Breeder Interplant  Roses; the journey from amateur to major global player

This year, rose breeder Interplant Roses celebrates its 60th birthday!
Throughout 2022 a number of events will be organized to mark this achievement. The first of these events was the launch, in mid january, of a new and informative company film.

This family business, which began its journey in 1962, has in the last 60 years made an amazing transition from being just a couple of amateur enthusiasts, to becoming a major player in the world market of cut roses!

Here is a quick overview of the decades of dedication it has taken to achieve success.

Pioneer in breeding

At the beginning of the sixties, a young Peter, 2nd generation of the Ilsink family, joined the business. He was even then not totally a beginner, as since his childhood, whenever his father and uncle were busy in the fields around Leersum selecting roses, he would be with them.

The way breeding was done then was very hit and miss. You just put a variety of plants next to each other, stood back and let nature take its course. Then you selected what you felt were the resulting best roses.

Peter felt that there was possibly a major future for the company in the cut rose business. But he was uncertain as how best to achieve this. So he decided to ask advice. He approached Ir. Van Doesburg, the director of the former test station in Aalsmeer. The two men came to a historical conclusion. There were plenty of spray carnations  and spray chrysanthemums on the market but there were no sprayroses at all. The field was wide open. This could be the future!

Peter set up his own greenhouse so that he could carry out his own cross pollination trials. No one could have guessed, that this small green house of just 50 square meters, would be the start of a new and exiting business.

The transformation to professional breeder

Once the decision had been made to proceed with breeding cut roses, things moved fast.

The cut rose market, previously restricted to Aalsmeer, started up internationally and Peter quickly realized he had to grow to a much bigger scale. So he used his extensive international contacts to showcase his products and to get them  tested in other climates and under other conditions.

He also looked carefully at his fellow international  breeders and he realized  he would have to expand his product range if he really wanted  to be successful. And so, after putting all this into practice, in the early eighties Interplant Roses brought its first very own rose varieties  to the market. But success came neither quickly nor easily but rather with many ups and downs. Both the product shelf life and the methods of transporting the roses  to the market needed improvement and Peter admits, that at times they seriously doubted  whether they should really continue with this line of business.

However, a new chapter started when breeder, Ir Adri van Doesem, joined  the team. Quickly thereafter, their first really successful  sprayrose line ‘Lydia®’ was launched.

Grower interest was aroused and Peter further expanded his global reach. Large scale production was started in Japan, Ecuador, Kenya, Zimbabwe and The Netherlands. Through this growing international network, the company really began to develop into a major player on the world market.

Family business Interplant Roses becomes a major success

What has been the major ingredients for Interplants success? Looking back over the last 60 years, Peter concludes that, in addition of course to his love for growing roses, a extraodinary dose of  imagination and above all lots of perseverance have been absolutely critical.

‘It is’, he says, ‘very important to be willing to dare to do things differently. You must have the courage to set new trends. You have to be and to remain creative. Finally, you must realise that todays success will not be tomorrows’.

It may seem to outsiders that success in this breeding business was just there for the taking.

‘That is totally untrue’, notes Peter. ‘Rose breeding is learning to put up with disappointment. If you cannot  handle disappointment, you are finished’, declares the spry eighty year old who, practically every day, can still be found making his rounds through the greenhouses. These have now grown to cover 2 hectares (5 acres) and are situated in Harmelen, just outside Utrecht, in The Netherlands.

Peter says he is not involved anymore in the day-to-day running of the nursery. He is very happy to have been able to hand that over to his sons Robert and Martijn. And now his grandson Jurjen, the fourth generation of Ilsinks has also joined the firm. When asked what he has learnt from his grandfather Jurjen is very brief: ‘stay focussed and never give up. If you give up to easy, you’ll never know how close you were’.

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