"It’s still so beautiful, a pink version is just one step cooler"
February 19, 2020 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Trendiness and the prospect of Instagram clout have led to photogenic plants like the pink princess and monstera oblique being sold for ten or a hundred times what they were going for a decade ago, and the sale of unusual houseplants is now a big business. But with the rise in rare plants comes the rise of rare plant scams.
posted by Copronymus (15 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
This is not a repeat from 1637 Amsterdam /fark
posted by J.K. Seazer at 8:47 AM on February 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

I wonder what it says about me that I saw this and immediately assumed the title referred to the new "coral" Nintendo Switch.

Also, always be wary of unethical plant cultivation. Or just assume it in the case of anything "trendy"?
posted by seraphine at 8:49 AM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

TIL that there are grown people who nonironically use the term "plantfluencer".

posted by Mchelly at 8:51 AM on February 19, 2020 [10 favorites]

This is super relevant to my interests, (and by interests i mean pet peeves) so thank you!
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:55 AM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Interesting choice by Wired to run a story about a beautiful plant that is fetching absurd prices because people want to post photos of it, and not include a single photo.
posted by ejs at 10:33 AM on February 19, 2020 [30 favorites]

The phrase "rare plants" has a very specific meaning in my discipline: plants that are legally protected due to limited distributions or threats from habitat loss and other human factors. To see the phrase applied to sports of a common houseplant, which are "rare" in the sense that a beanie baby could be rare, is very jarring.
posted by agentofselection at 10:59 AM on February 19, 2020 [11 favorites]

Really interesting. I had no idea this corner of the Internet existed. I thought the kids were just into succulents. I grow and cultivate native plants, some of them rare, and I’ve never sold any - I just trade bulbs and bare roots occasionally or give them to friends. I am apparently doing it all wrong. I am also not an influencer but occasionally own the #trillium tag. I totally own it.
posted by misterpatrick at 11:13 AM on February 19, 2020 [4 favorites]

for such a long article (that i skimmed, i admit) there were no actual pictures of the actual plants being mentioned. yes, i googled them.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:01 PM on February 19, 2020 [5 favorites]

I recently read a similar article in my local paper. I don't understand the appeal of paying so much for a plant because it is popular right now - there are so many nice plants out there just get one of those instead.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:20 PM on February 19, 2020

brb, gotta irradiate my houseplants to see if I get any interesting sports.
posted by clew at 3:03 PM on February 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

This reminded me of an article I read in The Guardian about people stealing cuttings from nurseries.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 3:41 PM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

So at my job we just got in the newest thing- A Monstera Minima. It's like a regular split leaf but teeny. It retails... for a lot. That link has a price but ours is way higher. We don't put it where we put our other Philos- This guy goes on the info booth where we work- specifically so no one can steal cuttings. It's wildly overpriced- but I guarantee you someone will buy it.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:01 PM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Homo neanderthalensis, I’m rather curious where you’re located as rhaphidophora tetrasperma, while still a bit of a hot item where I am, are pretty easy to find here.

That’s one of the really fascinating aspects of plants as a hobby, rarity is so dependent on location. I can find a decent selection as I’m in SoCal, and Florida plant folks are the luckiest...natural greenhouse conditions. The pink princess also has decent availability, but the price is definitely higher. The monstera obliqua is a little too insane to me (especially since the natural risk of all these purchases is the plant could die...I don’t mind that so much for a $20 plant but I’d be sooo upset to watch a $2k plant shrivel away) but my current covet is a monstera albo variegata, which goes for about $300 for a plant with two nicely variegated leaves, where I am. And it has built in shelf-life when it comes to rarity, as it cannot be propogated quickly enough to meet demand due to slow growing because of its variegated leaves. Not enough chlorophyll for quick growth. And the catch is that nice variegation is the most valued, but if you end up with too much (sometimes all white leaves) the plant will eventually die because it cannot photosynthesize.

This article is right up my alley as I got intensely into plants last year...imagine my delight to see that plant drama has made it all the way here on the Blue! My worlds are colliding. I always thought I had a black thumb because I could kill succulents (I still think they are harder than people say), but once I learned how to properly take care of a plant it’s like something in me snapped and I sent nuts. I currently have upwards of 40 houseplants and that’s nothing compared to some people. I get how it seems totally wild to spend this much money on a plant but it’s kind of like any hobby, isn’t it? And it’s quite therapeutic in a way...I find keeping my leafy charges alive very soothing and almost gratifying, and get cleaner air in the process.

Anyway, this comment is rambling but I just got so excited and tickled pink congo to see this topic here. I could talk about it all day. And it may be bizarre to consider rare plants from the point of inflated value, but diving into that world has introduced me to the insane variety and beauty of plants all over the world. It just reminds me of how nature is truly so remarkable.
posted by sprezzy at 11:14 PM on February 19, 2020 [8 favorites]

Norcal. SF specifically- and yeah it's really interesting the difference in availability the more north you go.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:11 PM on February 20, 2020

Does anyone have a link to an article that explains the resurgent trendiness of live houseplants?
posted by Selena777 at 8:25 AM on February 21, 2020

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