Gerben Ravensbergen about lily Corleone

Pillar box red the power of lily ‘Corleone’

Gerben Ravensbergen: ‘‘Corleone’ will be available year round by next season.’

Why do certain lilies work out better for growers than other varieties? Adding a new cultivar to a portfolio is a well-considered choice. Lilies of Life from Rijnsburg mainly grows LA varieties. “We were looking for a proper red, which we found in ‘Corleone’”, says Gerben Ravensbergen. Lilies of Life aims at the higher end of the market. However, according to Ravensbergen, it is also important to carry a bread and butter range from a business point of view. “We only sell a few bunches to a few buckets of our exclusive cultivars per customer. Transporting small volumes is incredibly expensive. This is where our bread and butter range comes in. It contains all the main colours, such as red, orange, pink, white, yellow and peach. If customers also order trolley loads from our bread and butter range with each order they place, it will make our exclusive range more affordable.”

Colour is not the only criteria, which a lily is selected by. Characteristics of growth are equally important. “Lily ‘Corleone’ fits in our growing schedule. The lead time between planting and bunching is between 70 and 80 days. Ravensbergen started with ‘Corleone’ in 2013. As with every new variety, it undergoes a number of tests before it is being added to the current range. “By next season, we will be growing this variety year round. This shows you how much trust we have in its success.”


‘Corleone’ is a pillar box red LA and refers to mobster family Corleone from the bestseller and success movie The Godfather. This cultivar has multiple strengths, Ravensbergen sums up: “It can be grown year round without affecting the consistency in quality, the colour is vividly visible at the top flowers at an early stage, which is positive for sales. It’s a quick and easy to grow variety and it transports very well. As part of Lilies of Life’s exclusive range, ‘Corleone’ goes out to floral designers throughout the world, from Los Angeles to Tokyo. The big headed lilies are full of energy so they lend themselves perfectly for dry shipping to any distant destination.”

The lilies from Lilies of Life mainly go out to florists. They are also piloting a few projects with selected supermarkets and online retail. “As we are carrying an exclusive range, it’s an ongoing process when it comes to marketing, sales and logistics. Lilies are generally sold in bud. Our LA lilies tend to look mundane at flower traders’ stands compared to big Orientals. It’s not hard to imagine, which variety florists will go for at first sight. That’s why we have chosen for distinctive sleeves to stand out from the bulk. A lot of the trade is done online nowadays. Trading companies and their customers can order directly from our stock. Many web shops offer our lilies including product photos and sales through a direct online stock connection is becoming more mainstream by the day. However, the flower auctions are still valuable to us, they’re an important point of sale, especially in regards to attracting potential new customers.”

Text: Lilian Braakman
Photos: René Faas

Gerben Ravensbergen about lily Corleone