K&L NURSERIES: An Interview with a Grower

Having started growing their own roses simply to supply their florist shop, Paul and wife Lyn soon expanded the business when joined by daughter Michelle in 2000 to meet the ever-increasing demand for their quality product. Michelle's husband Ian Kempthorne joined full-time in 2006.They are all actively involved ofthe day-to-day running of K&L Nurseries, and the business is still closely aligned to Paul and Lyn’s shop, Andrea’s Florists, in Avonhead, and now K&L Nurseries has purchased Hornby Florist

Specialising in Gerberas and Roses, K&L Nurseries produces more than 2 million stems of cut flowers per year, selling them through wholesale, auction houses and distributing them to retail clients across the South Island. Their ongoing link to the retail side of the industry provides them with unique insights into market trends, allowing them to plan ahead and tailor their growing schedule to meet the ever-evolving needs of their clients.

Committed to an energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly approach, the Polytechnic BioMass Boiler, which runs on woodchips rather than coal, is the first of its kind to be utilised by flower growers in New Zealand, while they go to great pains to ensure only the safest sprays are used on their flowers.

Long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most renowned breeders, along with a commitment to consistently reviewing, adapting, and enhancing the way they operate, has allowed K&L Nurseries to enjoy consistent growth over the last decade, with the company now producing more than 70% of the South Island’s supply of Gerberas. They’re also active in the professional community as members of both Interflora and NZ Flower Growers Association, and enjoy a strong association with Farmlands.

1) When was your business founded?

In 2000

2)Have flowers always been your primary crop?


3)Is it a family run business? If so who are the family members involved?

Father,(Paul) Mother (Lyn), Daughter,(Michelle) Son-in Law (Ian)

4) How do you grow your product lines? (under glass? In trays? Etc)

We grow under glass in coco peat and limited outdoor product

5)How to you pick/process your product lines?

Picking daily roses, Half the gerbera crop each day, boxed freight sent out of Christchurch 3 times a week and auction in Christchurch 3 times /week

6)Tell us what you love about growing flowers for the NZ market.

We love to grow a good product for people to enjoy and come back and get more next time! Making flowers an enjoyable experience.

7)How many stems per season do you produce in each of your product lines?

@ 500,000 stems roses
@1,500,000 stems gerbera

8)How do you keep up with the trends in the market?

Travelling overseas regularly, having our own retail outlets (Hornby Florist and Andreas Florist) means we are daily having contact with the most important retail customers

9)How many staff does it take to keep your business running?

We spread both business with 25 staff made of a mixture of full and part time people as being 7 days a week we need to have a flexible approach to staff levels.

10)What makes NZ Grown Products superior to the rest?

Ethical and eco produced flowers in our nursery, good staff conditions, creating NZ jobs, no systemic sprays used responsible product use. Biomass heating system

11)Explain more about the plant propagation side of your business please

Our Gerbera plants come in to NZ as tissue culture and we bring them on from there. Roses are supplied by other growers in NZ or done under agreement by breeders on site.

Flower Profile: ROSE Rosa

What does it look like?

Roses come in a wide variety of length, shape, colour and size. The most common lengths in NZ production are: 40cm, 50cm, and 60cm. They have dense overlapping petals that spread and eventually drop when blooming. Most commercially grown roses do not have a scent but K&L Nurseries’ specialist rose Red Naomi rose is lightly scented.

When can you buy them?

NZ Grown Roses are available YEAR ROUND!

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.