Big In Blooming Potted

For three generations, Holtkamp Greenhouses has built an international reputation on breeding and producing the world’s favorite houseplant, African violets. Breeding efforts began in 1935 with Hermann Holtkamp, Sr., in Germany and was carried on by his sons Reinhold Holtkamp, Sr., and grandson, Reinhold Holtkamp, Jr. Reinhold Sr. founded Holtkamp Greenhouses in Nashville, Tenn., in 1977 to build business and a research and development facility in the United States.

Reinhold Sr. took the revolutionary varieties to the next level by distinguishing them with a brand: Optimara. The name is derived from two words: optimum (meaning the best) and Usambara (the mountains in East Africa where the first African violet was discovered).
The Holtkamp family’s innovations included nondropping flowers with continuous bloom and the single-crowned propagation style. Reinhold Jr. has been just as focused on making retailers and consumers successful with the plants by developing self-watering wells and display units, as well as lines of plant food. Online, consumers can consult the fictional Dr. Optimara for care information and to determine what is going on with their plants months later.

This fall, an exciting new brand and website is rolling out called myViolet.com.  Plant tags will direct consumers to the site to type in a unique access code for more information on their specific plants, and even personalize the experience by naming their plants. Growers who purchase plugs and cuttings of these varieties will be able to take this program to their retailers. Plans are in the works to create similar programs for more than 20 different crops – myBegonia.com, myPoinsettia.com, etc.

Begonias & Beyond

At the same time Holtkamp was growing its business in African violets, it was rooting varieties for other breeders. One specialty is Elatior begonias. “We have worked with the Man family in Germany for more than 40 years, focused on begonias as a rooting station,” Reinhold Jr. says. “But we quickly realized everything would be propagated offshore.”

These begonias were part of Florema – a leading breeder, producer and supplier of young plants based in Amstelveen, The Netherlands. In 2001, Optimara and Florema formed a joint venture called Floremara to supply unrooted cuttings for Elatior begonias, New Guinea impatiens and poinsettias to North American growers.

One year ago, Florema became part of an even larger organization, the Beekenkamp Group, also in The Netherlands. Based in Maasdijk, the Beekenkamp group consists of:
• Beekenkamp Plants BV – producer of starting material for potted and bedding plants, as well as vegetables.
• Deliflor Chrysanthemums BV – chrysanthemum breeder and cuttings propagator.
• Beekenkamp Packaging BV – develops and procures synthetic crates, cultivation boxes and trays.

Cuttings are produced at farms in Holland, France, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Brazil.

“Beekenkamp did take over Florema Young Plants last year. It was merged with the Beekenkamp Ornamental Plants division,” explains Beekenkamp’s Sales Manager Ruud Veenenbos. “Inside the Florema company, the focus was on bedding and pots produced from cuttings. Selling was done worldwide. Beekenkamp was focused on bedding and pot production from seeds, but not exclusively. Sales were mainly inside Holland. Together, this made a perfect match for further expansion of the companies.”

In the joint venture with Holtkamp, Floremara is the broker or sales arm working directly with U.S. and Canadian growers. The company has been able to compete and work with established broker networks.

“We do have a few sales through brokers with business we initiate,” Reinhold Jr. says. “Sometimes it’s the choice of the grower customer to have the billing go through a broker. We’ve been extremely competitive on price and have all the critical factors in place – quality, price and customer service. With customer support in Nashville, we provide good information and a reliable service.”

Breeding Innovation

One hot new introduction is the Waterfalls Begonia boliviensis varieties positioned to compete with the Bonfires from Anthony Tesselaar. “They are not a me-too, but a genetic improvement with better branching and stronger color,” he says.

A very well-received sun-tolerant line that also has been on the market through Oglevee/Paul Ecke Ranch are the Solenia begonias. In poinsettias, Floremara was the first to breed cold-tolerant varieties as part of an Eco Star program focused on energy conservation.

Reinhold Jr. says the most exciting part of the partnership is Beekenkamp’s commitment to research and development (R&D), an area that has always been important to Holtkamp’s. “They have incredible R&D – 200,000 square feet and a lot of white coats working on new genetics that are delivering an exciting program for the U.S. grower,” he says.

Leave a Reply

Latest Stories
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

August 25, 2016

7 Ways Albert Grimm Strives To Be An Effective Leader

Grimm, Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, tries to live by the "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” from author Stephen R. Covey.

Read More
Tidal Creek Growers

August 25, 2016

Maryland-Based SunMed Growers Nabs Cannabis License

The company was one of 15 licensees selected by the commission out of a pool of 145 grower applicants to receive one of the license pre-approvals.

Read More
GrowSpan Light Deprivation Greenhouse

August 25, 2016

New Light Deprivation Greenhouses Help With Light Manag…

The GrowSpan light deprivation greenhouse from Growers Supply is outfitted with a blackout system that provides growers with control over the light cycle.

Read More
Albert Grimm GOY feature

August 25, 2016

Up Close And Personal With Head Grower Of The Year Albe…

According to Grimm, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, the key to being a successful grower is educating and inspiring yourself, your staff, your customers, and the next generation of growers.

Read More
To offer consumers an attractive crop, Local Appetite uses high tunnels to grow cherry tomatoes

August 24, 2016

New Food Safety Compliance Resource Available For Green…

The FSMA Wizard from Registrar Corp makes it easy for food producers, including greenhouse vegetable growers, to determine their possible requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Read More
Cannabis Structure

August 23, 2016

5 Factors To Consider In Your Cannabis Structure

Along with the size and specs of your greenhouse, it's also important to focus on ventilation, light deprivation, benching, irrigation, and odor control.

Read More
Penn State Plant Bud

August 23, 2016

AmericanHort Is Helping Plant Importers Adjust To New R…

A report from Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort says the government is implementing a streamlined system for imports, in which all required data will be submitted electronically through a single window.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Kick Spring Sales Up A Notch With 18 New Plant Introduc…

It’s time to look forward to the spring season and what plants will get your business off to the right start. These 18 new cultivars have all the traits of good breeding — uniform habits, bold colors, showy blooms, good vigor, and excellent branching.

Read More
Bees And Pesticides

August 23, 2016

Studies Offer Conflicting Views On Neonic Effect On Bee…

How much exposure to neonicotinoids do bees need before their health becomes affected? That’s the question two research teams look to answer.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Gardens Alive! Parent Company Buys Zelenka Farms

  Zelenka Farms, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, says LM Farms, which owns Gardens Alive!, has purchased the company and all of its assets. BFN Operations LLC and its affiliated entities, d/b/a Zelenka Farms, operated one of the largest wholesale nurseries in the U.S. Its products include shrubs, trees, perennials, roses, and groundcovers. The owners of Gardens Alive! have successfully purchased several other companies from bankruptcy and are experienced nursery managers. Niles Kinerk, Chairman of LM Farms, stated that “the opportunity to purchase Zelenka Farms assets and to continue the turnaround that is well underway is exactly the kind of opportunity that we look for. We understand the efforts of the management team led by Eric Ek and others have been successful, and we will support the management team in the coming months and years.” Zelenka Farms operates its six facilities across the key growing regions in the […]

Read More
Chrysanthemum Aphid

August 22, 2016

How To ID And Manage Black Aphids In Chrysanthemums

Growers in Michigan have recently been reporting a higher presence of this pest. Here are some tips on how to control it.

Read More
LuxFlora - feature

August 22, 2016

Check Out Luxflora’s International Adventures In Europe

A new, women-led professional organization provides its members the opportunity to gain insight, develop ideas, and build connections on its annual international trip.

Read More
Cannabis Crop Protection

August 22, 2016

Cannabis Group Stays Focused On Consistent Standards Fo…

The Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS), is an independent, third-party, not-for-profit organization, is in the process of developing cannabis-specific standards for everything from cultivation and extraction to packaging and retail.

Read More

August 22, 2016

Syngenta

Growers have new broad-spectrum fungicide options with new Segovis and Mural, as well as a new systemic insecticide with Mainspring GNL.

Read More

August 22, 2016

PL Light Systems

With the introduction of PL Light System’s new HortiLED light systems, growers no longer have to choose between quality and energy savings. Three different systems, designed for both standard and multilayer application, deliver exceptional uniformity and efficiency.

Read More

August 22, 2016

Emerald Coast Growers

Emerald Coast Growers has answers to the top trends in gardening with Chick Charms Sempervivums, two beautiful and sterile Miscanthus varieties, and the pollinator-friendly Bee You Monarda series.

Read More

August 22, 2016

PanAmerican Seed

The gorgeous large flowers of Megawatt begonias offer high-voltage color in the landscape, pots or baskets. Easily grown from seed, Megawatts come in four colors and are accompanied by eye-catching free retail kits including posters and bench cards.

Read More

August 22, 2016

PanAmerican Seed

PanAmerican Seed introduces exciting new multi-species combos from seed to its Plug & Play combo program. Trialed and proven by growers, varieties are carefully selected to grow and bloom together and make consumers come back wanting more.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]