Episode 73: Dutch houseplant adventures part two

A forest of cacti and Ubink Nursery in the Netherlands. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

A forest of cacti and Ubink Nursery in the Netherlands. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

It has long been my dream to visit the Netherlands, which is the centre of the ornamental plant world, in Europe at least. So it was a complete treat to visit three Dutch nurseries specialising in houseplants when I travelled to Holland as a guest of The Joy of Plants.

Last week’s episode covered my trip to the Flora Holland show, and this week I’m talking about the plants I saw at the three nurseries we visited the following day. They were Amstel BV, which specialises in Ficus and other tropicals; Ubink cactus and succulent nursery, and Vireo, which produces many types of houseplant but is particularly known for its English ivy.

James Wong was there too so we got to geek out over houseplants together - fun! I’ll further update these show notes with a list of plants mentioned as soon as possible, but in the meantime if you have any queries, let me know by leaving a comment below.

  • Amstel BV was packed full of fascinating Ficus - see below for some images (I am hoping I have labelled them right!), plus some very nice Chinese evergreens I had never seen in the UK. Owner Hans gets many of his plants from a supplier in Costa Rica: I particularly liked the dramatic foliage of Philodendron selloum ‘Gold’.

  • He had two pots of Sansevieria ‘Bantel’s Sensation’ but wasn’t producing this plant for the open market, it seems - my search for a specimen continues!

  • Ubink was full of wonderful cacti: especially the benches of mutations that had been set aside for possible future breeding (see the picture below for a taster…).

  • The colourful moon cacti were curious and clearly very popular with customers: it was fascinating to discover how they are ‘made’ in Korea. Since my visit I found this article about the moon cactus and its association with Korea. The colourful globe on the top is a mutant of a species called Gymnocalycium mihanovichii - grafting these chlorophyll-free mutants to a rootstock such as Hylocereus allows them to survive.

  • Gert Ubink is trying to breed, among other things, smaller Agaves to fit in modern homes, spineless cacti and variegated cacti. He has produced a lovely new Aeonium called ‘Sunrise’ and is working on a stink-free Stapelia.

The benches for possible new cultivars at Ubink nursery… feat your eyes! Photograph: Jane Perrone

The benches for possible new cultivars at Ubink nursery… feat your eyes! Photograph: Jane Perrone


New podcast artwork: what do you think?

What do you think of my new logo? It’s designed by Jacqueline Colley, with some input from my patrons along the way. I hope it encapsulates the essence of the show, and looks stunning too.

I am hoping to be able to offer you some merch in time for Christmas - let me know if you have any thoughts on the kinds of things you’d like to see plastered with the new OTL logo! Patrons will be receiving a seasonal greeting which features the new logo, so if you donate to the podcast on Patreon and you’ve provided your postal address, look out for your delivery in the run-up to Christmas. (If you’re looking for planty presents for friends, family and yourself, do check out my Christmas gift guide, too.)

Question of the week

Fatma wanted suggestions for plants for her shady apartment with poor ventilation… I suggested Aspidistras, Scheffleras, Dracaenas and the ponytail palm as good options. Watch out for an upcoming episode all about whether - and how - houseplants can improve air quality in our homes!

Want to ask me a question? Tweet @janeperrone, leave a message on my Facebook page or email ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com.

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This week's show featured Roll Jordan Roll by the Joy Drops, An Instrument the Boy Called Happy Day Gokarna by Samuel Corwin and Overthrown by Josh Woodward, all licensed under Creative Commons.