30 years ago, Vitro Plus started producing tissue culture of tropical ferns. Quickly after, the wish arose to add hardy ferns to their assortment. After years of research, they've put hardy ferns on the market about seven years ago. The total assortment of tropical and hardy ferns of VitroPlus is currently about 150 commercial varieties of which 40% are hardy. However, when looking at the items sold, the percentages are different, but Vitro Plus expects it to change in the coming years. "We see good potential for growth for the hardy ferns as it is a relatively new market to us, but also because hardy plants are becoming increasingly popular. In the coming years, we therefore aim to focus more on the hardy ferns." This is explained by Ellen Kraaijenbrink and Vincent van Vuuren of Vitro Plus during our visit at the greenhouse in Zierikzee, the Netherlands.
From left to right Ellen Kraaijenbrink, Dilge Ozkan, and Vincent van Vuuren.
Hardy ferns - from spores instead of tissue culture
Virto Plus is specialized in the production of tissue culture of ferns. Their lab is based in Burgh-Haamstede, a state-of-the art facility, where millions of ferns from tissue culture are being produced annually. They do it for 30 years now and over the last years, they also propagate ferns from spores. "When the desire arose to propagate hardy ferns from tissue culture. However, this wasn't such a success so we therefore started to propagate them from spores," says van Vuuren.
Hardy fern plugs in trays.
It quickly seem to be a better option, but it still took about a decade to achieve the desired production quality and reliability. "For the tropical tissue culture ferns, we developed a very reliable production method which enables us to supply ready to use plugs in fixed supply unit "trays". For the hardy ferns, we always aimed to use a similar method."
How it works
Leaving behind the technical story, the spores are being harvested from the mother plants and are being sowed in the lab in a sterile environment. "The production process is arranged in a way that the complete cultivation process can take place in the same sealed packaging on the same substrate and therefore also use this same packaging for transport." Partly because of this, Vitro Plus is allowed to export their products internationally. "In this way, we can supply sterile plants all over the world," Kraaijenbrink says. "On top of that, with the trays, the plugs can be transplanted manually or with a machine. The same goes for our tropical plants," she adds.
The mother plants are in the greenhouse in Zierikzee, where they harvest the spores.
The spores underneath the fern leaf.
Increase in assortment hardy ferns
The total assortment of tropical and hardy plants of Vitro Plus consists of 150 commercial products of which 40% are hardy ferns. They see a huge potential for the hardy ferns and therefore aim to put this segment more in the spotlight among their clients as well as the final consumer.
Click here for the enlarged image.
“When we think of ferns, we usually think of houseplants. However, ferns can also be found outdoors, in gardens, forests and parks. Our production method enables us to introduce new varieties relatively fast to offer our clients a wide assortment," says van Vuuren