When was your business formed? Have flowers always been your primary crop? Is it a family business?If so who are the family members involved?
Wilflora has evolved into New Zealand’s Leading Freesia grower with strong family connections.Established in 1973, situated just out of Feilding, this second generation business has always focused on growing cut flowers for the New Zealand market.
In the last 10 years Freesias have become their specialist crop with a flowering season of 8-9 months of the year, all thanks to clever infrastructure and investment in modern technology (plus hard work 7 days a week).
Plant scientist, Jim Wilson and wife Lynley Wilson initially founded Wilflora to primarily supply a diverse range of flowers and foliage to their local florist shops.Gladioli, Chrysanthemums, Spring Bulbs and later on Zantedeschia were main crops in the early days.Surprisingly Freesias were also one of the first commercial crops that were grown by Wilflora in the early 70’s.Over forty years on,this has now become a major NZ cut flower business, totally specialising in Freesias.
The family nature of this business meant that Martin learnt the tricks of the floriculture trade from a young age.Then upon leaving school at 18, Martin joined the business, working full time.Gradually he started to lead the diversification of Wilflora into growing just Freesias.Martin Wilson and wife Jennifer took over ownership of Wilflora in 2012 and business has continued to ‘bloom’!
How do you grow your product lines?
Wilflora produce consecutive crops to ensure their freesias are flowering for 8-9 months of the year.This spring flower can only be grown out of season due to technological advances.The secret is having the correct soil temperature so the freesia can initiate its flower.Underground cooling technology is a key part of this process in the warmer months.Ducted warm air also ensures there are desirable greenhouse temperatures maintained throughout the winter.Maintaining the desirable air and soil temperature throughout the long growing season is a scientific process that requires constant monitoring.
The natural flowering season would only be 6 weeks (August - September).It is astounding that Wilflora can extend the season so freesias are produced from April to December.This is floriculture on a large scale with over 7000m2 of greenhouse production space - just dedicated to intensive Freesia growing.
A flower support system is used to ensure that stems remain straight and strong.When harvesting Freesias are all selected and picked by hand, just as the flower opens, to ensure a fresh, lasting product.Only top grade premium flowers are picked and marketed.The Wilflora growing operation runs 7 days a week with up to 5-6 team members.
Planning and timing is essential to ensure a continuous supply of flowers.At the end of the flowering season the corms are dug and harvested.These are dried, graded and temperature conditioned to break dormancy - ready to re-plant for the next season.
Tell us what you love about growing flowers for the NZ market…
We believe New Zealand ‘flower lovers’ deserve the very best quality flowers. Our top quality Wilflora freesia flowers are grown just for New Zealand markets and florists.Kiwis love our productas they are recognised as a highly attractive flower with stunning perfume and a long vase life!
NZ grown flowers truly are the freshest you can buy - Wilflora freesias are proudly grown by a Kiwi grower for Kiwis all over NZ to enjoy!They are dispatched direct from our pack-house to flower auctions several times a week - our fast supply chain supports the quality of our product.
How do you keep up with the trends in the market?
A 2004 trip to Holland inspired the ‘sweetly scented’ production of Freesias.Importation of Freesia corms quickly followed.The NZ market was lacking this quality product and Wilflora continue to import freesia corms from leading International breeders in Holland.
We constantly search for new varieties and diverse colour options - as a result our product is highly sought after by florists.We are the first to grow many new release colours that are ‘on trend’. Florists currently love our double white freesias - these are always in the highest demand.
Flower Profile: FREESIA Freesia (leichtlinii, refracta or spp.)
What does it look like?
Sparsely branched stem 10–50 cm tall bearing a few leaves and a loose one-sided spike of flowers with six tepals. Many species have fragrant narrowly funnel-shaped flowers and are generally available in white, hot pink, pale pink, purple, lilac, cream and yellow.
When can you buy them?
Both double and single freesias are available in New Zealand from April to mid-November.
Where can you buy them from?
Any NZ Florist or flower retailer
How do you look after them?
As with any fresh cut flower: Remove all the foliage below the water level. Cut the stems on a slant with scissors and place them in a clean vase with fresh water and flower food.