At aboriginal glance, Kristen Bell’s two attenuate houseplants calmly could be mistaken for the abundant added accepted Anthurium andreanum, additionally accepted as the flamingo lily, which sells for about 10 bucks.
Bell’s Anthurium pendulifoliums amount $175 each.
The difference, she said, is that a flamingo lily, with its ablaze red or blush leaf-like spathe and small, fasten flower, will abound alone about 15 inches tall. It’s awash at best nurseries and big box stores. The pendulifolium, on the added hand, can ability 6 anxiety or added and is accessible alone through specialty growers and collectors.
“I adulation accession these plants,” said Bell, who cares for these and added high-dollar houseplants in a allow in her backyard. “They’re my babies.”
While best bodies accumulate houseplants for the greenery, to admonition apple-pie the air or artlessly because they like to garden, high-dollar specimens like the pendulifolium abide in a dainty apple area they are collected, traded and awash like admired coins, stamps or baseball cards.
Sometimes alleged bays plants, best are adumbration lovers and arise in the close regions of the world. Abounding don’t annual or, if they do, the flowers are inconspicuous. Collectors amount them for their leaves, which can be beyond than a turkey platter. They arise in greens from aphotic and bright to anemic and brindled and all shades in between. The leaves can be altered as if corrective by a botanical Jackson Pollock, fenestrated like a child’s ailing fabricated cardboard snowflake or accept so abounding holes they attending like they were attacked by an army hungry, athirst caterpillars.
“These plants attending so interesting, so different, I never get annoyed of them,” said Liz O’Toole, buyer of E.D. Huntington Orchids and Tropicals in Northern Hills.
The ample greenhouse area O’Toole has propagated, cared for and awash plants for 16 years is hot, boiling and so awkward with hundreds of abounding specimens it’s about absurd to airing through after abrasion adjoin Jurassic Park-size leaves, fronds and added bulb parts.
But these collectible botanicals don’t arise cheap.
Search the e-commerce armpit Etsy for Philodendron melanochrysum, a much-desired bulb with villainously pointy, abysmal blooming and gold-flecked leaves, and you’ll acquisition prices alignment from $60 to $330, depending on the size.
A simple acid of a altered Monstera albo, which has comically large, fenestrated leaves, afresh had an allurement amount of $590.
And again there’s what’s sometimes alleged the Holy Grail of bays plants, the Philodendron spiritus sancti. When mature, the leaves of this Brazilian built-in can abound up to 30 inches long. But alike a babyish case with alone four leaves, anniversary about 5 inches long, will amount $27,500.
But the law of accumulation and appeal works both ways. Not continued ago, Monstera obliquas, a built-in of Central and South America with leaves that are added holes than leaf, were affairs for as abundant as $1,300, said Juan Zavala, who works in the apprenticeship administration at the McNay Art Museum and has been affairs and affairs bays plants for about six years.
The greenhouse at E.D. Huntington Orchids and Tropicals is so arranged with abounding specimens it’s difficult to airing through after abrasion adjoin huge, Jurassic Park-size leaves, fronds and added greenery.
“The bulb is accessible to propagate, so bodies were able to accomplish added of them,” he said. “These canicule you can acquisition them for as bargain as $300.”
Collectors adduce several affidavit why these plants, which to the blooming eye can arise to be annihilation added than a accepted houseplant, can command such prices.
Some are genetically rare, acceptation they’re a accepted blazon of bulb that displays an aberrant mutation. This ability be an abnormal blush or variegation, authoritative it different and added absorbing to attending at.
Others are numerically rare. In added words, there are too few to accommodated demand, generally because they abound boring or are difficult to propagate.
“Some plants can booty years to get ample abundant to sell,” said Bryan Markley, buyer of Wild Roots Nursery in New Braunfels.
Others are attenuate because they’re endangered, either through abode accident or altitude change.
Finally, like a lot of things, the bays bulb bazaar is generally apprenticed by amusing media. An acknowledging column by Instagram influencers such as @mickmitty, @nsetropicals or @urlocalplantboy can activate a run on a ahead abandoned blazon of plant.
When it comes to pricing, the bays bulb apple is the Wild West, said Lizzy Aranibar who started the San Antonio Bulb & Garden Lovers Facebook accumulation aloof above-mentioned to the pandemic. It now has about about 5,000 members.
The folio occasionally appearance bays plants affairs for four abstracts or more, admitting best go for less. Recently, one affiliate offered an Anthurium amuse for sale. The built-in of Peru grows massive leaves up to 3 anxiety continued with veining that seems to glow.
Philodendron melanochrysum at Wild Roots Nursery. It’s accepted for its pointy, abysmal blooming leaves that are brindle with gold.
But this bulb was a baby, aloof a distinct buttery leaf, for which the agent was allurement $140.
When addition challenged that amount (“That’s a LOT of money for a distinct blade plant!”) the agent acquaint an angel of a agnate bulb on Etsy actuality offered for $355.
“The bulb was account what he was asking,” Aranibar said. “If bodies are accommodating to pay that, who’s to catechism him?”
And added bodies allegedly are accommodating to pay.
Liz O’Toole said that over the accomplished two years she’s apparent affluence advantageous “ridiculous” prices for bays plants. She blames (or credits) communicable calm orders.
“They weren’t alive but they were accepting checks,” she said. “So they were attractive for article to do and had money to spend.”
Not everything’s for auction in the apple of bays plants, however, alike amid bulb retailers.
Markley, the New Braunfels nursery owner, has several plants in his claimed accumulating that he refuses to allotment with, including a Monstera excellent he afresh traded for during a bulb appearance in Florida. It’s a arresting plant, with large, fenestrated leaves that ambit from all blooming to half-green, half-white and about every abundance in between.
“The plants we traded were appealing comparable,” he said. “But the admirer I traded with, he aloof collects plants, and he had a agglomeration of these and I had article he wanted. So you aloof trade.”
A win-win for both collectors.
This is a Philodendron Melanochrysum is additionally accepted as the Black Gold Philodendron.
Set a budget. You’re apparently activity to annihilate a bulb or two as you apprentice the ropes, so don’t absorb added on a bulb than you can allow to lose.
Buy locally. The plants will be bigger established, won’t abide the agony of actuality alien continued distances and you’ll accept addition to about-face to if the bulb has problems.
Give it time. It can a while for a bulb to acclimatize to its new ambiance (i.e. your home), so delay several weeks afore re-potting.
Join a group. Facebook groups such as the San Antonio Bulb & Garden Lovers and San Antonio Houseplant Collectors can be abundant sources of advice. YouTube videos and Google searches are additionally helpful.
SOURCES: Juan Zavala and Kristen Bell
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