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So What is a Rare Houseplant?

Whether you’re new or old to the house plant community, one thing is unmistakable; It. Is. BOOMING. Whether you are into all things variegated, the velvety goodness of anthuriums, or the strange world of philodendrons, there’s no doubt that the houseplant craze on Instagram is exploding. It’s almost impossible these days to browse plants on the popular social media platform without seeing tags like #monsteramonday or #philodendronfriday. Plants are trending. And not just any plants, rare houseplants.

So what is a rare houseplant? Let’s start with the word itself. Merriam Webster defines “rare” as

  1. seldom occuring or found: UNCOMMON.
  2.  a. marked by unusual quality, merit or appeal: DISTINCTIVE.
    • b.superlative or extreme of its kind

In a world of limited editions and special releases, the house plant craze is in the midst of its “gotta catch em all” phase. Let’s face it, as millennials; we love exclusive things. In a world of student debt, global warming, and political calamity, having something special can make all the difference in an otherwise bleak world.

Image from Bloomscape

Especially amid the global pandemic that is Coronavirus, houseplants offer an escape. Plants are a way to beautify your space, get in touch with nature, and best of all, they give you something to do. We have an inner need to care for something, and house plants offer that outlet. Whether you see it as a new hobby or a lifestyle, the houseplant trend is here to stay.

So back to the rarity of these green babies. Let’s use a plant unicorn as an example; the variegated monstera. You have probably seen or heard of the “split-leaf philodendron” or even the “swiss cheese plant.” Visually appealing and easy to care for, the Monstera Deliciosa is a tropical species of the Araceae family. A staple in any houseplant collection.

So sometimes, these plants can have a DNA mutation in its chlorophyll that results in variegation. What does that mean? Well, it means that beautiful marbled patterns of white, cream or yellow present themselves throughout the leaf and stem of the plant. It is creating the most beautiful and stunning showpiece that is sure to be the highlight of any collection. Plant lovers are searching far and wide for these plants or even just pieces of these plants.

Cuttings of variegated monsteras can be found on popular sites like eBay and Etsy, ranging from $100 – $300 per cutting. To be clear, that is an unrooted, leaf-cutting that can then be rooted into a full-blown plant specimen. All you need is a node in a little bit of hope, and you too can have your very own variegated monstera (in about six months to a year).

Image from Variegata777 on Etsy

Fully rooted variegated monsteras range in prices from $400 to $1500, depending on the size, variegation, and maturity of the plant. That is if you can even find one. These specimens are being chopped up and sold far and wide across the internet. Not to mention, it’s not necessarily easy propagating a plant to full maturity. So having a fully rooted gorgeous mature plant is very rare indeed.

This is a very brief overview of some of the trends in the house plant world. It does not even begin to cover the different types of variegated monsteras, from albo borsigianas to aureas, nor does it even begin to explain the differing rarities of large form and small form versions of the plant. From “half-moon” leaves to the controversial “mint” variegation, there is just a lot going on in the world of variegated monsteras. And of course, the ultimate unicorn of the variegated monstera adansonii. The current must-have plant for the most serious of collectors.

So what is a rare house plant? A house plant that everyone wants and isn’t readily available. A plant that is limited, special, and often, one of a kind. A plant that you probably spent an embarrassingly amount of money on, but you just had to have.

In the plant world, supply is low, and demand is high. This demand is only rising with changing trends in greener lifestyles, home décor, and the effects of the Coronavirus quarantine. More people are interested in house plants than ever. And the social media presence of houseplants on Instagram is exploding. Rare houseplants are trending.