How to Stand Out in the Orchid Market

Greenhouse full of orchids
As Phalaenopsis orchids become more of a mass commodity item, growers’ profit margins are shrinking.

The $288 million orchid industry remains strong with ample room for growth as more stores expand their programs and new retailers carry the popular Phalaenopsis orchid. But Phalaenopsis’ impending plunge over the mass-commodity cliff means shrinking profit margins for growers, and the path to continued profitability in this arena may not be as obvious as producing them cheaper.

“Growers have moved more toward peak supply, which has improved prices, but year-over-year growth at store levels on regular, commodity orchid items (like the 5-inch) is getting harder to achieve,” says Ben Van Wingerden, owner of Color Orchids in Stevensburg, VA.

The predictability of Phalaenopsis orchid production lends itself well to automation, which has led to the reduction in cost to produce orchids and thus, the ability to reduce prices and make these once price-prohibitive plants more affordable for all consumers.

The shift from using loose-filled open trays for propagation to plugs has helped because it cuts weeks off production time. However, Van Wingerden says he thinks growers will use the extra time to grow the plants longer and shoot for more double spikes rather than cutting costs.

But just because growers can produce orchids inexpensively en masse, doesn’t mean they should always do it, according to Van Wingerden.

“Retailers don’t grow year-over-year by lowering their retails dramatically on orchids. Orchids are a high-end product, and that needs to resonate with every orchid grower,” he says. “Growers need to be innovative instead of focusing on low-cost production at high quantities.”

Some of that innovation has already hit the market, reflected in the new colors and shapes of Phalaenopsis available, but customers want more. In a recent FloraDaily article, Aline Andreas, Marketing Manager at Hassinger Orchideen in the Netherlands, was quoted as saying that people have learned the general growing features of Phalaenopsis orchids, and now they want to see new and special varieties.

Exotics Have Potential, But Reliability Is An Issue

This is opening the way for orchid growers to expand to other orchid items and exotics, like Dendrobium and Cybidium, but while the interest is there, the production and financial constraints are prohibitive.

“Phalaenopsis have long production turns, but a predictable outcome with a state-of-the-art environment and talented growers,” says Max Sherer, Director of Sales and Marketing for Indoor Products at Green Circle Growers in Oberlin, OH. “You can trust that plants finished on the other side will turn out great. Until other varieties can do the same, it will be hard for growers to take the risk to produce them.”

For Matsui Nursery in California’s Salinas Valley and New Jersey, offering a large variety of top-quality orchids is a value proposition, a way to differentiate.

“We grow some intergenerics and exotics like Oncidiums that can’t be as tightly controlled as the Phalaenopsis,” says Teresa Matsui, President of Matsui Nursery “They have to be hand-grown, which requires more labor and time than some growers can commit to, but it’s worth it to us to be able to offer something unique.”

Growers Need To Offer Value-Added Products In Existing Channels

Future advances in exotic genetics may open up the orchid market even more, as breeders find ways to give consumers what they want. But for now, orchid growers without the means to produce exotics on a large scale must look for other ways to compete. What makes sense for some growers is varieties that are easy and not too expensive to produce, according to Van Wingerden, who says growers need to look more at value-added than special varieties.

The search for differentiation also drives, to some extent, a move toward segmentation in the orchid industry.

“The biggest development I see in the orchid industry is that everyone is diversifying in pot sizes, flower size and shapes,” says Ron van Geest, who directs general and commercially operations at Netherlands-based Floricultura, which also owns Floricultura Pacific, in Salinas, CA. “Growers are also specializ ing in high-end products or concentrating on the retail size where the flowers are not as important.”

Floricultura Pacific recently teamed up with Flamingo Holland to provide customers with high-quality Phalaenopsis orchids and reliable delivery, with Floricultura producing pre-cooled, spiked orchids and liners in Salinas, CA, for the North American market and Canada. Floricultura’s Holland division will provide tissue cultured Phalaenopsis in flasks.

Sleeved orchids at Green Circle Growers
One out of every two orchids grown at Green Circle Growers is purchased as a gift. Birthdays and Mother’s Day are the top occasions for gifting orchids.

A Personal Touch Brings Repeat Customers

One way Green Circle Growers in Oberlin, OH, is distinguishing itself is by making the experience of receiving an orchid more personal. More than half of the company’s customers buy orchids for gifts, particularly for birthdays. When the recipients have a good experience with the product, they’re more apt to gift an orchid to someone else.

Education, to overcome customers’ fears of growing something as exotic as an orchid, is a big part of making the experience of owning an orchid a positive one.

Green Circle’s motto is that growing an orchid is hard — owning an orchid is easy. With 55% of the company’s customers on Facebook and 49% on Pinterest, social media engagement is an important part of getting the word out. Sherer says the company has created tons of care-related content online, which engages massive communities of people to share in the knowledge that owning (and giving) an orchid is easy.

Green Circle’s Just Add Ice brand simplifies the watering process for its customers, assuring them that watering an orchid is as straightforward as adding three ice cubes once a week. Color Orchids has patented another method that helps demystify orchid care. Each orchid it sells comes with a Simpleshot glass so the consumer never has to worry about overwatering. The company now offers the shot glass concept to other growers through Multi Packaging Solutions.

Color Orchids also offers education through its website, including a “Select Your Orchid Problem” section, which educates consumers on what to do about problems like stem breakage and droopy blooms. All of these efforts contribute to customers having good experiences with their orchids — a plus for the industry that can lead to repeat sales and potential new customers.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Foliage & Tropicals...
Portulaca 'ColorBlast Tangerine'

February 26, 2017

2016 University of Georgia Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University Of Georgia trial gardens in Athens, GA.

Read More
University of Wisconsin field trial gardens

February 25, 2017

2016 University of Wisconsin Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Wisconsin display gardens at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station in Verona, WI.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Christmas Joy Marble'

February 20, 2017

5 New Varieties Shaking Up the Poinsettia Tradition

With poinsettias trending toward non-traditional colors, growers may find new opportunities to spread sales beyond the winter holidays. Here are five of the newest euphorbia varieties to hit the market that may play a role in redefining the future of the poinsettia market.

Read More
Latest Stories
Hibiscus Hollywood Gossip Queen

January 24, 2017

29 New Flowering and Foliage Plants from TPIE 2017

The Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was the place to be Jan. 18-20 to catch a peek at some of the new plant introductions making their first appearance on the market.

Read More
Dipladenia Sundenia

January 11, 2017

New Tropical and Foliage Plants That Offer Hidden Benef…

Tropical and foliage plants can offer extra paybacks to your customers in terms of health-promoting benefits such as filtering the air, reducing stress, and absorbing noise. Consider these new varieties, hitting the retail market in 2017, for your product mix.

Read More
Bride with wedding orchids.

January 7, 2017

How to Stand Out in the Orchid Market

With the popularity of the Phalaenopsis orchid growing and its saturation in the market, orchid growers are hunting for new ways to stand out from their competitors.

Read More
westerlay-orchids-feature

January 1, 2017

How Westerlay Orchids Solved Its Bacteria Problem

Water-borne bacteria was causing havoc with Westerlay Orchids’ production, so the company took preventative action to ensure the health of its plants.

Read More

September 5, 2016

7 New Shrubs And Foliage Plants For Spring Interest

Perennials and annuals aren’t the only plants that supply spring color to the garden. Shrubs and foliage plants also add color and interest and are a great way to round out your spring product mix.

Read More
Sansevieria in Corner of home

January 21, 2016

Tropical And Indoor Foliage Plants Emerge As A Lifestyl…

Consumers are incorporating houseplants into their everyday lives, which is driving the trends toward smaller-size plants and unique products that appeal to a younger demographic.

Read More
Caladium Painted Frog Series (Plants Nouveau)

January 17, 2016

16 New Foliage Plants To Round Out The Garden

Every garden needs a good mix of flowering and foliage plants for an attention-grabbing show of thrillers, fillers, and spillers. These new foliage varieties will not only act as a lush backdrop for colorful blooms, they can also stand on their own with their noteworthy textures and colors.

Read More
Streptocarpus 'Yellow Blue Eye' (Green Fuse Botanicals)

January 5, 2016

15 Flowering Foliage And Tropical Plants For The Home A…

Tropical and foliage plants are the ultimate lifestyle plants because they enrich the environment and provide mood-boosting benefits. Take into account some of these new introductions for a crop mix that helps your customers realize the true benefits of plants.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Liven Up Indoor And Outdoor Living With 24 New Tropical…

Uniquely colored foliage and vivid blooms are just two of the great features new tropicals and foliage plants add to energize indoor and outdoor spaces.

Read More

December 31, 2014

Engage Busy Consumers With Modern-Day Tropical And Foli…

Contemporary tropical and foliage plants fit right in with the hustle and bustle of the twenty-first century. Their versatility lends itself to countless uses both inside the house and out on the patio.

Read More
Basics & Beyond: New Kalanchoe For Cultivation

November 24, 2014

Basics & Beyond: New Kalanchoe For Cultivation

Several species of Kalanchoe show promise for commercial production as flowering potted plants. Learn how to improve quality and flowering for these underused varieties.

Read More

March 20, 2014

13 New Tropical Plants For 2014

New tropical varieties are great options for containers and combination planters, and boast bold-colored foliage which is sure to draw attention to patios and landscapes.

Read More

September 16, 2013

Colocasia Royal Hawaiian ‘White Lava’…

Colocasia Royal Hawaiian ‘White Lava’ is the latest in the elephant ear breeding of Hawaii’s Dr. John Cho. ‘White Lava’ forms a tight clump that provides a tropical look in the garden without sacrificing premium real estate. Large glossy green leaves are adorned with a wide band of creamy white down the center of each leaf, later radiating out into the side veins. Each leaf is further highlighted by a large purple spot where the leaf attaches to the stalk. ‘White Lava’ is a medium grower reaching 48 by 36 inches at maturity. It makes an ideal 6-inch pot, 16 by 12 inches. It is perfect for large containers, garden borders or mass landscape planting. For more information, contact PlantHaven International, Inc. at 805-569-9179, email [email protected] or visit the PlantHaven website.

Read More

July 16, 2013

Hot New Potted Plants And Tropicals From 2013 Californi…

Each stop at Spring Trials offers exciting new plants and products and this year, that included a lot of new potted plants and tropicals varieties. Take a look at some of these unique new varieties you can put into next year’s program.

Read More

February 28, 2013

Logee’s Introduces New Fruiting, Rare And Tropica…

For more than 120 years, Logee’s has been the go-to source for fruiting, rare and tropical plants. For 2013, the family-owned company has introduced 75 new plants that are sure to delight both experienced and novice growers. The new plants for 2013 include a “condo mango” tree that is small enough to grow in a pot, and an striking flowering houseplant called a lifesaver plant because its flowers boast a dark red lifesaver rim. “Fruiting plants that can be grown in containers and flowering tropical plants are easy to grow both indoors and in outdoor living areas such as patios, balconies and porches,” says Byron Martin, a third-generation owner of Logee’s. “We are proud that Logee’s has become America’s favorite source for tropical and fruiting plants from all over the world.” Logee’s catalog and website is known for its vast selection of tropical container plants, dwarf citrus trees, vines and […]

Read More

February 27, 2013

Colocasia Royal Hawaiian ‘Kona Coffee’ Is Compact For S…

Colocasia Royal Hawaiian ‘Kona Coffee’ from PlantHaven International has a unique dwarf compact habit with an ultimate height of 2 to 3 feet. It forms a tight clump that provides a tropical look in the garden. This introduction by master breeder Dr. John Cho of Hawaii is topped all summer with glossy slightly cupped foliage that ranges from dark forest green to roasted coffee-bean brown held on dark petioles. Colocasia ‘Kona Coffee’ grows well in full sun or part shade and prefers moist soil. It’s perfect for that wet spot in the yard next to the downspout. Colocasia ‘Kona Coffee’ makes a great container plant or addition to the garden where it can be used en masse with contrasting colors. This variety is robust and disease resistant while not exhibiting any signs of runners. For more information, please contact PlantHaven International Inc. at 805-569-9179, eMail [email protected] or visit the Plant […]

Read More

December 20, 2012

Slideshow: 8 Tropical Plants Your Customers Will Love

PlantHaven The Royal Hawaiian colocasia series from PlantHaven has been bred to be sturdy garden performers and container specimens. Each is disease-resistant with fabulous foliage, stem interest and a tidy clumping habit. Colocasia ‘Maui Gold,’ which has unique white stems, and Colocasia ‘Hawaiian Punch,’ with its bright-red stems, are the latest additions to the series and provide striking complements to the series’ other cultivars.

Read More

December 11, 2012

An Inside Look At The Tropical Plant Trend

Green industry experts explain which plants have become highly popular choices, as well as reveal the up-and-comers they are most excited about.

Read More