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New products in the limelight at international floral trade show

NEW YORK — New products such as green orchids and spray roses 100 or more to the stem in startling new colors and double-sized blossoms were introduced at the World Floral Expo, here, March 13-15.

Arie Van Vugt, president of Plainview Growers in Pompton Plains, NJ, is one of three growers in the United States licensed to use a patented Dutch infusion technology to produce brightly colored orchids. A blue orchid came out about three years ago; lavender, two years ago; yellow last year; and this year, he introduced a bright green orchid called Limelight.

“Our color orchid sales are up 10 percent this year,” Mr. Van Vugt observed. “We have a steady business with them 52 weeks a year, but sales spike on major holidays. Our new Limelight green orchids are selling well for St. Patrick’s Day, as you can imagine. Orders for blue and purple fusion are strong for Mother’s Day. Easter runs more to pastels, lavender and yellow orchids. We upgrade our colored orchids in organza and ceramics.”

Plainview is a 25-year-old firm specializing in Phalaenopsis orchids that sells wholesale potted flowers mostly in New England and Canada, though its license for colored orchids is not limited, Mr. Van Vugt said. The colored orchids all use white orchids infused with dye, except Purple Fusion, which uses a pink orchid. After one blooming cycle, the orchid returns to white.

The innovative Dutch family firm that first bred the spray rose a half-century ago is now ringing the changes on that flower, with brothers and directors Martin and Robert Ilsink introducing new striped and bi-colored varieties and a premium line with rose heads twice the size of conventional spray rose blossoms.

“We need to be more than farmers,” Robert Ilsink chimed in. “We need to be entrepreneurs and educate consumers on what we can offer.” The brothers Ilsink have done just that, teaming up with Subati Flowers, a grower in Nairobi, Kenya, headed by Ravi Patel.

“Eastern Europeans like long stems, and lots of blossoms,” Mr. Patel said. “We can grow one stem with more than a hundred roses on it.” The flower trade between Kenya and the United States is hampered by lack of a direct cargo flight, Mr. Patel stated.