Houseplants get pricey as our love for them grows

Plant lovers’ spending is up — sometimes with unbelievable price points.

In 2021, a white variegated Rhaphidophora tetrasperma auctioned for ~$19.2k in New Zealand. And here I thought my $25 lemon-lime prayer plant was a splurge.


Per The Washington Post, purveyors of rare foliage drop big bucks and engage in bidding wars for the most coveted plants, but — unlike the biblical baby that revealed Solomon’s wisdom — they can be split in half.

In fact, one collector has turned propagation into a side hustle, selling her replantable clippings on Etsy.

Yet even more common plants have shot up in price as demand has increased.

Houseplants surged in popularity…

… amid the pandemic, as people stuck mostly inside craved nature and new hobbies. In 2020, sales for potted foliage increased 23%, per Business Insider, and in 2021, the plant-growing industry was worth $16B.

Why do plants have such staying power? Some say it’s because we’re, well, sad.

  • Younger plant parents — locked out of homeownership — love house plants because they can’t have yards.
  • An essay in The Atlantic pondered if plant collecting was a manifestation of eco-grief on a dying plant. Another in The Independent chalked it up to career instability and delayed parenthood (of human children, not succulents).

Less grim?

Social media, where #planttok has 4.5B views and particularly winsome plants — like the philodendron pink princess — can become instant sensations.

The same is true of seasonal plants; in 2021, pumpkin farmer Mark Craven told The Hustle that the Pinterests and Martha Stewarts of the world influence which varieties are hot every Halloween.

Fun fact: One of the most expensive plants is the bonsai tree, which can endure for centuries with proper maintenance. At a 2011 convention in Japan, a stunning white pine tree sold for ~$1.3m.

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Topics: Agriculture

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