Continuing my obsession with online plant shopping, I’ve begun to dive into the expensive world of exotic and rare houseplants.
Let me start off with: if you’re bad with budgeting, then just walk away from this post and instead look at something like what I want to do with my blue kitchen.
I’m also going to say that currently, the plants on this list have not (yet) been purchased by me since I’m working on maturing my goth plants I got on Etsy. But I will get a variegated monstera someday…
Where to Buy Rare and Exotic Plants Online
First, why are these plants so expensive?
You think “houseplants” and you probably think dropping a max of $20 on a potted spider plant and calling it a day. So the sticker shock on these is going to be a hard pill to swallow, and I totally get it.
The reason these plants are in the hundreds of dollars is because they’re either incredibly rare, genetically mutated, a combination of both, difficult to maintain, or can…I don’t know, summon Cthulhu.
What sort of rare plants are there to buy online?
Here are a few of my favorites:
These are just freaking stunning and come in a wide array of green and white patterns. Thai Constellation is a popular version. But I love the half and half ones the most. I bought a White Fusion Calathea as a “poor Megan’s” alternative.
Agalonema Tricolor Pictum
These are AMAZING! I love the camouflage design of the leaves. And since these are in the Chinese Evergreen family, they'll be easy to care for.
Pink Princess Philodendron
I’m not much of a pink person though I can appreciate the stunning brightness of the hues on these leaves and sort of need one in my life. Also since it’s a philodendron I know it will be more on the hardy side.
Some Things to Consider Before Buying Plants Online
Seller reputation – putting down a chunk of money on a live plant can be risky. So ask questions beforehand about their shipping practices, how often they ship, and care instructions. Also find out what their policies are for dead plants. Most won’t offer refunds, but may be willing to replace a plant that’s DOA. But be sure to find out the answer to this before buying. If you’re wary to ask something like that, most seasoned sellers will have this listed in their policies.
Shipping times – most reputable sellers will take care to make sure your plant arrives safely, but delays that are out of their control can happen. So try not to order plants that may sit in hot mail trucks or travel long ways on hot summer days to ensure they’re not too stressed when they arrive.
Triage once they arrive – Your new plant will be stressed from the long journey without sun or nutrients. So you’ll need to baby it for the first few weeks while it acclimates to your home. Make sure the soil you use is sterile and that they have the right sun and water conditions (aka don’t let them burn or wilt).
Rare colorings mean more work – Overall, these variegated plants occur because of genetic mutations and as such, they’re more fragile than their “normal” variations. So take care to pay attention to how you’ll need to ensure they survive and maybe try your hand at the more common variations before investing in rare hybrids or strains of plants. As an example: white patches on leaves generally mean a lack of chloroform so they’ll be much more sensitive to direct sunlight than their all-green counterparts.
Where to Buy Rare and Exotic Plants Online
Amazon – I got my tricolor stromanthea on Amazon, a few carnivorous plants from Joel’s, as well as some more common plants from JMBamboo and haven’t had any issues to date. Though I try to buy from seasoned sellers.
eBay – I’ve only bought carnivorous plants on eBay and have had a 50% success rate (RIP sundew), but they’re still a great way to find clippings or smaller starter plants for less money.
KZPlants on Instagram – I found out about her from gardening subreddits and have yet to bite the bullet and pay for a plant. Though she is very well-regarded from seasoned plant lovers. She runs a nursery in Thailand. So keep in mind that shipping will be expensive (she quotes me at $70 to start, not including the plant cost) but if you look at her collection, it’s definitely drool-worthy.
Take a plant leave a plant subreddit – Another one I have only lurked on and haven’t done yet as I’m still getting the hang of their rules. But you can request plants to trade or buy and many of the sellers have multiple reviews.
Hirt’s – Their selection is more middle-tier rare. But I’ve picked up some great plants from them that are hard to find around here including the pink wandering Jew and string of dolphins.
Here’s my first unboxing from them:
And my second one which has more rare plants than the first: