Reporter&Farmer

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Some plants are for the rich only

For those closest to me, knowing I like to collect and grow houseplants is no secret. It’s not uncommon for me to be visiting with someone for several minutes before I realize their eyes have glazed over sometime back because I’ve been going on about nothing more than houseplants for the duration.

Houseplants have become a real “it” thing for a lot of people. Some of the newest collectors were probably prompted to join because of the pandemic and being locked down at home with nothing better to do – there was a strong plant community out there long before, however.

In the houseplant collecting world, there are definite trends and I’ll admit to having been caught up in a few of them. While some of those I’ve readily traded in once their popularity faded, there are others in my collection which I absolutely adore and couldn’t think of parting with.

The houseplant world also has “common” plants that are cheap and easy to find – then there are the “rare” plants that come with a hefty price tag, far outside my budgeting capacity. And I’m not being stingy when I say that.

Some of these specimen sell at such a rate that even were I filthy stinking rich with nothing better to spend my money on I think I’d still have a hard time doling out that much cash. I mean, can you imagine taking out a small loan to buy something that could die because it didn’t like the air in your house or where you have it sitting in relation to a window? Criminitly I know the pain of losing an $8 houseplant because I couldn’t figure out how to make it happy – I can’t imagine how much it would hurt to lose one that cost triple-digits let alone some of them that go for much higher.

For example, earlier this week the first text of the day from my boyfriend included a news article about a houseplant in New Zealand which sold on a local online auction site for a record-breaking price. The item sold was a white variegated Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma (a beautiful specimen, according to the pictures); it had eight leaves and a ninth one just about ready to unfurl plus it was well-rooted, not just a cutting, which drastically increased its value. This plant, native of Thailand and Malaysia, was caught up in a bidding war last weekend which went right down to the deadline. With 248 bids in the auction, this plant’s sale made news because of the winning bid.

It sold for $19,297.

Along with the link to this story, my boyfriend included a single question: “Did you buy that?”