Louis van Houtte was the proprietor of the largest nursery of its time on the continent. At the height of European orchid mania in 1845 he despatched plant collectors to the Americas to search for orchids and other exotic plants. Van Houtte produced plants for European conservatories and royalty. By the 1870s van Houtte's nursery was flourishing, covering 14 hectares and comprising 50 greenhouses. Van Houute founded several high quality botanical periodicals to advertise the plants he sold. Many of the beautiful prints were created by his own printing office in the middle of the gardens, the Horto van Houtteano. His illustrations of plants are especially notable for the craftsmanship of the Belgian lithographers Severeyns, Stroobant and De Pannemaker, who had mastered the art of color printing from stone.