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Meet Vietnam’s orchid queen

Meet Vietnam’s orchid queen

Sunday, April 03, 2022, 17:25 GMT+7
Meet Vietnam’s orchid queen
Le Thi Kim Phuong stands near a garden with many species of orchids she grew herself in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Kim Anh / Tuoi Tre

Lieu Thi Kim Phuong, 36, is the proud owner of over 200 species of Dendrobium orchids that she has hybridized herself.

Phuong’s dedication to growing orchids and the business she has created around her passion recently earned her the title of 'Best Business and Entrepreneur' and landed her brand amongst the Outstanding Brands in Asia-Pacific 2021.

After graduating from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Agriculture and Forestry, Phuong worked for several companies which specialized in growing plants and ornamental trees.

In her spare time, she developed a passion for orchid propagation, eventually choosing to invest her life savings in orchids so that her passion might blossom into a business.   

After several failures early on, Phuong began seeking advice from professors and colleagues before eventually becoming successful in propagating orchids.

Four years ago, she rented a 200-square-meter space in Phuoc Binh District, Thu Duc City in Ho Chi Minh City to set up a laboratory so she could grow enough orchids to meet the local demand.

"I use pollination and sowing methods to propagate orchids," Phuong explained.

“I failed many times, but now I have successfully hybridized more than 200 species of Dendrobium orchids and my collection is still expanding."

But Phuong’s success was not without its setbacks. 

When she first started, it took her nearly a year to fulfill orders from botanical nurseries to plant certain species of orchids. 

Deciding whether or not to invest in Dendrobium orchids – the species she typically grows – or more popular species such as Pensoda orchids and mutant orchids was a difficult decision for Phuong.

"My desire is for the Vietnamese market to have its own species of orchid," she said.

"This ambition inspired me to change careers and begin researching how to breed new orchid species through hybridization."

Her biggest challenge was learning the differences in propagation techniques needed for each species of orchid. 

So far, she has only completed about one-tenth of the work she hopes to do. 

In the future, she plans to selectively grow orchids based on the colors she produces after 5-7 generations. 

She also has plans to file for an international copyright on orchid species. 

Outside of her business, Phuong is also working on building a community of like-minded collaborators by sharing videos of herself at work and offering entrepreneurial advice to others, particularly young people with similar ambitions. 

Phuong’s company Vuon Lan Viet (Vietnam's Orchid Garden) not only supplies botanical nurseries with new crossbred species but also with seedlings and pots of flowering orchids.

She also sells to customers across Vietnam through e-commerce sites, websites, and social media platforms.

Besides hybridization and propagation, Vuon Lan Viet designs decorative orchid bundles.

The company employs a total of about 35 workers, including 15 permanent employees and 20 experienced contract workers.

Apart from the seedlings grown in the company's gardens, Vuon Lan Viet supplies the market with about 5,000 orchid flasks each month.

In the future, Phuong hopes to work with botanical nurseries to export Vietnamese orchids to foreign markets.

In this way, Vietnamese orchids will gain a foothold in the international market.

"In my opinion, farmers need to become entrepreneurs who use innovative technologies in production, add more value to their products, and get rid of the prejudice that farmers are laborers who always need to work hard," Phuong said.

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Kim Thoa - Kim Anh / Tuoi Tre News

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