From 2003 to 2007 was the best period in Europe for the Phalaenopsis
industry. The supply was increased each year. However, the sale price
was stabilized. The Phalaenopsis pot plants were called a miracle
crop in the flower industry. This industry expanded rapidly in these
years. The key point for this industry is the constant supply of
Phalaenopsis pot plants through the years.
I. The process of Phalaenopsis pot plant production
The flow chart of the traditional Phalaenopsis production is
showed in Figure 1. A nursery such as Floricultural and Anthura performs
the breeding, selection and production of young plants. As the young
plants reach the required size (usually determined by leaf width and
culture period), young plants are delivered to a production company such
as Opti-Flor and Ter Laak, young plants are transplanted into 12-cm pots
and sent to the vegetative-phase greenhouse.
In this growing greenhouse, typical day and night temperature are
maintained at 28℃
As these plants reach the mature state, they are moved to a cooling room
for spiking. This environment is maintained at 20℃
for the day and night, respectively.
The required period for the Phalaenopsis pot plants in weeks is
shown in Figure 2. At the nursery, 2 or more years are required to
produce tissue-culture plantlets from the mother plants. These plantlets
are removed from culture vessels and transplanted into a soft tray or
plug tray. After 26 weeks’ culture, plantlets grow to be young plants
and are delivered to the production company. At the production company,
half a year (26 weeks) is required to culture the young plants into
mature plants and treat the plants by cooling for flowering. The
Phalaenopsis pot plants are then transported to auction market or to
the customer directly.
The flow chart in Figure 2 shows the perfect production plan. The
production companies receive the young plants from nurseries in regular
schedules. Each week or every 2 weeks, they receive a fixed quantity of
young plants and prepare them for production. After 46 or more weeks,
these plants are sole as flower products. The production period is
Because of the regular production schedule, the space utilization of a
greenhouse for production is easy to plan. Nearly 30% area is used for
the first stage, the vegetative-phase; 15% area is used for the second
vegetative phase; 17% area is used for spiking; and the last 38% area is
used for flowering. The required labor is fixed and the management is
Because the production companies receive the young plants at a fixed
time, the nursery can easily arrange their production plan. They can
produce the same quantity of young plats every week, so they can prepare
the same quantity of plant-tissue plantlets in the same quantity each
week. In other words, sterile laminar-flow cabinets can operate every
working day and the required number of operators and quantities of
tissue-culture materials are easy to prepare.
So the key to the success story of the Phalaenopsis industry is
the supply of a fixed quantity of plantlets by nurseries. The production
company receives a similar quantity of young plants and sells them after
a fixed culture time. In the auction market, the same quantities of
Phalaenopsis pot plants are sent every working day and similar
quantities of products are sold in the market. In the first stage of
2003-2007, each sector of this Phalaenopsis industry worked well
II. The change of sale price
Since 2008, the quantity of Phalaenopsis pot plants had the
problem of over-supply. The supply during each month in the auction
market was not constant. The sales quantities of Phalaenopsis in
a typical auction market for 2010 and 2011 are in Figure 3. In some
months, the supply quantity was higher.
The sale prices of Phalaenopsis in the auction market for 3 years
(2008-2010) is in Figure 4. Prices were higher in February, May and
November. The lowest price was in summer.
A similar trend could be found in the data for 2014 (Figure 5). There
are three sizes of pot in the flower market. The distribution of prices
for three pot sizes was similar. Higher prices were found in February,
March, May, November and December. The lowest prices were in summer.
III. The new production schedule
At the beginning of the diversity of the Phalaenopsis pot plants
market, different pot sizes were accepted in the market. The production
schedule for four pot sizes is in Figure 6. The required culture period
differs for various pot sizes, and the required space for different pot
sizes differs. The change in production schedule affects the production
period, required greenhouse space and amount of labor. It also affects
the delivery time and quantity of young plants for the nursery.
IV. The estimated demand for Phalaenopsis pot plants in the
The law of demand and supply is the basic principle for the flower
market. The estimated trends of the demand are in Figure 7.
Three types of demands are as follows:
Small demand: June, July, August and the first 2 weeks of September
Moderate demands: January, March, October
High demand: February, May, the last 2 weeks of September, November,
For production companies, the Phalaenopsis production was
affected by their supply of pot plants. The estimated demand for
Phalaenopsis in one auction market of The Netherlands is in Figure
If the total supply quantity is 600,000 units (in Figure 7), the supply
of each week is lower than that of the demand, and the orchid price is
high. That was true in the era of 2003-2007.
If the total quantity is 1,000,000 units (in Figure 7). Orchid company
gain benefit in some months and loss in others’ month. As the gain
larger than loss, they obtain the positive net income.
If the total supply quantity is too high (1,400,000 units in Figure 7),
orchid companies obtain a benefit in only some months. Most of the year,
they receive a negative net income. The total income is negative.
To operate an orchid production company sustainably, the total supply of
Phalaenopsis pot plants for each week or each month should to be
adjusted. Now, to obtain more benefit, the basic way is to reduce
production costs by increasing the growing area of the orchid company.
Some companies with small greenhouse areas were forced out of this
V. Fundamental problems in the Phalaenopsis industry
Besides reducing production costs by increasing greenhouse area, the
other way is to adjust the supply of Phalaenopsis pot plants in
each week or each month, that is, orchid companies could increase the
supply in higher-demand months such as in February, March and May and
reduce the supply in the hot season. In this way, the supply and demand
could be balanced. The supply of Phalaenopsis pot plants is not
constant throughout the year. There will be higher requirements during
some important holidays and pretty low requirements in the summer.
If production companies adopted this new production schedule, the space
utilization of their greenhouse needs to be rearranged. The labor
requirement must be modified. The most important change in the
production schedule is the supply time and quantity of young plants. As
the young plants are delivered, they are not cultured with the same
schedule and sold with same quantity. Orchid production companies want
to order more young plants for high-demand months and fewer quantities
As the production companies change their production plan, a serious
problem occurs in the nurseries. The nursery needs to deliver a high
quantity of young plants in high-demand months and less quantity during
some weeks. It needs to modify the production plan. The laboratories
need to produce more tissue-culture plantlets in some months and reduce
the production in other months. They cannot produce the same quantity of
plantlets for each day or each week. Under this condition, all sterile
laminar-flow cabinets do not operate all around the year. This uneven
production schedule cause management problem in the laboratory. This is
the fundamental problem for the Phalaenopsis industry in Europe.
Some methods could be used to alleviate this uneven production. The
Original Equipment Manufacturer
of tissue-culture plantlets in other countries is one way. However,
overseas laboratories also face same problems of uneven production as
their production scale is expanded.
The uneven supply of flowers to market is the essential problem for the
Phalaenopsis industry could make the balance of demand and
supply. The supply and demand should be balanced. However, the uneven
supply to market induces an uneven production of young plants and
tissue-culture plantlets for the nurseries and problems for nurseries
and production companies.
Note: Black- 2009, Blue- 2010
Figure 3. Sales of Phalaenopsis in a typical auction market
Figure 4. Sale price of Phalaenopsis in a typical auction market
Figure 5. Sale price of three pot sizes of Phalaenopsis in 2014
Figure 7. Estimated demand of Phalaenopsis in The Netherlands
About the author:
Professor Chiachung Chen, Ph. D.
Biosystems Engineering Laboratory
National ChungHsing University
250 KuoKuang Rd.,
Taichung, Taiwan 40227
Tel: 886-4-22857562, Fax: 886-4-22857135
Web site: http://amebse.nchu.edu.tw/orchids_cultivation.htm