Coins, cards, antique maps, and whatever suits your fancy can be part of a curated collection. And, there are people in the world who collect rare or unusual houseplants. Why in the world would anyone drop serious cash for leaves? Well, it's the same reason why most people collect items—a rarity. "Right now, it is anything variegated and anything aroid," says author Lisa Eldred Steinkopf of The Houseplant Guru.
Genetic defects cause variegation in the plant world; the lack of green pigment (chlorophyll) in some plant cells is characteristic in leaves that make a plant look more attractive. Variegation is usually the result of a cell mutation. Any plant with variegation immediately catches the eye and makes it more desirable. The other group of highly sought after plants are aroids. These are plants in the Araceae family and include popular varieties such as Pothos, Philodendrons, Alocasias, Monsteras, and ZZ plants. The plants feature striking leaf shapes and textures, and sometimes, unique variegation.
I'm all about cool plants, but I can honestly say I don't think I want one so bad I am willing to drop more than $30 on one. But, it could be that I just haven't experienced the thrill one gets for owning a "rare" plant. What are the most sought after plants that collectors are dropping hundreds of dollars for a plant or cutting? We asked some top houseplant influencers to share what they have seen collectors looking for in their plant communities.
Monstera deliciosa Variegata
"Variegated Monsteras are a top seller, which are around $200, but we've seen them go for much more than that depending on the color of their leaves," says Sean Dollinger, Founder of PlantX, "The whiter the leaves, the more coveted they are based on a rare genetic defect."
Specifically, Monstera deliciosa' Thai Constellation' is possibly the most sought after plant right now.
"The 'Thai Constellation' will go for more than the 'Variegata'. Right now—depending on the specimen and the size—this can go for several hundred to upwards $1,000," says Summer Rayne Oakes of Plant One on Me. Oakes says she's seen cuttings go for as much as $300 to $500. "People in general love Monstera, as it's one of those larger leaved plants with deep fenestrations," says Oakes, "But you add spatter-marked whites and yellows to the leaves—and it'll drive the price up quite readily."
The love for Monstera deliciosa' Thai Constellation' doesn't seems to be ending anytime soon. "This is highest on my wish list, and I'm currently talking to a friend about a cutting," says Nick Cutsumpas, founder of Farmer Nick.
Philodendron 'Pink Princess'
White and yellow variations happen naturally in plants. Pink variegation, however, isn't as common. The 'Pink Princess' is a Philodendron erubescens, a common enough tropical plants found in many nurseries. The 'Pink Princess' cultivar is a man-made hybrid developed in the 1970s. It's been around for a while, lurking in nurseries like any other Philodendron erubescens.
Thanks to Plantfluencers, 'Pink Princess' is now one of the most famous rare specimens houseplants lovers are willing to take out a personal loan to purchase. Is it worth it? Cuttings for Philodendron 'Pink Princess' can be close to $100 and whole plants can cost several hundred dollars, depending on the size. Courtney Warwick of Blkgirlgrnthumb says, "I get happy whenever I see pictures of them. I'm not going to lie, if I had the means to drop major cash to get them, I absolutely would!"
Myrtillocactus geometrizans 'Fukurokuryuzinboku'
The funny-sounding plant is also known as the Breast Cactus. It's an erect cactus with shaped ribs that resemble little breasts. Its relative, the standard Myrtillocactus geometrizans (Blue Candle Cactus), is a popular candelabra-like tree cactus often sold in garden centers.
The "Fukurokuryuzinboku,' a Japanese cultivar is indeed rare and a prized collector item. "The cactus looks like a totem celebrating the divine feminine," says Oakes, "Typically these go for anywhere from $38 to $100 depending on the size of the specimen.
If you happen to like all things geometric, consider a succulent that is almost shaped like a cube. The Pseudolithos cubiformis makes it to the rare list for a couple of reasons. "It grows slowly and very hard to get your paws on," says Oakes.
Like their succulent family members, the Pseudolithos cubiformis prefers full sun and minimal water. However, they are tough to satisfy indoors. Pseudolithos cubiformis will not maintain their square shape or flower without plenty of sunlight. They are only cold hardy to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so they need protection from the cold in the fall and winter. And they are not cheap. "Typically, the smallest specimens will go for $75 to $125," says Oakes.
Aglaonema pictum 'Tricolor'
Aglaonema pictum' Tricolor' has a mixture of three different shades of green—light, medium, and dark on its foliage. "The camouflage appearance of the leaves makes it a real crowd-pleaser," says Oakes.
Although it is relatively easy to grow, it's a slow grower and hard to produce. "Aglaonema cannot be reproduced successfully through tissue culture," explains Oakes, "So there aren't many of these on the market, which drives up the price," Oakes says she purchased her back in 2016 for only $39. Nowadays, she's seen some people pay somewhere between $100 to $200.