Inside the Digital Marketplace Where Rare Plants Sell For $9,000
Welcome to MonsteraX, the eBay of rare and variegated plants 🌱
By Rae Witte
Since the early days of isolation, the rare plants market has surged, following in the footsteps of the sneaker market with resellers reporting prices jumping from under $100 to hundreds and thousands of dollars, unregulated marketplace scammers, and requiring lots and lots of research. The simple days of bringing a local nursery staple snake plant or ubiquitous fiddle leaf home seem to be over as more people obsess over collecting these scarce breeds.
After losing his mother, Manny Lorras took over the care of her cat and her collection of rare plants. Once a child who begrudgingly tagged along with both parents to flower shows and was given gardening-related chores, Manny found comfort in tending to his newly acquired plant family. “I learned how to rehab these orchids that she had, some snake plants, and more of the traditional houseplants, and I got really into it,” Manny says.
It was a trip to a local plant store near his home in Brooklyn that really threw his interest into overdrive though. “There was this massive plant that was almost five feet tall, had these really bright pink leaves, and I thought it was super cool. I was like, ‘What is this? This is so strange,’” he recalls. “There wasn’t a lot going on, given it was the early days of COVID. I bought it and spent what I thought was a lot of money for a plant at the time: $500.” This turned out to be a variegated plant, which presents multicolored (thus, pink) due to a mutation that results in the absence of chlorophyll.