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Incubation Programme

Introducing Class 2: Mama Botanica

Incubation Programme

Words by Kelsey Lee Jones

Photos by Let it Grow

Startup stories inspire us. So we’re getting to know all about our Incubation Programme entrepreneurs in a weekly series.  

Iris van Vliet, once a foster mum for homeless plants, grew her love and knowledge and evolved into Mama Botanica herself. If you’re in with the online plant community and familiar with the #UrbanJungle trend, it’s likely you’ve seen her face already. Mama’s channels (Instagram/Youtube) are sanctuaries for wannabe green fingers and jungle dreamers, as she offers her beautiful approach and expert tips for plant care at home. The platform moves along with a little help from Bow Evers (her handy boyfriend), who she has also infected with her passion for plants. We got a moment with them both to ask a few questions.

What’s the Mama Botanica vision?

We’re on a mission to inspire the internet generation to develop their Super Green Fingers. We want to bring people closer to nature and by having plants at home, you’ll also notice nature outside more. Plants really transform the way you experience your living environment, they don’t just look good, they’ll make you feel less stressed and more focused. However, for this to work we need to make sure people don’t get freaked by a dying plant, they need to gather the knowledge on how to take care of their green roommates. And that’s where we come in.

When did you discover your ‘Super Green Fingers’, Mama?

I’ve been surrounded by plants since my birth, my dad had an urban jungle (avant la lettre!); from him, I learned to love and care for things that grow. I started to grow my own green fingers when I moved out but didn’t fully develop them until I started Mama Botanica with a plant shelter – gathering plants I found discarded by the trash to give them new life. During that time I learned so much, mostly by searching the internet and reading vintage books on plants. They’re the best! I started with Instagram to share my knowledge about plant care and to record the development of the plants. Now all the plants from the shelter have found new homes and our focus is on giving workshops and share my knowledge through social media, so plants won’t be thrown away anymore.

“We’re on a mission to inspire the internet generation to develop their Super Green Fingers”.

Who is your biggest audience and how did you grow such a big following (17k+ on Instagram)?

I just love the Instagram community. I started using Instagram when I founded the plant shelter, two years ago. From then it has developed to an account which shows the plants in my own home. I try to post something every day and make it one of my goals to engage people by sharing content they can really use. From care tips to mindfulness and inspiration on how to put even more plants in your home. I recently started my YouTube channel where I share informative videos with subjects from in-depth care tips for specific plants or tutorials on how to make cuttings.

What kind of offline workshops are you offering?

Right now I have a workshop on basic plant care, an evening full of information on how to take care of your plants. It’s enjoyed by the beginners as well as those who are a bit more advanced and already have a plant family. People are so enthusiastic, I love helping them grow their confidence in taking care of plants. In spring 2018 I will start a new workshop series where you learn how to take cuttings from all sorts of plants. People will go home with a lot of baby plants.

We’re curious, how many plants do you have at home?

Haha, so many! There was a time recently when I had two homes to fill with plants, both mine and Bow’s, as we weren’t living together yet. Now we’ve merged that into one and it’s very crowded. We’re searching for new homes for some and right now we’re on 100 plants – in our 50 m² home – crazy!


“We’re on 100 plants - in our 50m² home - crazy!”

Do you have any favourite green friends?

This question is too hard, there are so many – I can’t pick just one. I have everything from desert plants to jungle dwellers. I love them all, though my heart does go out to tropical plants; big leaves, deep green colours, hanging, climbing or standing; they’re all awesome. I have a big love for the Philodendron family, Monstera deliciosa, Monstera adansonii… Two Philodendron species I was dreaming about recently found a way to my home – the Monstera minima (the tiny sisters of the Monstera Deliciosa) and the Philodendron hastatum which as silvery leaves in a unique form. 

So what’s next and how will the Incubation Programme help take you there?

World domination, plant domination. Our ultimate goal is to spread more plant love. We’re convinced that plants add something vital to our lives, makes us more conscious of the world we live in, and caring for them makes us better people. Already we see plants bringing people together; either by swapping cuttings or sharing care tips. We want to support the growth of this movement and be part of it. We love how Let it Grow has helped us get in touch with growers, we like to learn about how they are collecting new species and growing plants with the environment in mind.


Each week we’ll be introducing someone new from our Incubation Programme. Make sure to check back and follow the journey.

Follow the journey of our 2017/18 Incubation Programme