos, which is our main product. I believe that the market has always a very positive feeling and curiosity for the new, while the 'traditional' is frequently left behind."
Anigozanthos in the field
Kalantzis Plants certainly has plenty of experience responding to market developments like these. "We come from a country which experienced a very severe financial crisis and is now recovering. During these difficult years we invested in solutions that reduce production costs, increase quality and create a knowledge base. We formed a young and highly skilled team and started an R&D department to take advantage of the great weather conditions and highly educated agronomists we enjoy in Greece. We use beneficials in our production, installed solar panels to produce the biggest part of the electricity we consume, and among other improvement, we are also working together with local Institutions in finding a proper substrate mixture to replace the use of peat moss."
Bush Pearl in production shot during evening in Greece
It's an exciting year for Kalantzis Plants - this year will see their first participation in the Flower Trials, and Anastasios is confident his company can make an impression. "We have something new to show and we believe that our company’s future is in the breeding sector. Together with our partner from Australia, Ramm Botanicals, we present a series of genetics that need less care, are easy to grow and you can enjoy for many months per year in your garden."
Ryan Weber of Ramm Botanicals in production
He adds: "Our partners in Ramm Botanicals did a great job breeding disease tolerant varieties of Anigozanthos with really impressive colors. All of them have been tested by us in European weather conditions the last years and what fits better to our market was selected and will be presented at Royal Van Zanten’s outdoor area."
Left: Bush Crystal in pot; right: new variety Kings Park Royale
Alongside Anigozanthos - which Anastasios says has an undeserved reputation of being hard to grow in Northern Europe - they will bring Lomandra and Dianella varieties that have taken California and Australia by storm because of their low needs of maintenance. Rounding out the show offer will be a new gardenia variety, a unique Senecio with trident-shaped leaves and two colors of a hybrid called Disphyllum.