Dutch Lily Days Shows Off New Varieties

Do your customers love the big, full look of lilies — but hate their strong aroma?

Get excited. Breeders in the Netherlands have come up with several pollen-free varieties, among other intriguing advancements to delight your clientele.

Tyler Meskers, operations manager for Oregon Flowers, attended Dutch Lily Days earlier this summer and told Florist 2.0 about a few things coming down the pipeline.

Thirteen of the nation’s breeders participated in Dutch Lily Days, opening their facilities to growers and exporters, and showing off some of their newest inventions.

“This is a fairly new event,” Meskers said. “Previously, there was a show for the public at the Keukenhof, but now it’s geared for professionals in the trade — to highlight what’s new and get their input. Breeders like to hear from us [growers and exporters], because we talk to wholesalers and customers.”

For instance, hearing that strong fragrance gave people headaches and that pollen often stains petals (not to mention clothing), breeders have focused on creating pollen-free varieties, as well as lilies with very subtle scents.

“They had some very intriguing ‘Starfighter’ alternatives. Those would definitely be popular in our market,” Meskers said. “There were also lots of new LA hybrids with potential.”

In past years at Dutch Lily Days, Meskers discovered several roselily (also known as double lilies), which customers have eaten up. “Lots of stars from SAF’s Outstanding Varieties Competition¬†emerged from Dutch Lily Days,” he said, including ‘Amarossi’, a bright pink Oriental Trumpet that won Best in Class and People’s Choice honors in 2014 and ‘Tabledance’, a salmon-colored Oriental that won Best in Show last year. (At press time, Meskers hadn’t yet decided which varieties his company will enter in the upcoming competition, Sept. 6-9, during the Society of American Florists’ 133rd annual convention in Palm Beach, Florida.)

Since returning from Dutch Lily Days, Meskers has had to practice patience. “For most of these new varieties, the quantity of bulbs isn’t high enough to introduce commercially yet,” he said. “It can take two to four years. It’s tough, because we’re excited, but we have to wait.”

Want to learn more about Oregon Flowers’ latest introductions and what to expect in the next decade? Catch Meskers next month at The Breakers in Palm Beach.