Money doesn’t grow on trees. Instead, it appears to sprout from the stems of rare indoor plants, with some Australians collecting thousands of dollars for coveted greenery.
Listings on eBay, Gumtree, and bustling Facebook groups across the nation are offering select plants for big money, suggesting newcomers and hardcore collectors alike are sprucing up their homes during Australia’s lockdown period.
While you might be tempted to reach for the secateurs to cash in for yourself, it’s worth noting which plants appear to command the highest sums.
Variegated plants – plants whose leaves lack the green pigment chlorophyll, causing ghostly streaks or splotches – earn some of the largest bids, given the rarity of the mutation.
At time of writing, established variegated monsteras offered on eBay have commanded over $1,000 in bids, with hours left on each auction.
And that’s just mature plants. Some cuttings, which can be nurtured into fully-grown greenery, command similar sums.
The apparent price spikes come after hysteria over a new varietal, the Thai constellation variegated Monstera, which was only introduced to Australia last year.
Speaking to the New Daily in August, plant retailer Jeff Nielsen said only one plant in 50,000 would naturally demonstrate a speckled colouring, but pointed to a special operation in Thailand dedicated to reproducing the plant’s mutation.
While prices appear to have settled after Bunnings caught on to the trend, established Thai constellations frequently fetch hundreds of dollars on Facebook buy, sell, and trade pages.
A similar monstera without variegation might set you back $30.
Some aficionados feel the craze echoes tulip mania in The Netherlands in the 1600s, which saw an entire bulb-based economy rise and fall in the space of a few years.
It is hard not to link the frenzy to the emergence of indoor greenery as a ubiquitous Instagram aesthetic, which we might eventually see as a visual cue for a generation unable to own a house – but capable of owning a houseplant.
As importation becomes easier due to relaxed lockout laws, it seems likely prices on scarcer variants will fall. Until then, it seems punters across Australia are willing to trade their cash for some striking foliage.