Northend Gardens
Niagara Region, Ontario

Ted Oorsprong, Northend Gardens

By Lilian Schaer

There’s a new star in the world of potted houseplants – an exotic beauty with pink flowers that is turning heads across North America. She’s also creating Ontario jobs in the process. The plant, named Medinilla Magnifica, is in high demand, which has helped expand operations and open up new markets for Niagara Region flower grower Ted Oorsprong.

“We are always looking for different flowers that we can bring to market and Medinilla Magnifica really is magnificent,” says Oorsprong, owner of Northend Gardens, who first noticed the plant while in the Netherlands four years ago. “It’s easy to care for and the large cascading blooms last for a long time. It’s been a hit everywhere we’ve taken it.”

This was evident at the 2012 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition in Florida where Oorsprong won “Favourite New Flowering Plant” and “Cool Products of TPIE”. Medinilla also made a stunning debut this side of the border, winning rave reviews at Canada Blooms 2012. Oorsprong is the only grower of the plant in North America, and his ultimate goal is to have Medinilla Magnifica be a commonly recognized name – much like orchids – within five years.

“We’re a young, innovative company and we think the potential for this plant is great,” he says. “There are 100 million orchids sold in North America every year and even getting two to three per cent of that market would be huge for us.”

Medinilla was first sold at Pusateri’s stores in Toronto, and is now available at Metro, Fortino’s and TNT Supermarket stores in Ontario and British Columbia, as well as garden centres and nurseries across Ontario, Quebec, the Northeastern United States, British Columbia, Alberta, Washington and Texas.  And Oorsprong is continuously meeting with new buyers and prospective customers, including at trade shows like Chicago’s Independent Garden Centre Show, to market Medinilla and set up new distribution arrangements.

“New customers are often hesitant, especially with a high end product like Medinilla, so the best way is to show it to people,” explains Oorsprong. “This is a very competitive market, so a phone call alone will not do it.”

The plant has also had extensive media coverage, including being featured on Breakfast Television and the Marilyn Dennis Show and showcased at the Toronto International Film Festival and the 2012 Celebrate Yonge event.  In addition to a direct boost in their sales, Oorsprong says the greatest benefit of Medinilla to their business has been through job creation: their greenhouse was traditionally empty after the spring bedding plant season, and now it’s a year-round facility with year-round jobs.

Medinilla, which originates in the Philippines, takes a year to grow from a cutting, which Oorsprong imports from the Netherlands. He’s now working on developing his own cuttings, as well as adapting the plant to better withstand North American growing conditions. Future plans include introducing more colours and different varieties of the plant, as well as supplying the wedding market.

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Carrie and Ted Oorsprong