As a group who value nature, plant people tend to be conscious of their environmental footprint. The way houseplants are sourced, grown and distributed around the globe isn’t always transparent. And the more intermediary bodies a plant seller has between sourcing and selling plants, the harder it is to know how responsibly they’ve been grown.
The vast majority of UK houseplants come via the Netherlands. Every grower has different growing processes, ethics and international partners. As growers have different specialisms, and availability fluctuates widely, all plants sellers rely on a high number of grow houses throughout the year (we're talking hundreds).
The likelihood of market sellers having any idea where their plants come from is slim. And the likelihood of their having time to vet each one is even slimmer: most UK sellers are several times removed from Dutch growers, who are themselves removed from warmer countries where plants can reach maturity naturally.
This makes guaranteeing the sustainability of all plants unlikely, if not quite impossible. So, if a UK vendor insists on their environmental credentials, take it with a pinch of salt…
Bloombox Club deals directly with growers, wherever possible. Every few months, the team ventures to Holland and finds out where your plants are coming from and what processes the grow house are using.
We’d like to tell you about some of our wonderful growers, so you can be as informed as possible when it comes to making good choices.
If you’re buying from our 2020 succulent collection, you can be confident that you’re buying plants of the highest quality, from an ethical source.
Ovata have been solely devoted to the propagation of succulents since 1987, though founder Hans Amerlaan had harboured a love for the sap-filled plants since the age of seven, some years earlier. They’re committed to quality and expertise, rejecting flashy new strains if their durability hasn’t been proven.
They passionately believe that investing in sustainable practices is good for their plants as well as for the environment. ‘Investing in sustainability means investing in the future,’ Hans says, whilst force-feeding us Aloe-Vera gel and insisting it's tasteless (it isn’t).
Ovata’s crowning achievement is their water-regeneration system. They have a ‘100% closed water system,’ which means they use no running water that hasn’t been collected and filtered with their in-house waterfall/good bacteria treatment process.
Another significant ecological initiative was cutting out all neonicotinoids, a pesticide responsible for the deaths of bees (we really don’t want bees to die). In fact, they use almost no pesticides and the very small amount they do use is on the inoffensive end of the scale.
The succulent growers emit no carbon dioxide as a result of their own processes. They previously used gas as a power source but have entirely replaced it with solar, and have been certified by numerous environmental bodies, including the MPS (who grade horticultural organisations in terms of their sustainability), Planet Proof and the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative 2020.
Ovata also use their expertise in innovative ways, to support causes they care about. For example, in 2012 they donated 1500 Aloe vera plants to communities in Uganda who had been directly affected by the LFA, the gorilla army whose signature had been to disfigure victims’ mouth and noses. From the original 1500, a whole field has been laid, for which Ovata supports the maintenance. The idea is that the sap can be harvested both to be sold and to be used by the community.
See the full list of Ovata succulents here.