Houseplants are more popular than ever.
Many of of decided to add to our home jungle over the course of the pandemic, with supermarkets, and shops like B&M and B&Q all providing easy access to reasonably priced plants.
However, most people likely didn’t know that what might have just been an impulse buy could actually be worth a fortune.
It has been revealed that shops including Lidl and B&Q have unknowingly been selling rare plants worth thousands, for as little as a tenner.
Certain varieties of plants have variations that cause changes in colour, which can sometimes be mistaken for disease, by unknowing sellers and shop workers.
These are actually rare markings on plants that can be incredibly valuable as a result – with some stems alone making hundreds of pounds.
Harry Langstaff and Amy Biffa, who have their own business, The Plant Couple, had been perusing their local B&Q when they came across a gem of their own.
They spotted a yellowing plant, that had been reduced to £12 from £24, due to its yellowing leaves.
However, as it happens, the yellowing in question was actually a was actually a feature of the extremely rare monstera aurea marmorata – a variety of the trusty cheese plant.
The plant has unique markings, and take a longer time to grow – meaning that it’s harder for them to be mass produced. The more elaborate versions of this species can sell up to £2,000 for a whole plant.
Harry and Amy have said that they couldn’t believe their eyes when they spotted the plant.
‘When we first saw the plant sitting there, we kind of just looked at each other and really couldn’t believe what we were seeing,’ Harry said.
‘It was reduced to £12 because it had a yellow leaf that B&Q must have assumed meant it was sick.
‘For people who collect houseplants, it’s like winning the lottery, so you can imagine what we were feeling at the time.
‘We hastily checked the stem for any colour, we then immediately just snatched it up and strapped it in the back seat with a seatbelt like it was our child.’
Why is this plant so valuable?
It’s true that this monstera or swiss cheese plant is rare, explains Harry Bodell, gardening expert at PriceYourJob.
He adds that it’s the kind of plant you’d usually have to buy from a specialist, rather than a garden centre – meaning that you’ll naturally pay more money for it.
‘It’s worth noting that the plant found by the lucky couple in B&Q can go under other names, he says. ‘You might find it listed as Monstera Deliciosa Aurea.’
Essentially, monstera leaves that are variegated tend to be more expensive.
‘And this one is so special because the variegation on the leaves is of a yellow or lime colour rather than the more common white pattern,’ Harry adds.
‘So, this is a good thing to look out for.’
However, Harry points out that discolouration could be caused due to ill health, which is something to be aware of.
‘You may need to feel the leaves and look at the health of the plant to check whether the discolouration is due to the variegation of the leaves or due to disease or incorrect watering,’ he advises.
‘Usually, it’s different on each leaf and in blocks rather than a mottled effect.’
How to get your hands on a rare plant
Rare and expensive plants can be difficult to track down, despite the fact that they’ve cropped up in some supermarkets over the last few months.
Often, these plants are collected and grown by plant aficionados.
‘However, luckily, most plants (rare ones included!) are known for their ability to grow and reproduce so eventually they may also show up in a nearby garden centre, Facebook group, or online auction for you to buy,’ explains Elin Harryson, in-house plant expert atPlanta, the Swedish plant care app.
It’s certainly worth keeping your eyes peeled for any unusually patterned plants.
Variegated plants (which is when the leaves have more than one colour) are super popular and have been for a couple of years now.
‘These versions of common house plants can sometimes be found amongst the regular green ones that are in an ordinary shop, and are very fun to come across or hunt down,’ Elin advises.
Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries, suggests that, if you are keen to find a rare/valuable plant, then you should always be on the lookout for that ‘different’ plant or the ‘black sheep’ that stands out from the crowd.
‘Look for aplantin a batch that is different in a good way,’ he says.
‘If you discover a newplantthis way, or by breeding one – then you can apply forplantbreeders rights/variety protection,’ he adds.
‘Basically, you charge a royalty every time a nursery grows another one by taking a cutting… and it’s big business!’
How to identify whether you’ve discovered a rare plant
There are plenty of tools that can help you identify what you’ve discovered.
Platforms like Planta, for example, allow you to photograph any species, and help you instantly identify what species you’re working with, alongside its scientific name and care needs.
‘From there, a general search should help you pinpoint their pricing, and if you’re finding a true steal,’ says Elin.
Remember that size doesn’t matter when looking for rarities – in fact, a large plant may indicate that it has peaked, and could deteriorate when moved to a new environment, like your home.
‘Often, the best way to invest in plants (rare or otherwise) is to get them when they’re small, and nurture them,’ Elin explains.
However, if anyone is in doubt about whether their plant is rare or valuable, then there’s always the option of consulting an expert.
‘The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) can point you in the right direction, but many plant varieties do look incredibly similar,’ says Harry.
‘So, you may need to find someone who can see it in person.
‘Many specialist growers attend the major regional and national flower shows. So, if you’re fairly convinced you have a rarity, you may want to take the plant along.
And it’s not just monstera – many common houseplants have cultivars or varieties that are rare.
It’s a good idea to look for variegated versions of plants. For example, Harry suggests that, as well as monstera varieties, a good one to look out for is the Philodendron ‘White Princess’.
Unlike common varieties of this popular houseplant, its leaves have large patches of white on them, and it’s a rare versions of the South American plant. One wassold for £370 on eBay last year.
The pink version goes for as much as £2,228 on Etsy, and a single leaf could earn you around £200.
Try breeding your own
Morris suggests that if your’e really keen, you can have a go at hybridising plants yourself.
‘Plant breeding is a big business often dominated by multinational companies, but amateur gardeners get their share of new plants too,’ he says.
He adds that, if you do find a new plant – get it protected.
‘Protected varieties of bedding plants can generate a few pence for each plant (but a good one may sell millions of plants), shrubs and roses can often be much more than this per plant, although they may not sell as many plants.
‘It soon adds up.’
How to care for a rare plant - expert tips
Research your rare species – Taking care of your house plant isn’t meant to be a chore! By learning about your unique houseplants, you can break down their needs and access their care advice.
Check its care needs – Plants being sold through stores or nurseries typically come with a small card that identifies their name, and gives a brief overview of their light and water requirements.
Before bringing any plants home, especially rare ones, be sure to look over their care cards to make sure you can position them in a place that aligns with their requirements.
Also see if they’re toxic, and if you have any children or pets, consider leaving this plant at home if they are classified as dangerous.
Create a routine – If you’re looking after your various plants is proving to be challenging, consider creating a care schedule specific to your collection.
Let it settle – Moving a plant from its nursery into a new environment, like your home, can sometimes cause it to go into shock. When you first bring new plants home, be sure to follow their care needs, and let them settle for a few weeks before trying any propagation or repotting techniques, to better help them flourish in the long term.
Propagate – All plants have different propagation techniques, and it can be especially exciting to carry out this practice to help grow your collection of rare plants.
When your plants have settled and are ready for a trim, pay close attention to their specific propagation techniques to ensure you don’t damage the original, whilst helping the new cutting thrive.
Source: Elin Harryson, in-house plant expert at Planta, the Swedish plant care app
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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
Houseplants have become increasingly popular, with many people adding them to their homes during the pandemic. Supermarkets and shops like B&M and B&Q have made it easy to access reasonably priced plants [].
Recently, it was revealed that certain shops, including Lidl and B&Q, have unknowingly been selling rare plants worth thousands of pounds for as little as £10. These plants have variations in color that can sometimes be mistaken for disease by sellers and shop workers. However, these variations are actually rare markings on the plants that can make them incredibly valuable. Some stems alone can fetch hundreds of pounds [].
One example of a rare plant that was found at B&Q is the monstera aurea marmorata, a variety of the monstera or swiss cheese plant. This plant has unique markings and takes a longer time to grow, making it harder to mass-produce. The more elaborate versions of this species can sell for up to £2,000 for a whole plant [].
The value of this plant is due to its rarity. Typically, plants like the monstera aurea marmorata are purchased from specialists rather than garden centers, which naturally increases their price [].
Variegated monstera leaves, which have more than one color, tend to be more expensive. The monstera aurea marmorata is particularly special because the variegation on its leaves is yellow or lime-colored, rather than the more common white pattern. This makes it highly sought after by collectors [].
It's worth noting that discolouration in plants could be caused by ill health, so it's important to examine the leaves and overall health of the plant to determine if the discolouration is due to variegation or disease [].
Rare and expensive plants can be difficult to find, but they may show up in nearby garden centers, Facebook groups, or online auctions. It's recommended to keep an eye out for unusually patterned plants, as variegated versions of common houseplants are popular and fun to come across [].
To identify a rare plant, there are tools available that can help. For example, the Planta app allows users to photograph any species and instantly identify it, along with its scientific name and care needs. Conducting a general search can also help determine the pricing of a rare plant [].
When caring for a rare plant, it's important to research its specific needs and access care advice. Care cards provided with plants sold in stores or nurseries can provide information on light and water requirements. Creating a care schedule and allowing the plant to settle in its new environment before attempting propagation or repotting techniques are also recommended [].
In conclusion, houseplants have gained popularity, and some shops have unknowingly sold rare plants worth thousands of pounds. The monstera aurea marmorata is an example of a rare plant that can be highly valuable due to its unique markings and slower growth. Variegated plants, like the monstera aurea marmorata, tend to be more expensive, and it's important to verify if discolouration is due to variegation or disease. Rare plants can be found in garden centers, online auctions, and Facebook groups. When caring for a rare plant, it's essential to research its specific needs and create a care routine.