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Houseplant prices can range from a humble two figures to more than a million. Yes, a million. But why are some houseplants so expensive?
Factors such as rarity, beauty, breeding, and propagation all potentially play a role.
Gardening activities have become increasingly popular in recent decades with the younger generations, and there has been a "plant boom" of late. The desire to own rare and attractive species is also, consequently, rising.
As an example, to meet recent demand, cuttings of variegated monstera plants are selling for three-figure prices in Australia, Canada, and the United States.
The millennial generation is not the first to start such a movement. In the early 1600s, the “it” plant of the time was the tulip. “Tulip Mania” caused the price of tulips to explode, selling for up to 5,700 guilders.
Following this trend, the next flower of a century became the orchid. Wealthy Victorians loved orchids so much that their obsession became known as “orchidelirum.”
As we look closer at the boom of the 21st century, here are six of the most expensive houseplants.
Mature Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree ($80 to $400)
Able to grow nearly 50 feet in tropical rainforests, the fiddle leaf fig (ficus lyrata) grows up to 10 feet in proper indoor conditions. Its bold foliage is beloved by many interior designers, and it has become the "it" plant of the last decade. The demand has pushed the price up.
Fiddle leaf plants are especially sensitive to air quality. They do not like dry air or drafts, nor do they respond well to too or not enough sun, the list goes on.
Purchasing a mature tree is a big commitment. While it may be easier for a professional to grow such a large fiddle leaf fig, owning one will be a challenge unless you are aware of how to care for it. Consider buying a humidifier for this new addition to your home interior.
Variegated Monstera ($700 to $5000)
Variegated Monstera or 'Swiss cheese plant', such as the M. deliciosa pictured above can sell for up to $5000. A rare M. adansonii has sold for $700, and M. aurea sold for $3,726 on the popular auction site Trade Me.
Beloved in New Zealand and other parts of the world, the Variegated Monstera is currently one of the most popular plants. The plant's slow propagation rate, however, makes it very rare.
Featured by countless social media influencers, plant bloggers, and vloggers, this plant comes in many shapes and shades. Normal green varieties sell for just $20 at garden centers, while the prices of variegated varieties are climbing.
Hoya carnosa 'compacta' ($40 to $6500)
Another plant with unique variegation, a Hoya carnosa compacta ‘Hindu Rope’ became the most expensive houseplant ever sold on Trade Me in June 2020. The site’s member sold it for $6500. This established plant had a cream/yellow variegation on the inside of the leaf.
If you decide you must have a Hoya, other varieties that are not quite so expensive.
Philodendron Minima ($50 to $8,150)
The common name for the tropical Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is Philodendron Minima. It is also known as ‘Mini Monstera’ or ‘Piccolo.’
As New Zealand's passion for houseplants gows, an extremely rare variegated specimen sold in August 2020 for $8,150 on the country's largest trading site Trade Me.
What makes this sale even more surprising is that the small minima had only four leaves. Sold modestly in a six-inch black plastic pot, the intrigue came about as a result of the description, which showcased the plant as "very rare" and "with stunning yellow variegation on every leaf."
Prices of P. lynamii and P. joepii are also increasing. While typical P. minima sell for $20 to $50, variegated varieties are much more expensive. Houseplant enthusiasts seek variation in spots, streaks, and blocks.
Shenzhen Nongke Orchid (up to $200,000)
The Shenzhen Nongke Orchid is completely human-made. For eight years, scientists worked painstakingly to cultivate this flower. Plant lovers now exercise a similar level of patience when growing this orchid, as it can take between four to five years to bloom.
The blooms, at least, dazzle the senses with a particular aesthetic and fragrance, ones a few will ever get to experience. Precious specimens are auctioned off for up to $200,000.
Old Pine Bonsaii ($50 to $1.3M)
Bonsai trees catch the eye of plant lovers looking for a unique indoor specimen. The most expensive Bonsai is a centuries-old White Pine, which sold for 100,000,000 yen (about $1.3M) at the 11th Asia-Pacific Bonsai and Suiseki Convention & Exhibition in Takamatsu, Kagawa, Japan.
Curious to explore growing options for your own indoor space? Find the best houseplants for your apartment here.
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