RHS Master Grower: Dibleys Nursery

Houseplants are hugely trendy right now and our Cardiff Master Grower was flying the flag for British-grown indoor plants


The resurgence of the houseplant

The Victorians were the original houseplant hunters – the purveyors of parlour palms and orchid collections, the masters of the orangery and the fernery. Back in the day, no home was complete without greenery of some description, from aspidistras to rubber plants, the list was endless.

Then, throughout the 80s and 90s, the houseplant fell out of favour as we sought clean lines and minimal homes, its popularity coming  to an untimely end through the noughties, being labelled as dowdy and old-fashioned. However, that has all now changed...Instagram, selfies and a desire to green up our grey spaces has seen a resurgence in the need for humble houseplant in our homes, as even the most minimal of millennials, from Haul-Girls to Hipsters, have begun using greenery and flowers to jazz-up their surroundings.

We're entering a boom time for houseplants with varieties for every room in the house, and spearheading this revival is Dibleys Nursery. A family business growing some of the best plants to brighten your home, including African violets, coleus, tradescantias, and painted-leaf begonias, Dibleys have been chosen as our Master Grower for RHS Flower Show Cardiff. The nursery specialises in Streptocarpus – the Cape primrose – a native to South Africa, with masses of velvet-textured flowers on long stems in a vibrant array of colours.

Kohleria "Sunrise"
Lynne Dibley says that the desire for house plants is increasing:

"People are realising that you don't need a garden to enjoy plants - having houseplants creates a healthier environment"

Best of the bunch - Lynne's top five plants

Larger flowers and unusual markings make this variety stand out - deep purple stippling over a white background create an eye catching bloom. A very free flowering variety, and runner up in the Chelsea Plant of the Year 2015

Sky blue flowers with a tracery of purple veins are profusely produced on a plant which will bloom continuously for over 8 months of the year.

A new style of begonia with large silver/pink foliage produced on a quick growing plant reaching to 50-60cm in one season. A freely branching habit helps this begonia form a good shape with lots of colourful foliage which is followed by deep pink flowers in late summer.

This is an all-year flowering variety with blue veined, white flowers. A medium sized plant with narrow leaves with each flower stem having 7-13 blooms - compact enough for the windowsill.

A bi-colour streptocarpus, the yellow lower lobes contrasting beautifully with the baby-blue upper lobes. The short stems and leaves are typical of this plant, and it was the winner at the Chelsea Plant of the Year 2010.

About Dibleys - our Cardiff Master Grower

Streptocarpus "Katie"
Rex Dibley started his mail order nursery back in 1977, and today Dibleys supply more than 250 garden centres across the whole UK with their houseplants and employ 10 permanent full-time members of staff. The whole family are very much part of the business, with Rex’s son Gareth joining the business in 1984 and daughter Lynne becoming part of the team in 1989.

The nursery holds three National Collections – Streptocarpus, Saintpaulia and Petrocosmea – and have received more than 180 RHS Gold medals, including 28 Chelsea Gold medals over the last 29 years. Since 1979 Dibleys has bred and introduced more than 90 new streptocarpus, of which, 18 have held the Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Now very much part of the flower show circuit, they went to their first RHS show in 1987. Having initially attended the Royal Welsh Show, Shrewsbury and Southport for the first few years, both Lynne and Gareth had the chance as children to explore the shows and talk to other nursery people - a great grounding for the future Master Growers.

Gareth DibleyLynne Dibley

Dibleys Master Grower potted history

  • 1988 received a Gold medal at their first RHS Chelsea Flower Show

  • 1994, 2003, 2007 and 2010 received the RHS Anthony Huxley Award

  • 2000 introduced Streptocarpus ‘Crystal Ice’ AGM which was the first all-year flowering streptocarpus

  • 2007 Rex Dibley received the RHS Veitch Memorial Medal

  • 2010 won the inaugural Chelsea Plant of the Year with Streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue’

  • 2016 Lynne Dibley received the RHS Cory Cup for her hybridisation programme

  • 2017 a series of begonias which included Dibleys new hybrids won the Greenhouse Growers – Editor’s Choice Award in the USA

  • 2017 Begonia ‘Silver Spirit’ was in the top 20 of RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year

Lynne's particular passion is for the beautiful streptocarpus. Some varieties will flower for up to ten months and they do well in centrally heated rooms and slight shade which makes them ideal houseplants. Dibleys sells half a million streptocarpus a year, either by mail order or through garden centres, and Lynne warns:

"They're addictive. Once you have one and it flowers well, you'll want lots more."

More information

Read more about the Master Grower

Watch our streptocarpus clip

Choosing the best houseplants

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.