JK Plant Nursery doesn’t go for quick wins, and that’s a deliberate choice. Slow is fine too. Nevertheless, this young and dynamic company sets the bar high with its exclusive range of house and garden plants as well as its relationships with partners. Its connections mature on the basis of trust. “This is how you work together to achieve the highest possible quality,” says co-owner Joram Kuijenhoven.
Family business with growth potential
JK Plant officially saw the light of day in 2010. But to find its true roots, we need to go further back in time. “Horticulture is something we grew up with,” explains Joram. “For over 35 years, our father had a garden where he grew plants such as Freesias. My brother Jelle introduced the pot plants in 2010. That marked the real start of JK Plant. I joined the company four years later.”
“Our family business has grown steadily. First, we rented locations where we grew various seasonal products. In 2014, our first milestone was the purchase of our current site in Honselersdijk. That’s when the ball really started rolling. Today, we grow Monsteras, Dahlias, Araucaria Heterophylla and the Canna Cannova at three sites. In a relatively short time, we have expanded from two to more than five hectares.”
Quality takes time
The house and garden plants grown by JK Plant have one thing in common. They are given the time and space to grow. Joram explains why: “Why are we consciously opting for this approach? Because the plants you get are more attractive – and most important of all, they’re stronger. For example, we give Monstera a 30% longer growing period than is customary in the sector. Immediately after planting, we arrange them close together to make optimal use of the space and allow the plants to grow. We move them apart after a number of weeks. We do this as early as possible so that the plants become sturdy and develop more body.”
Producing strong, top-quality plants is not the only way in which JK Plant stands out from the competition. The variety of pot sizes and their distinctive image stand out too. They can also pride themselves on being the only grower of Monsteras under the Air So Pure label. “This label came our way five years ago, actually for the Spathiphyllum. We had taken them over from another grower who sold the plants under the label. That gave us the idea to get our Monsteras tested too. And that’s how it happened. What makes Air So Pure unique? They only sell plants that have been scientifically proven to be highly air purifying. In fact, to put it even more strongly, they also remove harmful substances from the air and improve air quality.”
Dahlia and Canna
In addition to Monsteras, JK Plant also grows Dahlia and Canna Cannova. “What started out 10 years ago with 25,000 plants has now grown to more than 300,000 Dahlias per season. All these plants are grown in pots of a matching shade. We work with Dümen Orange, a supplier of interesting genetics.
And when it comes to growing Cannas, we can increasingly call ourselves an established name. We grow them in a 17 cm pot with the genetics of Takii, the Canna Cannova. This is a beautiful and continually flowering Canna, which distinguishes it from its peers. We can deliver these with a visible flower, but also with the flower not yet visible. The advantage? You can get more plants on the trolley and don’t suffer any losses in the store. That way, consumers get to see the plant flowering in all its glory.”
Nordic Pine: more than just a pine
JK Plant is not resting on its laurels, however. This autumn, the nursery will be launching its own label: Nordic Pine. “I’m Pine, how are you?”, we read on Instagram. And that sets the tone for this new label right away. “We are virtually the only company on the market that grows Araucaria Heterophylla. But hardly anyone can pronounce the name correctly. Nordic Pine sounds a lot more commercially attractive. What makes this plant so special? Its festive image and its versatility. At the point of sale, the consumer buys it all dressed up. Once the Christmas period is over, you can simply give it a place as a green house plant.”
Collaboration in good and bad times
The Nordic Pine heads out to the customer ready to roll. Lightening the load in this way is typical of JK Plant. “The relationship with the client takes centre stage. We work together in a partnership. The same applies to Floréac. Over the past three years, our relationship has become closer. I often compare it to a marriage. You promise to take care of each other in good and bad times. An example? I ensure a wide range when there is scarcity on the market. Conversely, Floréac purchases from us in sufficient quantities when there is an oversupply. Trust and open communication are the key words for us. If problems arise, we solve them together.”
Innovative horticulture sector
We are in the middle of an energy crisis and the end is not yet in sight. How is JK Plant dealing with this? “I remain cautiously optimistic. The sector is often faced with major challenges. In the past, we have always found a solution. Now, as well, I think we will be able to innovate.
On our own site, we have a single CHP system for the three interconnected locations. It is more efficient than an ordinary gas boiler. This system also absorbs peaks and troughs in the electricity network, so that private individuals don’t notice shortages in the electricity market.
Meanwhile, we are not sitting still and are keeping our eyes open for other solutions. Personally, I am convinced that we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Sustainability is an important issue within our company, by the way. We have the necessary certificates, including MPS A, MPS-GAP, MPS-SQ and Sedex. In addition, we fight pests and diseases using organic methods as much as possible and reuse our water.”
Optimistic, with a degree of caution
And finally, we come to the future. What do you see in your crystal ball, Joram? “I think the green trend will continue for some time to come. What does concern me rather is the shrinkage of the supply. A whole generation of growers is disappearing, and for the time being there is nobody to replace them. Either it isn’t profitable enough, or people are getting cold feet. The timing isn’t really right to enter the horticultural sector at the moment. But as I said, we are an innovative sector, so things will work out all right.”