Plantae Orchids has got to be the number one grower and underestimated online plant shop in South Africa.
I discovered Plantae about a year ago, and I’ve been a constant customer since then. Not only do they have amazing plants that are hard to find at your average nursery but the packaging and quality of the plants are unrivalled.
So needless to say, I’ve been a big fan and I just HAD to reach out to get to know them better. I spoke to co-founder Tinus to find out more:
1) When did you start Plantae Orchids and why?
We started Plantae Orchids in 2004. The idea was to be able to supply South African orchid- (and other plant-) lovers with interesting, new, rare and seldom seen plants. Added to this was the notion that if we make your passion your work, it will never feel like you are working. There is only some truth to this though 🙂 As with any business, there is always still admin, dealing with difficult customers and staff headaches
2) Who is behind Plantae Orchids?
Plantae Orchids was founded by Tinus Oberholzer and Nollie Cilliers. Both of us have been plant-lovers/collectors from high school. Tinus went on to study Horticulture and wanted to get away from mainstream horticulture by specialising. Nollie, an engineer by trade, wanted to get away from the corporate world and all the politics involved. So we decided to pursue our passion.
3) How many of the plants that you grow are imported and how many are grown in SA?
In most cases we try and source new, unusual and rare plants from all over the world in order to multiply and grow ourselves. We would import a few plants, in some cases just one (depending on the price and availability) in order to grow and see how we can propagate it. Certain plants are difficult to propagate so we will import tissue culture plants of those. Some orchids will work out just too expensive for us to grow from seedling so those would for instance be imported as large flowering size plants. The wonderful thing about being collectors ourselves is that we can draw from plants in our collection for propagation when something which has not been popular for years suddenly increases in demand. We do a lot of breeding on the orchid side, it is always interesting to see the results from one’s own crosses a few years after you have made the hybrid.
4) Do you personally have a favourite family or species of plants?
This I think is like asking a parent to choose between their children, so it is difficult question to answer. One’s favourite also changes over time. One group of plants might suddenly grow and flower much better than others, then they climb in ranking. As with many plant collectors the rarity of the plant also sometimes influences how you perceive a plant. It might not be very striking or beautiful but just very rare and this ‘clouds’ one’s judgement from time to time.
5) Indoor plants are currently experiencing a hike in popularity in the world. Has your business felt this? Are your plants more in demand?
We have definitely felt this. We have been able to sell certain plants which we have not been able to sell for years. The demand in some plants have increased dramatically. It is a little sad to see that some people only look for those plants with the most likes or shares on social media while missing out on a few treasures along way. The new indoor plant craze has even gone as far as leading to some people buying just popular plants because they are popular, not because they find it attractive or any other reason and in the process not buying something which you truly love.
6) Would you mind telling us what the rarest plant in your collection is?
Rarity is a funny concept. With some plants you will find something which might be completely extinct in the wild to be quite common in cultivation. Some plants which were available by the truck load at one stage and are not as popular any more can become ‘rare’ quite quickly as people do not continue to grow them or look after them. In some cases you might regard a newly described species as rare as you are the only person in the country who owns a plant but there are lots of them still in nature. A plant which we as South Africans might consider to be rare might be quite common in the rest of the world and visa-versa.
Get involved on social media by following them: @plantae_Orchids