Product Specification

Product group code: 20000000
House plants

May 2024
This product specification applies to all members of the Dutch Flower Auction Association (VBN) and Rhein-Maas. This publication or any part therein may not be made public or reproduced in any form, by print, photocopy, microfilm or any other means, without first obtaining written permission from the publisher (The Dutch Flower Auction Association).

The quality criteria listed below apply to all species, varieties and cultivars that are supplied as plants intended for direct use by the consumer and are supplied and traded at auctions belonging to the Association of Dutch Flower Auctions (VBN) and the Rhein-Maas Auction.

All products traded at the auctions are intended exclusively for decorative purposes and are not intended for internal consumption unless otherwise expressly mentioned on the product. Incorrect application, consumption, contact with and/or sensitivity to the products can lead to harmful consequences for humans and/or animals.

These regulations have arisen in response to requirements regarding quality, grading, packing and descriptions. These requirements can only be diverged from if this is expressly agreed between the grower and buyer and if this agreement has been drawn up by the intermediary agency of a VBN auction. All products traded through the VBN auctions, without there being a specific agreement between grower and buyer, should meet the minimum requirements set out below.
If the products do not meet these requirements, they will not be traded and, where necessary, destroyed.

Minimum Requirements for Trade
External Quality
Minimum Quality General

Plants that do not meet this requirement will not be traded.

Plants that do not meet this requirement will be destroyed.

Maturity General
Edible Products

The rules given below apply to products that are suitable for consumption at the time of trading.


         Potentially edible products that are traded as ‘not for consumption’ 

Legal Provisions

If products do not meet these requirements, they will not be traded.

*Auction Rhein-Maas does not have the obligation that every plant from pot sizes >10 cm must be accompanied by a plant passport (clock supply and direct trade).

Quality and Grading Criteria
Quality and Grading Criteria
Quality and Grading Criteria per Batch

Lots supplied to the auction are subject to the following requirements (in order to be traded as A1):

Requirements and Quality Comments
When a lot diverges from one or more of the stated requirements, the lot in question can be auctioned with a quality remark (and associated quality code). The seriousness of the deviation determines if the lot is traded without a quality remark, a minor quality remark or a major quality remark. A quality remark is awarded on the basis of the following overview.

Overview 1 quality remarks by divergence from the requirements

*for house plants the requirement regarding the presence of animal and/or plant parasites is ‘visually free’ instead of ‘less than 5%’.
**for house plants the requirement regarding the presence of animal and/or plant parasites is ‘1% or more’ instead of ‘5% or more’.

Depending on the product, the following additional requirements apply for grading plants on pot, plant height, plant diameter, tendril length, maturity, thickness or other features.
Additional Grading Requirements per Batch General
Grading by Pot Size

The following rules apply to the measurement of pot size:

Overview 1 diameter measurement

Overview 2 grading on pot size

Grading by Plant Height

Grading is in categories:

Height grading is given during trading using  quality code S02, in conformance with overview 3. The height of the shortest plant in the lot, rounded down, is given.

Overview 3 grading on plant height

Grading by Plant Diameter

Grading in categories:

Diameter grading is given during trading using quality code S04, in conformance with overview 4. The plant diameter of the narrowest plant in the lot, rounded down, is given.

Overview 4 grading on plant diameter

Grading by Tendril Length

Grading in categories:

Tendril length is given during trading using grading code S32, in conformance with overview 5. 

Overview 5 grading on Tendril length

Grading by Maturity

Grading in categories where two successive maturity stages in a category may occur (in conformance with the maturity stage photos).

Table 1 grading on maturity

Grading by thickness
Graded in four categories in conformance with the thickness grading photos. Thickness grading is given during trading using quality code S08.
Grading by another Characteristic
Graded in categories on the number of flowers, buds, flower stalks, shoots/plants per pot, stems, etc., depending on the product. Grading is given during trading using one of the applicable quality codes.
Requirements for Mixed Lots
Quality Groups Based on Inspection Codes
Inspection Codes

Plants can be traded in three quality groups (A1, A2 and B1) depending on the extent to which they meet the quality and grading requirements. The extent to which the lot does not meet the quality and grading requirements is expressed by negative quality remarks applied to the lot. The quality remarks are translated in the corresponding negative quality codes (quality codes K01 and K02), in conformance with the following principle:

Division into Quality Groups
The quality codes determine in which quality group the lot is to be traded, in accordance with the following framework:

Packing Requirements
Packing Requirements General
Loading General
The free space in the trolley between the product and the tray above should be at least 5 cm.
Indentification Requirements
Consignment Note

Every trolley should be provided with a fully and correctly completed delivery form, which states as a minimum the following details of the grower:

Lot Photo

It is mandatory to accompany lots with a representative lot photo.

Genetically Modified Products

Genetically modified products should be identified with the correct citation in the product information.

Recommendations General
A plant's adjustment to a changed climate and other living conditions (after transport from the original environment/habitat).
Bulb size
The size/circumference of the bulb, expressed in cm and rounded down. The measurement unit is the sieve measurement.
Climbing plant
Cultural form where the tendrils climb (attach themselves or are tied to support material).
One pot containing several individual plants, stems and/or shoots brought together.
Damaged leaf-, flower or plant parts resulting from jolting, bruising, pinching, cutting, etc.
Aberrant colouring in flower and/or leaf resulting from a shortage of nutrients.
Damage to plants parts caused by animal and/or plant parasites.
The products are unsuitable for trading, are rejected and then destroyed by the auction.
Do not trade
The product does not meet the requirements for trade. Depending on the situation, the supplier is given the opportunity to improve the product to such a degree that it can still be traded, or the product is destroyed.
Dying off plant parts
Dead cells of root, stem, fruit, flower or leaf that affect the horticultural or practical value of the product.
Edible plants
Edible plants or plant parts that can be eaten (suitable for consumption). For fruit-bearing plants, this applies to plants with fruits that change colour.
Firm in the pot
Condition of the plant, where it stands in the pot in such a way that stability of the plant is guaranteed.
Flower bud/flower umbel
Formation of an inflorescence.
Flower stalk
The presence of more than one flower or flower bud on a stem or stalk.
Garden plants
All species and cultivars of annual, biennial or perennial plants that are intended to be traded as final products through the VBN auctions with an actual use by the consumer for planting, replanting and/or application outdoors.
The appearance of newly formed, young roots.
Growth defects
Imperfections of plant parts that arise as a consequence of growth abnormalities during cultivation.
Hanging plant
Cultural form where the tendrils hang (over the edge of the pot).
The plant must be able to exist in climatic conditions reasonably expected in the sales chain.
House plants
All species and cultivars of annual, biennial or perennial plants that are intended to be traded as final products through the VBN auction with an expected use indoors in the consumer's home.
Leaf point
Dying-off of plant cells on the top of a leaf larger than 2 mm.
Separate leaf as part of a compound leaf.
Minimum moisture content requirement
Moisture content of the potting compost / substratum considered necessary for the plant to endure the selling phase.
All organisms which are harmful to the cut flower and/or plant, such as insects, mildew/fungus, bacteria, viruses, etc.
All non-woody and winterhardy species and cultivars living more than one year that are supplied as root ball plant, pot plant or container plant and intended to be traded as final products (through the VBN auctions) with an apparent use by the consumer for planting, replanting and/or application outdoors.
Plant diameter
The diameter of a free-standing plant is measured, without sleeve or pot, on the narrowest side of the plant from leaf tip to leaf tip. The diameter of the smallest plant in the lot determines the diameter specified, and is rounded down.
Plant height
The plant height of a free-standing plant is measured from its highest point, without sleeve, and includes the pot. The measured height is rounded down to whole cm. In principle, the smallest plant in the lot determines the height specified. Support material is not included in the measurement. An exception is made for plants that use a moss stick support and the plant is lower than the stick. For these plants the length/height of the support material is the measured height. Climbing plants are measured from the bottom of their pot to the top of their support material. Tendrils that extend above the support material are not included.
Plant weight
The plant weight is the weight of the plant and pot with contents (soil/substrate).
Pot colour
Colour of the pot. For plants with an outer pot, the pot colour is the colour of the outer pot.
Pot size
The pot size specifies the size of the cultivation pot, even when used with an outer pot. The upper diameter of the pot is measured from the outer edge and expressed in cm. Half-cm are rounded down. With Arrangements, the diameter or the maximum width of the Arrangement to be supplied is measured. In the case of a compressed root ball, the quality code 002 should be used.
Pot/plant ratio
A good pot/plant ratio is considered to be one that gives sufficient stability, has a sufficient food buffer and a good ornamental value.
Potted flower bulb
All bulbs specifically grown to produce flowers and that have been placed in a pot and intended to be traded as a flowering house plant.
Product information
The correct description of the product and the right use and care advice for consumers attached to each plant or pot by means of a stick-in or hanging label, a (printed) sleeve or a (printed) pot. Just a QR code is not enough.
Product specifications
This contains the rules that products must be met in order to be traded at the VBN auctions. Product specifications consist of a general specification and a product-specific appendix for each crop or crop group. There are supportive images to show stages of maturity or thickness. The product specifications are listed on
Quality codes
Quality codes specify certain lot characteristics. It could be a grading code, e.g. S05 Maturity stage. There are also commercial characteristics such as K07 Other supplier's information. The characteristics with their affiliated codes can be found on Each product code specifies which quality remarks/quality codes are required and/or advised and in which order the grading codes should be supplied.
Residue and/or contaminants
Residue from crop protection agents and/or lime residue and/or other deposits on flower- and leaf parts.
Root through
Condition of the root ball, where living roots are visible on the outside of the root ball.
The presence of young, recently formed roots.
Rooted through
Condition of the root ball, where the roots have grown through the pot and are (have been) rooted in the ground.
A stem that grows from the heart of the plant and along the ground, on which new plants can grow.
Signs of dying off
The release of pollen from the flower and/or the wilting of flower parts.
Special forms
Another plant form than normally expected resulting from a specific and purposeful cultivation method deliberately and recognisably chosen by the grower.
A well-staked plant is supported in such a way that its shape retains at least 90% of the plant’s height.
The supports of the plant which prevent breakage and help the plant keep its shape.
Stem with single umbel
Non-bifurcated plants with an inflorescence.
Tendril length
The length of the shoots (the tendrils) of hanging or climbing plants, determined by measuring the tendril of the growing top to the edge of the pot. The plant with the shortest shoot length determines the length to be specified.
Transport height
Transport height is defined as the height from the underside of the pot or box or tray to the highest point. The highest point can be the top of the highest plant or the highest point of the packaging in which it is transported if this is higher than the tallest plant. Expressed in cm and rounded up.
Visually free of parasites
The whole cutflower and/or plant, as far as can be perceived by the eye, has no animal and/or plant parasites. This means without shaking or beating the cutflower or plant.
Well protected
The plant’s protection ensures the plant is not damaged during transport.