The Most Expensive Houseplants You Can Buy Online in 2020, and Are They Worth the Hype?

Basic Witch

Who's paying $5000 on a houseplant? Not me.

But evidently, there are more people than you think that are willing to throw a few months' rent onto a plant.

According to The Guardian, a variegated minima house plant sold for NZ$8,150 (approx. USD 5544) in New Zealand in September, setting the record for the most expensive houseplant sold on the platform Trade Me. The plant's variegation is what drove that price into four figures. With its four small-to-medium sized leaves, it averages on $1386 per leaf.
The Minima sold. Photograph: Trade me/ @hurley88

Suppose you lightly browse on websites like the Facebook marketplace, Etsy, or Instagram Shops, with the right search phrase. In that case, you will find four-figure houseplants for sale. And sometimes, the price does not even represent the size. You might get something as small and sad as this Monstera Adansonii Mint for $1200.

Many plant sellers and nursery owners have been unfathomable how social media has created demands where supply is quite low. Driven by "plantfluencers", hashtags, and soothing unboxing videos, people can really become emotionally attached to a very specific rare plant.

With the hypes created by its insta-ubiquity, a small Pink Princess Philodendron's price hiked from around $90 to $150 in a single jump 2019-2020.
A Philodendron "Pink Princess"

Here are the some of the most expensive houseplants you can buy online in 2020, and some information for you to decide whether they are worth the hype.

1. Monstera Adansonii Variegata

The word "Mint" has been throwing around quite a lot around this variegation of Monstera Adansonii.

At first, this plant is a naturally occurring genetic mutation. Its juvenile form tends to be mostly green with white speckles. And as it matures, it tends to produce more photogenic half-moon leaves, a form of sectoral variegation.

Because of its rarity and demand, a single cutting could sell up to $1000 plus. A mature plant could sell up to $9000.
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However, there is another form of Monstera Adasonii Mint sharing the same name. But it is an Indonesian form that emerged quickly with large quantities. Some sources suggest that these Indonesian forms are chemically induced. A chemical called Colchicine is used to achieve this variegated effect.

According to Studies on Colchicine Induced Chromosome Doubling for Enhancement of Quality Traits in Ornamental Plants,

Colchicine is an important mutagen that works by preventing the microtubules formation and doubles the number of chromosomes. It is commonly used to develop polyploid plants and functions as a mitotic poison by producing many mutagenic effects on plants.

And such mutagenic effects include variegation.

I know the sound of "chemically induced mutation" is pretty ominous. But this kind of practice is not that uncommon in the plant industry. And this could have been less problematic if these Indonesian forms haven't been passed off as naturally occurred mutation to be sold at the same price range.

Know that in Indonesia, these "Monstera Adosonii Mint" are generally sold for less than $40.

My advice is, you can still get these Indonesian form of the Monstera Adansonii Mint. But make sure you pay a fraction of what you would pay for a naturally occurred Monstera Adansonii Variegata.

An easy way to tell them apart is that the Indonesian form will only produce leaves with faint marble variegations, even after its maturation. While the naturally occurring form of Adansonii Variegata can produce more pronounced sectoral variegations.
A chemically induced Monstera Adansonii "Mint"

Besides, ALWAYS ALWAYS ask to see the mother plant before you buy, and buy from a reputable seller!

2. Monstera Aurea/Marmorata Variegata

Essentially, Monstera Aurea/Marmorata Variegata is just the yellow form of Monstera variegations. If you have seen my previous article on different variegated Monstera forms, you will know that it is not any special than the Albo-Variegated Monsteras (white form). This particular plant's popularity (and price) has skyrocketed over the past 6 months due to a 2020 trend favoring yellow variegations in general.
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The yellow variegated Monstera has not been highly sought after till recent year, resulting in its low stock. Ironically, its low stock at the moment makes its price even higher than the white variegations.

At the moment, a node of this could sell for up to balboa on Etsy. And a mature plant can have a price tag as high as $500.
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However, several plant nurseries have announced that they are starting to propagate more Monstera Aurea Variegata to accommodate the high demand. So hopefully, they will be more affordable very soon.

3. Variegated Philodendron Billiatiae

The Philodendron is not a plant per se, but a genus of plants scientifically known as Araceae. Currently, there are over 480 recognized types of Philodendron. The different types of Philodendron can look and grow quite differently.

Philodendron Billietiae is a form of Philodendron native to Brazil, Guyana, and French Guiana. It is known primarily for its distinctive orange-yellow petioles and wavy, ridged leaf edges.

A variegated Billiatiae plant can range from $5000 to $15000, depending on mature leaves. Each leaf averages at $1000 +.
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This mind-boggling price is due to its extreme rarity.

4. Philodendron Caramel Marble

Caramel Marble is one of the most sought-after philodendrons in the world. The variation of colors on the new leaves can range from orange to fire red to bright pink to deep forest green. Upon maturity, leaves can reach 10 to 14 inches in width and 2 feet in length.

It is a slow-growing philodendron. Because of its price, it is intended for serious plant collectors with deep pockets. And the information on this form of Philodendron is very limited to find.
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What do you think of these plants? Would you consider buying one? Leave your thoughts in the comments:>.

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