San Juan, Puerto Rico
Plantas Tropicales began its business in the 1970’s as a plant shop and a greenhouse. Gladys Cruz, founder and current owner, narrates that her father was a farmer of a variety of root vegetables in Naranjito, and she learned from his a passion for plants, ferns and other trees. Along with her husband, Fernando Castillo Barahona, Gladys decided to build greenhouses in the towns of Dorado, Naranjito and Aibonito for commercial distribution and retail sales of ornamental plants. At present, the family agribusiness has farms located in Aibonito and Cupey exceeding 20 acres.
By the 1980’s, Plantas Tropicales was distributing ferns to a vast majority of supermarkets in the San Juan metropolitan area, including Pueblo and Grande, adding Walmart shortly thereafter to its client list. Their stunning ornamental and exotic tropical plants have also been a part of noteworthy hotels and building construction projects throughout the Island. They have continued to expand their inventory thanks to commercial agreements with other growers to who they purchase their plants for wholesale and retail sales at their business, adding variety and volume. As the business continued to evolve, they added a flower shop, to complement the sale of ornamental and exotic plants.
Their son, Edgardo Castillo, represents the second generation of the family, joining the agribusiness project since 1998 as part of the management team at Plantas Tropicales. A graduate of University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, in Agrarian Economics, Edgardo had always envisioned being part of the family business team. At present, he oversees and manages all operations of Plantas Tropicales in Cupey’s facilities.
“Puerto Rico Farm Credit has been a great ally of Plantas Tropicales of Puerto Rico since we started the business in 1970," said Gladys, adding that the banking institution has been a key factor in facilitating business growth and development, enabling the business to innovate with new products and services for the wholesale and retail market.
According to Plantas Tropicales of Puerto Rico, agriculture on the Island is experimenting an upswing, a new bloom stating that today “modern farmers are turning to greenhouses to produce in reduced spaces and under controlled environments. This allows them to control plagues and access new technologies for better and more precise farming and crops”. Gladys Cruz added that “people are choosing fresh local produce and that is very positive for our agriculture." Gladys views her role as an integrator, bringing tropical plants to home and business environments and adding nature to beautify ambiances whenever and wherever it is possible."