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
Greenbelt Microgreens

June 23, 2017

Greenbelt Microgreens is a Finalist for the 2017 Operat…

Winner of the Excellence in Innovation Award, Greenbelt Microgreens is constantly staying on top of the latest trends in technology,

Read More
Ushio Sakazaki feature

June 22, 2017

Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellenc…

From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.

Read More
Koppert Ulti-Mite Swirski sachet

June 21, 2017

New Tool from Koppert Provides More Effective Thrips Ma…

A newly patented sachet for the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii is resistant to both low and high levels of humidity, helping growers combat thrips infestations.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

June 20, 2017

Dümmen Orange Enters Calla Market With Acquisition of G…

Golden State will continue to supply the market through September 2018, at which time Dümmen Orange will assume supply and delivery of much of Golden State’s product line.

Read More

June 20, 2017

Sign Up For The Luxflora Flower Run At Cultivate’17

The5k walk/run race, sponsored by Luxflora, is an opportunity for industry members to network, build relationships, have some healthy fun, and start off Cultivate’17 with a flourish.

Read More

June 19, 2017

IGC Show Features Talks on How to Cash in on the Buy Lo…

This year’s event, which takes place Aug. 15-17 in Chicago, also includes a free workshop on what you might do when starting your business over from scratch.

Read More
SNA Logo

June 19, 2017

SNA, MANTS Plan to Co-Locate Their Events in 2018

There is crossover appeal for participants of both events, according to show organizers, and this cooperation will bring value and potential new business opportunities for both audiences.

Read More
Heat Safety App

June 18, 2017

Protect Your Employees from Heat-Related Illnesses with…

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have released an updated app for smart phones that can help workers stay safe when working outdoors in hot weather.

Read More
Visser Autostix

June 17, 2017

Visser, Ball Partner on New Sticking Technology for Cut…

The new AutoStix system is designed to provide better consistency and uniformity with shipped cuttings, easier and more reliable counting, automatic transplanting, and optional buffering in the peak season.

Read More
sbi-software-triumph

June 16, 2017

Five Guidelines to Investing in Software for Your Green…

Any software improvement you make should make sense for your team and be worth the investment.

Read More
EOE-featureimage2017

June 15, 2017

Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 Evening Of Excellence Will Rec…

Registration is now open for the 2017 Greenhouse Grower Evening Of Excellence, which takes place Monday, July 17, during Cultivate’17.

Read More
Plantpeddler Variety Day

June 14, 2017

Plantpeddler Hosting Variety Day on Aug. 4 in Cresco, I…

The free event will allow attendees to tour Plantpeddler’s trial gardens, which include more than 1,200 varieties of vegetative annuals displayed in large containers, baskets, window boxes, and beds.

Read More
Iron and Manganese toxicity in geranium

June 13, 2017

Are Your Geraniums Showing Signs of Iron or Manganese T…

Zonal geraniums with low pH can exhibit iron and manganese toxicity symptoms, including marginal chlorosis, leaf speckling, and upward-cupping of the leaves, according to Michigan State University experts.

Read More
weed sanitation

June 13, 2017

New Research Explores Potential of Using Steam or Hot W…

USDA-Agricultural Research Service horticulturist Dr. James Altland is exploring an alternative method for controlling weeds in greenhouse propagation systems by using steam or hot water to kill weed seeds.

Read More
Paul Fisher Fertilizer feature

June 12, 2017

How to Improve Customer Success by Adding Residual Fert…

Even if it costs a few cents more per pot or extra labor, your customers will thank you with repeat sales.

Read More
Jonathan Babikow, Emerald Coast Growers

June 9, 2017

New Head Grower at Emerald Coast Growers is Excited abo…

Jonathan Babikow, Emerald Coast Growers’ new general manager/head grower for its Lancaster, PA, location, talks about his favorite perennials, the advantages of growing in Pennsylvania, and his future hopes for his career.

Read More
Petunia 'Amore Mio' (Danziger)

June 8, 2017

AmericanHort Update on Genetically Engineered Petunias

AmericanHort is actively assisting affected plant breeders, distributors, growers, and retailers as the genetically modified petunia regulatory response continues. Since the last update, there have been several changes to the list of petunias confirmed or suspected of being genetically engineered and therefore unauthorized to be imported or sold. Also, the list of recognized laboratories for petunia variety confirmation testing has expanded. Most importantly, petunia varieties on the USDA-APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) list require an APHIS Form 2000 for importation. APHIS also began requiring that any Petunia spp. Shipments, not including regulated GE varieties, must be accompanied by a list of variety names. This resulted in some inspection delays at the USDA-APHIS plant inspection station in Atlanta over the past two weeks. In response, AmericanHort has negotiated a more flexible approach with APHIS, and new guidance has just been posted for importing Petunia plants, cuttings, or seed. The new guidance allows […]

Read More
Bailey Expo

June 8, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Expo to Take Place in Late July in Min…

This year’s expo will focus on bridging the gap with Millennials and non-gardeners through creative marketing, engaging in-store displays, and heightened customer service.

Read More