A Greenhouse Filled With Lilies and Butterflies

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Zabo Plant was the epicenter of the 2024 Dutch Lily Days. The official kick-off on Tuesday the 4th of June was visited by hundreds of industry professionals who celebrated the 40th anniversary of this world-class bulb exporter and hailed the flower itself: the lily.

Breeders, growers, of bulbs, lily plants and cut flowers; everyone playing a role in the production and promotion of lilies were present in the small town of ‘t Zand in the north-western part of the Netherlands to witness how lilies are still a flower to behold, and available in more and more shapes than ever before.

Zabo Plant had a special introduction to their new Butterfly lilies and presented an extension of the highly demanded Roselily series. And, especially for its 40th anniversary, co-owner Jacob Langelaan reflects on the role this company plays in the lily industry. So, get ready to flutter like a butterfly through the greenhouses of Zabo Plant and learn everything about the opening event of Dutch Lily Days and the novelties that were presented.

Dutch Lily Days at Zabo Plant

Because of its 40th anniversary, Zabo Plant had the privilege to host the grand opening. And grand it was. E-commerce manager Dirk Scholten guided the spectators through an extensive program varying from need-to-knows to nice-to-sees.

There were various presentations from different angles to learn more about the story of the lily as a cut flower and as a pot plant. Like its position in the US and European markets, at the clocks and trading systems of Royal FloraHolland, a grower’s point of view by lily growers of the [Royal] FloraHolland Product Committee (FPC), and the efforts that are made to bring this flower better under the attention of florists and consumers through — of course — these Dutch Lily Days, but also a consumer addresses campaign called ‘Love for Lilies’ that emphasizes on the flower’s robustness and attention value with the slogan “Not Grown to Be Subtle.”

Last, but surely not least, was the interview with Irene Schouten, a former speed skating professional and multi-time world and Olympic champion. As the daughter of a bulb grower, she knows exactly how world-class bulb growing is a top sport too.


Irene Schouten, special guest at Dutch Lily Days, and Jawin van der Steen with Butterfly lilies


Lily Butterfly Series

There were quite some novelties to see at Zabo Plant. That started with the premiere of the Lily Butterfly series. As you may have seen in a sneak preview already, this is a medium-height double-flowered LA-Hybrid cut lily with a high bud count, pollen-free blooms, and no smell. This flower is, therefore, allergy-friendly. For lily growers, the Butterfly series is considered perfect for seeking a quick turnaround without compromising on quality.

No less than three colors/varieties were already presented to the public that went inside the greenhouses: Lily Butterfly Crosscourt (yellow), Deuce (orange), and Caddy (red).


Yellow Butterfly lilies by Hobaho
Lily Butterfly Crosscourt


Roselilies OT Series

Also in the Roselily range, there was an innovation to see as well: Roselilies as OT varieties. It was impossible to miss the beautiful bi-colored Oriental Trumpets in the Zabo Plant greenhouse and being arranged in several floral artworks. These new varieties are a valuable addition to the current assortment of double oriental lilies, offering a broader color palette and more efficient cultivation as key advantages.

Like all other Roselilies, these double-flowered OT Roselilies have no pollen  —  so allergy-friendly, and no risk of stains on clothes and carpet — and a very subtle fragrance.

The new Roselily line is a result of the close collaboration of breeders World Breeding and De Looff Lily Innovation and will be gradually introduced to growers and traders worldwide in the coming years.


Roselily bicolor OT at Zabo Plant
One of the new bicolored OT Roselily novelties.


Jacob Langelaan About Dutch Lily Days and Zabo’s 40th Anniversary.

How does it feel to be hosting the grand opening of Dutch Lily Days? And how do you keep up with all developments in the world, the market, and your own company? Many questions, but Zabo Plant’s co-owner Jacob Langelaan has an answer to them all.

What does it mean for Zabo Plant to participate in the Dutch Lily Days?


“This is very natural for Zabo Plant. We have always been able to achieve great collaboration with other growers. So, combining our greenhouse with them during Dutch Lily Days was the best decision we could make.”

What makes the Dutch Lily Days an important event for the lily market for you?


“As Zabo Plant we can show the latest developments, make plans together, and put our customers on the right track.”

Which new varieties or innovations are you presenting this year during the Dutch Lily Days?


“First of all, the Lily Butterfly series. This is really a new adventure for us that we have only just started! Furthermore, the improved varieties of the Roselily: After the Oriental Roselilies, there are now also hybrid OT varieties. These are easier for the growers and are better suited to the soil types they have.”

How has participation in the Dutch Lily Days in recent years influenced the growth of Zabo Plant?


“Dutch Lily Days is a great time to meet all existing customers, spend time together, and exchange new ideas. It helps to take a step further and strengthen customer relationships.”

This year you are celebrating Zabo Plant’s 40th anniversary during the Dutch Lily Days. What does this anniversary mean to you personally?


“I am very proud of it! We have always been involved with flowers and have built up this company through our passion for flowers. We have a great team, in which old and young work together very well. In other words: 1 + 1 = 3!”

Can you give us a glimpse into the history of Zabo Plant and how the company has developed over the past 40 years?


“Zabo Plant was founded forty years ago by three brothers. When I joined the company, thirty years ago, there were still two brothers in it. At that time, Zabo Plant sold about 60,000 crates of bulbs per year. Nowadays those 700,000 crates per year, plus another 200,000 crates from Chile. At the moment the company is owned by the only remaining founder, one of the three brothers, and three partners, including myself. It may therefore no longer really be one family business, but I can say that we are certainly good friends!”

What challenges has Zabo Plant overcome over the past four decades, and how have these experiences shaped the company?


“We have certainly had a number of setbacks in recent years. For example, it was a big deal when a number of our customers in China had to go to prison because the state subsidies they received had not been used correctly. People disappeared behind bars and left Zabo Plant with a pile of bulbs. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic was a difficult time too: markets closed while the barns were filling or already full, and customers were desperate and seemed to have nothing to help them out of this sudden crisis. Besides these entrepreneurial setbacks, we have also lost two very good colleagues due to tragic accidents. These were real blows and we experience them as a great loss.”

What are your future visions for Zabo Plant, especially after celebrating such a milestone?

Answer: “Our biggest challenge is innovation. We want to continuously improve, make cultivation sustainable, and make progress. It takes time to do everything right. Work hard for great products and good results. If we manage all that we will get to thrive another forty years.”

What Happened at Zabo Plant…

Lily-minded breeders, growers, traders, florists, and consumers already looking out for the next edition of Dutch Lily Days! Check the 1-minute after movie to get a taste of what happened at Zabo Plant in 2024:



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