If I was going to crown the "It" Plant of 2021 so far, it is hands down the Sterling Silver Scindapsus, or botanically known as Scindapsus treubii 'Moonlight'. This foliage plant started causing buzz late in 2020, and it hasn't slowed down. It's part of Costa Farms' Trending Tropical collection, and it seems like it’s not the easiest plant to get your hands on.
First, What Is All the Fuss About?
I'll admit, when I first saw the plant online, I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about. I mean, it looked cool, but it's a Scindapsus, a pretty vining plant with glittery, silvery variegation on its leaves. They are easy to grow and not particularly rare. I have a Scindapsus pictus 'Silvery Ann' I picked up at Home Depot last fall. It's pretty and easy to grow—my favorite kind of plant!
However, plant parents in my houseplant Facebook groups were scouring big-box retailers searching for Costa Farm Trending Tropicals displays to find the Sterling Silver Scindapsus.
Some people were even offering finder's fees for people that came across one. Seriously, was this plant worth all the hub-bub?
Then, I was gifted the coveted Sterling Silver Scindapsus. As much as I wanted to proclaim that it wasn't worth the hype, I had to admit it is a gorgeous plant. So, for all my fellow planty comrades, we spoke with Costa Farms about it. Here are the five reasons this "it" plant so hard to find.
1. It's Part of a Popular Collection
Costa Farms released its Trending Tropicals collection to help connect people to the plants they dream about. The collection brings super-unique houseplants from around the world to your retailers near you. "We know a lot of people have their 'wish list plants'," says Justin Hancock, horticulturist at Costa Farms, “and they can be difficult to find and expensive to acquire." The company is continuously watching trends and finding and testing new varieties to keep up with the houseplant enthusiasts.
Last year, the top-selling Trending Tropicals was the Raven ZZ. "We were able to negotiate exclusive rights to propagate the plant in North America," says Hancock, "And because of the excitement we were seeing from enthusiasts who'd seen it overseas, it's what inspired us to launch Trending Tropicals collection." This year, the plant that's causing the most buzz in the collection is the Sterling Silver Scindapsus.
2. It's Pretty Cool Looking
Sterling Silver Scindapsus is a tropical aroid closely related to pothos, philodendron, and monstera. The plant hails from Southeast Asia. Like its Scindapsus cousins, it’s a slow-growing tailing plant with leathery tear-drop-shaped leaves with a silvery sheen.
The Sterling Silver Scindapsus is pretty and easy to grow—two wins when it comes to houseplants, which is one of the many reasons it's popular. "Part of it is the plant's natural beauty—the silver sheen on the leaves is absolutely delightful and a fun way to contrast other houseplants," says Hancock. "Like variegated Monstera deliciosa and other ‘it plants,’ this Scindapsus typically does well in average home conditions, so it's not a plant you need to struggle with to get it to survive."
3. It Gets Confused with Other Species
I have seen new plant parents get excited about scoring a Sterling Silver Scindapsus to find out later from other houseplant people that it's not. All the varieties in the Scindapsus genus have silverly splashes on their foliage. The Sterling Silver Scindapsus, aka treubii' Moonlight', has completely silver leaves with a dash of green. "There is a closely related species, Scindapsus pictus, which is a lot more common and similar," explains Hancock, "In that, it's also variegated in silver, so I can see how there could be some confusion between the two."
4. It Grows Slowly
Slow-growing plants have their pros and cons. One pro is that you don't have to worry about it taking over your place and needing a lot of care. However, because the Sterling Silver Scindapsus grows slowly, it takes longer to produce the plant for retailers. Hancock says that the slow-growing trait turns some growers off. "The longer it takes to produce a plant, the more opportunity there is for something to go wrong," says Hancock. "It's also a relatively new houseplant on the scene, so compared to some of the tried-and-true favorites, growers who are interested in it haven't had a lot of time to build up mother plants to put it into major production." Costa Farms has been building up its Sterling Silver Scindapsus stock for years.
5. It Sells Out Fast
When a houseplant lover comes across one of the coveted Sterling Silver Scindapsus, it's hard to resist buying an extra or two. Given that the Trending Tropicals display typically only has a few at a time, it can be frustrating to see that you've missed out on them. Although Costa Farms made it available to retailers in the contiguous 48 states and Canada, not every big-box retailer will have it in stock. "Outside of Costa Farms, several small-scale specialty growers offer it via mail-order/online sales," says Hancock. There are also the "plant flippers" on eBay and Etsy who are also selling them. However, Costa Farms is planning to increase Sterling Silver Scindapsus distribution shortly, so be patient!