October 22, 2008
Our first stop was Patio Plant Nurseries, one of three growers in the Plantimex distribution alliance. Plantimex serves a mix of retail markets ranging from florists to nurseries, interiorscapers and chain stores. The owners of Patio Plant Nurseries are Jan and Elvira Bronger. While Jan is from Holland, Elvira is from Italy.
Pot mums are their bread and butter crop. The focus is on a limited assortment of varieties with strong colors. Cuttings are shipped in from Uganda. While quarantines are an issue with chrysanthemum cuttings coming into the United States, most other countries do not have restrictions. The greenhouses were pretty low tech even though they did have an automated pot filling machine. The Brongers schedule crops every two weeks, 10,000 pots at a time. They sell all that they grow.
Fides has been selling the local South African market with 120 million stems of fresh cut chrysanthemums in addition to supplying cuttings to growers. The cut flower market is stronger in South Africa than potted plants. While cut flowers represent $100 million in annual sales, potted plants are just 20 percent of that. In potted plants, Plantimex claims to have 55-60 percent of the market.