Why I Don’t Buy Expensive Plants

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This is not anti-expensive house plant rant.

I love expensive house plants.

A lot of people might think that spending three figures and up on a plant is a waste of money, but as long you can care for it, you can sell props and recoup your losses.

So I’m not judging anyone.

I’d hate to add up all the money I’ve spent on plants. It’s definitely over a thousand pounds. Eep.

The most I’ve ever spent on a plant is around £30 I think, and my boyfriend bought me a Monstera Thai Constellation for £89.99. I don’t think I’ll ever spend more than that, unless I become a millionaire.

Even then I think I’d rather spend the money on hiring someone to help me water my many, many cheap plants.

With all this being said, I did notice (as did everyone) that things went a bit…nuts in 2020. Plant that were previously a pretty reasonable price were suddenly extremely expensive (Philodendron Pink Princess, we’re looking at you).

There was also a bit of FOMO and plant shaming kicking around, and I don’t like it. Snake plants, Pothos, and rubber trees don’t deserve all the bad press. Just because they’re good for beginners doesn’t mean they’re not beautiful plants in their own right.

So, here are my reasons for not buying expensive plants.

Not that I need a reason.

I did need something to write about though, and hopefully it’ll make those of you that are happy with your Pothos and Monstera feel like part of the plant parent crew!

Expensive plants cause me stress

The amount of time I spend fussing over that damn Thai is ridiculous, and it’s put out precisely TWO (2) leaves in the past year.

I love it, and I think it’s beautiful, but oh my god it makes me anxious.

Stress is not what I’m after in something that is meant to bring me joy.

Having to keep multiple expensive plants alive would be…too much. And if they got pests, I’d be stressed even further.

monstera leaf

Expensive plants aren’t always worth the price

Variegated Monstera got an entire article on this.

Supply and demand during the pandemic meant that a lot of plants that used to be cheap are now expensive.

I cannot play £150 for a plant that used to be £20. I will not do it.

There are also reports that growers are controlling the number of certain plant species on the market, to keep the price high.

This is pretty standard business practice, so I can’t exactly blame anyone here, but what I can do is wait.

At some point, one of two things will probably happen:

  1. Demand will decrease once everyone that’s willing to pay top dollar has their plant. Prices will decrease in response.
  2. Some clever clogs in a lab will tissue culture it, making the plant much easier and quicker to produce, and the price will decrease.

OR

super secret option no. 3, which is that supermarkets will get hold of a certain plant and demand a lower price. This is usually the case for rare plants, but it’s GREAT for big-ass plants. Sainsbury’s in the UK are selling some MONSTER Golden Pothos and Monstera Adansonii for, like, a tenner.

monstera leaf

I worry about plant poaching

If plants are in high demand but scarce, the ears of nefarious peoples prick up (is that phrase? Ears prick up? Sounds weird).

There is a LOT of plant poaching going on in the world, though admittedly I don’t know a lot about it.

The two plants that are commonly poached from the wild are Aglaonema pictum tri-color (the one that’s distinguishable by its camouflage-patterned leaves and apparent complete inability to stay alive) and those big barrel cactus that grow in the Southern US and Central America.

Plant poaching doesn’t help anyone (except the poacher, I guess). Every plant poached drives the price up further, making them MORE valuable, and risks certain plants becoming extinct.

A bit of further reading has found that dwarf anthuriums are often poached. Considering how expensive regular Anthuriums are, I dread to think how much dwarf ones go for.

monstera leaf

I want to appreciate the plants I have

Remember when you first got into plants, and every trips to the garden centre meant bringing another half-dozen plants home?

Me too.

At some point you end up disappointed after nursery trips stop yielding new and exciting plants. You’re by in the Pokemon mindset, and you want your collection complete.

Your collection will never be complete. There are many thousands of just orchid species, god knows how many plant species there are.

I do kind of encourage the initial ‘gotta catch them all’ mentality. It helps you hone in on the plants you like.

But once your collection is established, and you have as many plants as you can care for, rather than extending your collection by getting more plants, concentrate on growing your existing plants.

Many of the house plants that are commonly available are bought in their juvenile form, and you learn a lot from trying to grow your plants into their mature form (and you can sell cuttings and recoup some of your losses!).

monstera leaf

Plants are not a priority, financially speaking

As I mentioned before, plants aren’t necessarily a sunk cost, because you can propagate them and break even pretty quickly.

Even giving cuttings as gifts can save you money, since you don’t have to spend money that you otherwise would have.

But at the moment, we’re trying to cobble together a deposit for a house. I’ve worked in a low-income job for over a decade (I did NOT become the overnight writing success I thought I would), so whilst I am building those income streams, it’s slow going.

I long ago realised that if I wanted to live the way I wanted to (low stress day job I could leave at work, two days off a week) I needed to sacrifice a high wage. No problem. But I don’t want to sacrifice a bit of security housing-wise for a rental full of plants.

Also, think of how big my plants would grow if I had a conservatory.

I’m not saying plants are a waste of money, just that I’m trying to save for other things atm.

Final thoughts

I’m not saying I’ll never buy an expensive plant. If it fulfilled the criteria of being pretty, and being good to write about, then maybe.

For example of a load of people asked me about the care of a certain plant, I’d for sure get one (plz don’t request Ring of Fire care until the price goes down).

The events of 2020 had a huge impact on the price of house plants.

I can’t complain – the newfound interest in plants also grew this website, but I’m still interested to see if the prices return to pre-2020 prices.

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