New Pao Tau is growing research-backed orchids for the masses

New Pao Tau purple and white orchard in a pot.
New Pao Tau purple and white orchard in a pot.

Vineland is a member of the Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN), collaborating with small- and medium-sized organizations to advance the development, adoption and implementation of technologies to support the greenhouse industry. 

Orchids have become a staple in indoor floral decorating where you can easily spice up a room with a beautiful potted orchid. They continue to increase in popularity across North America with market demand and production of potted orchids doubling between 2016 and 2020. New Pao Tau Enterprises Inc. (New Pao Tau) is adopting an innovative method by utilizing alternative substrates with superior water retention and release capabilities compared to the conventional bark-based substrates, often used for growing orchids.

New Pao Tau grows a large selection of phalaenopsis at its newly opened, state-of-the-art facility on a five-acre parcel of land in Beamsville, Ontario. To stay competitive, Michael Pang, Owner of New Pao Tau, realized he was going to need research data to help his products stand out. With a new greenhouse in the Niagara region, Michael became familiar with Vineland and reached out to see which opportunities were possible.

As a member of the Greenhouse Technology Network, Vineland was able to take on this research project to help Michael and the New Pao Tau team identify the substrate best-suited for the consumer market and find a solution that would result in increased customer satisfaction.

In Vineland’s newly restored Jordan Building, the Plant Responses and the Environment team conducted an indoor research trial evaluating the shelf life of orchids grown in moss versus bark-based substrates at three blooming stages (100, 50 and 0 per cent) with three levels of irrigation (none, light and optimal) to understand parameters such as leaf thickness, number of buds/flowers, chlorophyll content and overall structure of the plant.

Results suggested that the water retention abilities of moss have a significant impact on plant health, reflected by leaf thickness. Even without irrigation, the moss-grown plants maintained leaf thickness and their overall healthier appearance was more likely to make them more appealing to the consumers compared to the plants grown in bark.

At the end of the trial, the flowers grown in moss were on average 97 per cent larger compared to those grown in bark, which is associated with the available water content of the substrate.

“For the consumer, orchids are a difficult plant to care for. Ensuring that the orchids are grown in the best material with optimal care instructions is critical for their longevity. Understanding if there are new technologies which can improve plant health is an innovative way to support the industry,” said Nicole De Long, Director, Business and Client Development at Vineland.

The company now understands the direction required to move forward with the best substrate and care procedures to increase customer satisfaction while hopefully positively impacting product sales.

Michael hopes to expand on Vineland’s findings by putting a heavier emphasis on marketing.

“This was a very good report and now, we need to find ways to take the information we learned and share it with our customers in a digestible way, so marketing will be a focus moving forward for us,” he said.

With the new facility up and running in Beamsville, Michael indicated “…the first plants will be coming out from there in February, and after 20 years of hard work, we’ve finally gotten to the next level of producing orchids with this state-of-the-art greenhouse to bring even more products to our customers. The quality is there, we have the research now to back it up and we’re ready to promote New Pao Tau products in the marketplace.”

Visit the New Pao Tau website or check them out on Facebook.

For more information, please contact:
Nicole De Long, PhD, Director, Business and Client Development
905.562.0320 x747

This project is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

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