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Sākums   »   ZOO NEWS   »   Tropica

Tropica Aquarium Plants is a privately owned Danish company, based in Egå near Aarhus. The company was founded by Holger Windeløv in 1970. In 2004, the company was sold to JPS Clemens, due to a generational change and the new owners established a new nursery garden in 2007 as the base of a long-term strategy.


Tropica Aquarium Plants aims to increase the joy and experience of having having an aquarium as a hobby. The company develops, produces and sells aquarium plants, fertiliser and aquarium equipment. We deliver on a daily basis to retailers all over Europe, Asia and North America.

A paradise of tropical plants way up north

Nobody expects to find the world's leading producer of tropical aquarium plants in Denmark – a cold, windy country half a world away from the humid heat of the rain forest. And even fewer are prepared for the unique interplay between the latest technology and the committed, loving care that forms the basis for Tropica's uncompromising quality.


Tropica took a decisive step forward as a company in 2007. After more than 35 years' production at the same location, we moved to completely new surroundings on 1 May 2007. We made a major investment in a new nursery so we could continue to supply some of the best aquarium plants in the world. This 11,000 square metre electronically monitored nursery with accompanying biotechnology laboratory got off to a modest start in 1970 as the result of founder Holger Windeløv's passion for his hobby – a burning interest in aquarium plants. Today, Tropica employs about 50 people who are all infected by the enthusiasm that created the original business.


Plants are living organisms and, like everything else, they thrive best when they are treated with competent care and respect. Every year, Tropica cultivates several million aquarium plants in more than 130 different varieties that are exported to most countries in the world. Systematic research and comprehensive biotechnological knowledge combined with cultivation in an environment where computers constantly ensure the optimum nutrition and growth conditions naturally mean a great deal where quality is concerned. But we are convinced that it is the heartfelt, genuine interest in the plants that is the most important reason why Tropica plants are recognised everywhere as the most beautiful, healthiest, and most robust aquarium plants on the market.


Rapid, reliable deliveries everywhere.


Tropica is the preferred brand name in tropical aquarium plants in countries throughout the world. This places us under an obligation. So, in collaboration with the carriers we use, we have built up a rapid, efficient distribution system that is absolutely decisive when dealing with living plants. Together, we have organised a control and service system that minimises the risk of faulty deliveries.


Tropica plants are individually packed in special packaging that protects them against physical damage. In addition, the plants are effectively protected against the influence of heat and cold during transport.


Everything has been optimised in relation to plant growth at our new nursery. But we have also devoted much thought to efficient production flow – all the way from potting to production to packing the plants. A flow that ensures the plants maintain their high quality throughout the process.


Our plants always reach our distributors in a fresh, attractive condition, ready for sale. There is always somebody at the office ready to help you if you have any questions. We speak several languages.

Reproduction by seeds

Tropica produces several of the major genera from seeds - such as Alternanthera reinickii "pink", Lobelia cardinalis, and Ludwigia glandulosa.


Producing plants from seeds has many advantages - seen from the end-user's point of view, it produces many plants in each pot and the plants tend to be compact. But more important is the fact that plants produced in this way grow on the same mineral wool from the time the seeds are put onto it to the time the plants leave the nursery. This makes them stronger and more capable of survival as the roots are not disturbed during the growing process and, as will be familiar, healthy roots are the basis for prolific growth and a high level of adaptability to new environments.

Tropica has several members of staff who possess great experience in producing plants from seeds - from the time a new plant is ready for production to the weekly delivery of thousands of plants propagated in this way. The process can be outlined as follows:

Mother plants

The first step in the process is to propagate mother plants that can supply seeds for production on an ongoing basis. It is particularly important in this connection to be familiar with the factors that promote flowering, such as light, the length of the day, and temperature, but also to ensure a stock of healthy, robust mother plants.

The species produced from seeds by Tropica are all autogamous, which means they pollinate themselves - but some of them can be helped to yield more seeds through manual pollination. Tropica's staff therefore play 'birds and bees' and harvest pollen manually from the stamens and place it on the style. This increases both the number and size of the ovules on the mother plant.


Harvesting seeds from mother plants
When the mother plant reaches the right age, flowers and forms ovules, the next challenge is to determine when and how the seeds should be harvested. The majority of our seeds are harvested from the pods - some plants are cut and laid to dry with stems, leaves, and pods so that the seeds can mature as the plant dries. With other plants, seeds can be harvested direct from the pods on the plants. When the seeds have been harvested they must be threshed to separate them from their capsules and then passed through sieves to remove the remains of the plant and capsules. Finally, it is necessary to make sure the seeds are absolutely dry before storing them.


Seed germination
Some seeds germinate easily when spread on mineral wool under normal light, nutrition, moisture, and temperature conditions in the greenhouses. Other seeds must be treated in order to promote their ability to germinate. Temperature and moisture are usually decisive in determining whether a seed will germinate. Light is a third factor - both its composition and the length of the day.


From seed to sales plant
During the time the seed has germinated to the time Tropica has a plant ready for sale, the most important factor is to adapt moisture levels on an ongoing basis (newly-sown pots are put into a tent), but otherwise, growth conditions for these plants are comparable to that of the other plants in Tropica's production. It typically takes eight to ten weeks from the time the seeds are placed on the growth medium to the time there are many plants in each pot ready for sale.

About emerse production of aquarium plants

Time spent out of water provides strength for life under water. In the wild, nine out of ten tropical aquarium plants are capable of surviving both above and below the water surface.


They are known as amphibious plants – plants which can adapt to long dry periods above water when the water level in rivers and streams drops. They actually make good use of the time with the sun shining on the damp, nutritious soil which once was a river bed, gathering strength for the underwater existence which will follow when the rainy season returns.


The length of time the plants spend above and below water can vary considerably, but the pattern is always the same. Many plants transform in order to take the greatest possible advantage of conditions in the open air. Some develop completely new leaf shapes and colours, so that they can make the best of the light. Many of them flower and seed. Most of them develop new side shoots, which not only ensure further propagation, but also that a greater reserve of nu­trition is built up for the time under water.


Plants with improved adaptability

Some people claim that all aquarium plants should be cultivated under water. But at Tropica we have discovered that plants that are amphibious in the wild adapt more quickly and easily to conditions in an aquarium if they are cultivated above water.


At Tropica we simulate the conditions prevailing in the tropical dry season throughout the growth of the plant. Only the roots are under water - planted in mineral wool in pots. The temperature and humidity in the greenhouses are controlled electronically so the climate is identical to that of a tropical rain forest, and powerful artificial light is provided above our growing tables to compensate for the short daylight hours in Denmark from September to March. The plants gather their strength and energy prior to spending a period under water just as they do in the wild. The light conditions, water hardness, pH value and EC value are rarely identical from one aquarium to the next. But a Tropica plant cultivated in emerse conditions always has the reserves and surplus energy needed to develop new leaves capable of flourishing in its new environment. If the same plant is cultivated under water it adapts to the water conditions prevailing in the nursery. It does not build up special reserves because it is already under water. So it finds it harder to adapt to a new aquatic environment. Some plants (e.g. Egeria, Cabomba and Vallisneria) are pure water plants. They are only found in the wild growing under water, so naturally Tropica cultivates these plants submersed in large tanks.

About Tropica's plant pipeline

New plants can either be completely new plants discovered in their natural surroundings or familiar plants with improved properties compared to earlier varieties.


We all dream of finding a completely new, unique plant - such as a blue Anubias - but it is equally important for us to produce and supply plants that offer the aquarist the greatest possible pleasure. And we continually do so by increasing our knowledge of plants by going on expeditions, performing tests, and maintaining contact with aquarists all over the world.


Three or four times a year, Tropica goes exploring for new plants - sometimes to exotic locations such as chalky, crystal-clear springs in South America, or murky, muddy ponds in Southeast Asia, and sometimes to extensive collections of aquatic plants, nurseries, and meetings with aquarists throughout the world. Every day, we receive inquiries about specific plants from aquarists. But they also show us plants that we can't recognise immediately, and this can also be an important source of news for us.


We have defined the characteristics that we consider most important in evaluating the suitability of plants for aquariums, and those of the greatest interest to aquarists, in our product development department. Practicability is one of the most important considerations, which primarily involves how easy the plant is to cultivate for the aquarist, options in the aquarium, and not least how well the plant stands up on its way from production to the aquarist.

Recognisability is another important characteristic involving the plant's shape and/or colour. But specific plants must also differentiate themselves from the rest of the range - and not be just another Echinodorus with red spots. Suitability, uniformity, and stability in production are also necessary because it is little use if the plant can become really attractive in an aquarium if we are unable to produce and market it. Taken as a whole, we call these parameters the plant's news value. As an example we can mention Microsorum pteropus 'Windeløv', which almost all aquarists have and, not least, can recognise when they find it here and there. Pogostemon helferi is newer in aquariums, but is also a plant that many people recognise. It thrives under almost all conditions and adorns any aquarium.


New plants with the same news value as Microsorum pteropus 'Windeløv' and Pogostemon helferi are few and far between, but we make intensive efforts to produce similar new plants. We use a pipeline model (see figure below) for this purpose. The goal is to produce a number of new plants every year and, due to many years' experience, we know that only a small percentage of the plants that enter our pipeline can become new aquarium plants as such. Our pipeline is divided into three phases (A, B and C). Phase C is a major flow of plants - the goal is a hundred a year or more. During phase C we propagate the plants, try some out in aquariums containing other plants, and accumulate knowledge about them if they are already familiar aquarium plants. If we feel the plant is interesting, it goes on to phase B, during which it is tested under different physical and chemical conditions (e.g. light, CO2, nutrition, etc.), and we get help from test aquarists. Such plants are also propagated in our laboratory or in another way during phase B, and samples are tested in production. For a plant to go from phase B to phase A, it must meet all of our requirements regarding news value. Phase A is sales maturation - which is where we consider all the knowledge we have generated and turn it into information for distributors and aquarists. But this is also the phase where it is thumbs down to more than half of the plants that have reached this phase, usually due to a lack of suitability. We want to be certain that the plants that pass through the needle's eye and are presented on the market are plants that will delight aquarists.

About Tropica's founder

Mr. Holger Windeløv, founder of Tropica Aquarium Plants, started as a fish tank hobbyist who became increasingly interested in growing aquatic plants for his own use and for fellow hobbyists.


He then started to develop greenhouse facilities and sell the plants he produced, creating the company named Tropica Aquarium Plants in 1970.

Every year since then, Holger Windeløv has been travelling to explore for new plants - sometimes to exotic locations such as chalky, crystal-clear springs in South America, or murky, muddy ponds in Southeast Asia, and sometimes to extensive collections of aquatic plants, nurseries, and meetings with aquarists throughout the world.


In 2004, the company was sold to JPS Clemens, due to a generational change and the new owners established a new nursery garden in 2007 as the base of a long-term strategy.


Tropica Aquarium Plants aims to increase the joy and experience of having an aquarium as a hobby. The company develops, produces and sells aquarium plants, fertiliser and aquarium equipment.



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