This Plant Costs 675,000 Pesos—What Is It And Why?
We talk to ultimate plantitas Belle’s Plant Haul Collections and Plains and Plants to understand rare and expensive plants
The pandemic has undeniably made plantitos and plantitas of us all. With only so much to do at home, many resorted to fixing their homes, finding new hobbies, and, of course, building their gardens.
Some can only invest so much on creating the perfect garden. But nowadays, beautiful bougainvillea bushes or lush San Francisco plants just won’t cut it anymore. Many are on the hunt for beautiful variegations and, in some cases, rarer varieties.
While there are many plant shops sprouting all over Instagram and Facebook, we found two unique sellers, who are definitely not your average plantitas. Belle’s Plant Haul Collections and Plains and Plants have a unique niche market: those looking for rare plants that can sell from as “little” as 20,000 pesos to as much as 675,000 pesos.
What does it take to get into the rare plant game?
There’s a fine line that separates a plant enthusiast from a plant collector. An enthusiast will want to obtain beautiful plants, will know how to care for it, and most of the times shy away from the more expensive ones. These are the plantitas and plantitos that we have come to know this pandemic, many starting with just one or two succulents, and before they realize it, they already have a balcony full of potted syngoniums, calatheas, and philodendrons.
A plant collector, on the other hand, is very similar to toy and hobby collectors. They are willing to invest in the more premium and rare pieces in pursuit of knowledge or to satisfy a deep craving for the unknown. In the same way that hobbyists are willing to spend thousands of pesos for limited edition items to be one of the only 100 people in the world who has one, plant collectors take pride in having the connections and capabilities to not only secure, but care for a really rare plant.
Plain and Plants, for example, is a pandemic passion turned business.
“Plain and Plants is basically everyone in our household,” says Steph, owner and mother of the Plains and Plants team. “It’s me, my husband, and our helper who makes up the team, and our kids just make it more fun. Plains and Plants started with my desire to have plants of my own. When the pandemic started, we wanted to redecorate a bit and I wanted to bring plants to our home. I started looking for specific plants that I found nice and asked people if they wanted one too. That’s where our little shop began. We were selling local common plants at first. Then, we started offering rare plants and plants from other countries.”
Belle’s Plant Haul Collections, on the other hand, is a tag-team effort by mother and daughter Belle and Libertad Pamplona.
“My mother has her own garden and she has been selling plants for years,” says Belle. Belle, on the other hand, takes care of the marketing and sales operations online. Most of the rare plants that she sells come from the collection of Sheila Esquillo and Gabriel Esquillo Trinidad, a mother-son rare plant collector tandem from Bedrock Ornamental Plant Farm in Mindanao.
What makes a plant so expensive?
Many things factor into what drives the price of a plant. Most of the time, it’s because of the plant’s rarity.
A plant’s rarity is dictated by a number of factors. Some plants, for example, come into existence because they are specifically crossbred to bring out the plant’s positive attributes. Not only is plant breeding so difficult to pull off, but when successful, creates a beautiful and one-of-a-kind plant that will be almost impossible to replicate.
Variegation also plays a huge factor in a plant’s price. While breeding is purposeful and can be engineered, variegations often occur randomly as genetic mutations in the plants. The lack of chlorophyll in certain plant cells bring about these beautiful and often hard-to-replicate tints and variegations in plant leaves, making them precious and expensive.
Gardening as a pandemic hobby is also to blame. “Aside from being rare, nowadays, plants prices are also skyrocketing due to the increase in demand. But of course, the gardeners’ supply cannot meet the new demand,” says Belle.
Steph says it’s also more than the rarity of the plant. It’s also the many things that help grow and keep the plant happy and healthy.
“As a plant mom, plants for me are not objects or commodities that you can put a certain price for all its kinds. They differ in a lot of things such as the pot, the soil, the quality of leaves, the rarity of a certain plant type, and of course, the amount of care you put in it and the effort to acquire it,” says Steph.
Unlike expensive cars or electronics that are readily available, the sourcing of rare plants in itself is a difficult task. “Plant sellers have different sources for the plants they sell. That’s why it’s hard to compare prices as they don’t come from a single manufacturer that creates plants in bulk. Sure, there are nurseries from all over the country and overseas, but it’s not as easy as buying from the grocery,” adds Steph.
Especially since many rare plants are imported from overseas, transportation can be very tricky. You have to take into consideration the effort to import and transport the plant, so that they are comfortable and well throughout the journey. It’s not as easy as wrapping them in layers of bubble wrap to keep them safe and in one piece.
What are some of the most expensive plants available here?
Variegated monsteras, philodendrons, and anthuriums are some of the most popular rare plants available here in the Philippines. Imagine if a regular cutting of a monstera deliciosa already fetches at least 2,000 pesos from any plant store, what more a healthy, beautifully variegated, and older monstera plant?
The Monstera Thai Constellation is one of the most popular rare variegations of the Monstera plant. This variety features scattered cream blotches that resemble that of a night sky—ergo, its name. At Plains and Plants, Steph says they would sell these Monstera Thai Constellations at 15,000 to 35,000 pesos.
But more recently, the Thai Constellation has been dethroned by the more expensive and rarer Monstera Albo. Steph says the most expensive plant they’ve sold at their store is a giant Monstera Albo that costs 150,000 pesos.
Monstera Albo varieities are also some of the most expensive plants sold by Belle’s Plant Haul Collections. Belle has sold a Monstera Borsigiana Aurea for 160,000 pesos and a Monstera Adansonii Albo for as much as 280,000 pesos.
Take note that these are “sold” plants, and not just “for sale.” Meaning, plant mommas are indeed willing to shell out thousands of pesos for these babies.
Apart from monsteras, anthuriums are also making waves in the rare plant market. For regular plant enthusiasts, the anthuriums we know are small indoor plants with long-lasting leaf-flowers that can be white, red, pink, or purplish. But at Plains and Plants, you can find anthuriums with long gigantic leaves such as the Anthrurium Warocqueanum and Anthurium Veitchii (commonly called as Anthurium Queen and King), which can fetch up to 100,000 pesos.
So, what plant sold for 675,000 pesos?
Speaking of king and queen, some of the royals of the rare plant market in terms of rarity and price are the philodendrons. Regular Philodendron Billitiaes and Red Congos should be fairly inexpensive to procure, but once you get the really beautifully variegated ones, you’re looking at upwards of 100,000 pesos for those babies. Apart from the on-point variegation, the price also shoots up because Philodendrons don’t grow that fast so they’re hard to propagate, and they’re sensibly hardy so you won’t kill it easily (*cough* Calatheas *cough*).
One of Belle’s Plant Haul Collections’ most expensive plants was a stunning variegated Philodendron Billitiae with a half moon yellow and green variegation. This plant is for sale for 350,000 pesos.
But what truly blew us away is her most expensive sale to date. This ultra-rare variegated Red Congo has achieved such rare and stunning variegation that it almost looks like a painted masterpiece. With variegations, you usually get one other color from the usual dark green tint—usually light green, yellow, or white. This Philodendron Red Congo has peach, yellow, cream, and white variegations—all in one plant! And not to mention, instead of the classic orange stems of the philodendrons, this red congo has striking red stems.
This level of variegation has really made this plant a much-coveted purchase. According to Belle, they sold this variegated Philodendron Red Congo for 675,000 pesos.
Check out the gallery below for more rare plant finds from Belle’s Plant Haul Collections and Plains and Plants.
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Anthurium Warocqueanum a.k.a. Anthurium Queen, 40,000 - 100,000 pesos
Photo Credit: Plains and Plants
You can find Plains and Plants on Instagram at @plainsandplants. Belle’s Plant Haul Collections is on Instagram at @bellesplanthaulcollections.ph and on Facebook at Cherry Belle Pamplona Estrabon.