10 Rarest Houseplants in the World

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In the past few years, collecting houseplants has exploded among millennials, giving rise to “plant influencers.” Many young people are choosing to raise plants instead of children. As with any collectible items, the rarest houseplants are being sold for thousands of dollars and sparking bidding wars on trading sites. In general, the rarest houseplants are variegated, meaning that the leaves and sometimes stems have different colored stems that typically do no occur naturally. Cultivating variegated plants is incredibly difficult and tends to make the plants harder to care for. On top of that, the current high demand for certain variegations leads to rarity and high prices.

As of November 2020, the information on this list is as accurate as possible and will be updated as needed.

  1. Variegated Echeveria Lola
  2. Current Value: $225 – $280 (prices listed by various sellers)
     Reason for Rarity: Difficult to cultivate variegation
    Country of Origin: California, USA
    Scientific Name: Echeveria lola
    Variegated Echeveria Lola
    photo source: Cedar Creek Farmhouse

    As with most of the other rare houseplants on this list, the variegated version of the Echeveria Lola is an expensive plant. The Echeveria Lola is a hybrid between the Echeveria lilacina and the Echeveria derenbergii , cultivated by the famous echeveria breeder Dick Wright in 1980. While regular Echiveria Lola are already beautiful, variegated versions have a unique look and highly desired.

    Did You Know?

    When Echeveria Lola is exposed to brighter lights and colder temperatures, its leaves develop a pinkish color on the edges.


  3. Alocasia Azlanii
  4. Current Value: $75 – $300 (prices listed by various sellers)
     Reason for Rarity: Difficult to cultivate variegation
    Country of Origin: Malaysia
    Scientific Name: Alocasia azlanii
    Alocasia Azlanii
    photo source: happyforest.store

    Alocasia Azlanii or Red Mambo is the rarest and most beautiful of the Jewel Alocasias. The Red Mambo is prized for its leaves, which leaves that appear almost dark purple with red/pinkish veins. The veining can even be hot pink or bright purple. The Alocasia Azlanii is native to Malaysia and despite the demand, its in short supply.

    Did You Know?

    The back of Alocasia Azlanii leaves are a deep red.


  5. Variegated Cotyledon Orbiculata
  6. Current Value: $165 – $425 (prices listed by various sellers)
     Reason for Rarity: Difficult to cultivate variegation
    Country of Origin: South Africa
    Scientific Name: Cotyledon orbiculata cv variegata
    Variegated Cotyledon Orbiculata
    photo source: Reddit


    Variegated Cotyledon Orbiculata is a succulent native to South Africa. There are a wide variety of cultivars of Cotyledon Obiculata and certain variegations are rare and sell for a few hundred dollars. Cuttings from Cotyledon Orbiculata Variegata are difficult to import and often take a long time to root. Unfortunately, Variegated Cotyledon Orbiculata are prone to rot, which makes selling cuttings even more difficult.

    Did You Know?

    The different varieties of Cotyledon obiculata vary greatly in appearance; some have flat leaves, others have long leaves, and “Oophylla” have round leaves that look like grapes.


  7. Philodendron Pink Princess
  8. Current Value: $150 – $1,500 (prices listed by various sellers)
     Reason for Rarity: Difficult to cultivate variegation
    Country of Origin: Colombia
    Scientific Name: Philodendron erubescens
    Philodendron Pink Princess
    photo source: Ohio Tropics

    The Philodendron Pink Princess features leaves with a striking pink color mixed in with the plant’s natural dark green. Of course a plant like this is extremely photogenic, which makes the Philodendron Pink Princess one of the hottest plants on Instagram. The high demand along with the difficulty of propagating Philodendron Pink Princess cuttings has made its price go up in recent years, as high as $1,500.

    Did You Know?

    Non-variegated Philodendon erubescens have deep red flowers, which is where the Philodendron Pink Princess’s genetic mutation stems from.


  9. Variegated Monstera Deliciosa
  10. Current Value: $3,461 (NZ$4,930) (price paid at auction)
     Reason for Rarity: Difficult to cultivate variegation
    Country of Origin: Auckland, New Zealand (this particular plant)
    Scientific Name: Monstera deliciosa albo variegata
    Variegated Monstera Deliciosa
    photo source: stuff.co.nz

    In general Monstera plants seem to be selling for a quite a lot on various websites. However, this Variegated Monstera Deliciosa broke records at the time when it was sold for NZ$4,930 (about $3,461) at the beginning of 2020. The seller from Auckland New Zealand said she only expected the Variegated Monstera Deliciosa to go for NZ$2,000 (about $1,404), but it went for over double her initial estimate. For reference, standard Monstera Deliciosa plants typically sell for about $20 – $60.

    Did You Know?

    Because of its signature holes, the Monstera Deliciosa’s popular nickname is the “Swiss cheese plant.”


  11. Reverse Variegated Hoya
  12. Current Value: $4,563 (NZ$6,500) (price paid at auction)
     Reason for Rarity: Difficult to cultivate variegation
    Country of Origin: Hamilton, New Zealand (this particular plant)
    Scientific Name: Hoya carnosa compacta
    Reverse Variegated Hoya
    photo source: stuff.co.nz

    Before this record was broken a few months later by another plant on this list, a Reverse Variegated Hoya sold for NZ$6,500 (about $4,563). Currently, hoyas are very popular among the plant community, but this variegation that had a cream/yellow color on the inside of the leaves attracted over 20,000 views on the trading site TradeMe. The seller described this particular variegation as “not commonly see,” which only increased people’s desire for the plant.

    Did You Know?

    According to plant enthusiasts, keeping a Hoya in a small pot encourages the plant to flower quicker.


  13. Gold of Kinabalu Orchid
  14. Current Value: $5,000 per stem (reported price paid on the black market)
     Reason for Rarity: Only about 50 mature individuals left in the wild
    Country of Origin: Kinabalu National Park, Malaysia
    Scientific Name: Paphiopedilum rothschildianum
    Gold of Kinabalu Orchid
    photo source: Wikimedia Commons


    The Gold of Kinabalu Orchid or Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid is unfortunately a critically endangered species. However, this doesn’t stop avid plant collectors from seeking out the Gold of Kinabalu Orchid and stems can go for as much as $5,000 on the black market. The Gold of Kinabalu Orchid is a protected species that only grows on Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia. Although it is absolutely illegal to pick the Gold of Kinabalu Orchid, smugglers do sometimes manage to steal some specimens. Unfortunately, the Gold of Kinabalu is incredibly popular and prized for its beauty, which only encourages smuggling.

    Did You Know?

    The Gold of Kinabalu Orchid can take up to 15 years to bloom, which adds to its rarity.


  15. Variegated Philodendron Minima
  16. Current Value: $5,300 (NZ$8,150) (price paid at auction)
     Reason for Rarity: Difficult to cultivate variegation
    Country of Origin: Auckland, New Zealand (this particular plant)
    Scientific Name: Rhaphidophora tetrasperma
    Variegated Philodendron Minima
    photo source: The Guardian

    A few months into COVID-19 lockdowns, a Variegated Philodendron Minima sparked a bidding war on TradeMe and broke records when it was sold for a whopping NZ$8,150 (about $5,300). The unique plant was cultivated and sold by a botanist from Auckland, New Zealand. This Variegated Philodendron Minima only had four leaves, but each leaf had the yellow variegation (the leaves are typically just a bright green).

    Did You Know?

    Although the botanist showed a picture of the Variegated Philodendron Minima’s stems and said that the variegation was most likely stable and would probably produce more variegated leaves, there is always a chance that the plant might revert back to its natural non-variegated form.


  17. Monstera Obliqua
  18. Current Value: $2,500 to $8,000 (prices listed by various sellers)
     Reason for Rarity: Difficult to propagate
    Country of Origin: Central and South America
    Scientific Name: Monstera obliqua
    Monstera Obliqua
    photo source: house-plant-hobbyist.com


    Monstera have taken the internet by storm and these unique-looking plants are currently one of the most popular houseplants in the world. While most Monstera are affordable, the Monstera Obliqua is incredibly pricey and considered the rarest Monstera. The Monstera Obliqua has delicate, lace-like leaves and has more holes than typical Monstera. It is rare because its delicate leaves are so difficult to care for, which makes it hard to propagate cuttings to sell. Additionally, Monstera Obliqua grows very slowly and it takes many years for its barely-there leaves to truly develop.

    Did You Know?

    Monstera Obliqua is often confused for Monstera Adansonii, which also have larger holes than other Monstera. Unfortunately, shady sellers use this to their advantage and often try to pass of Monstera Adansonii as the Monstera Obliqua.


  19. Shenzhen Nongke Orchid
  20. Current Value: ¥1.68 million (about $202,000) (price paid at auction)
     Reason for Rarity: Completely man-made and takes years to bloom
    Country of Origin: Shenzhen, Guandong, China
    Scientific Name: N/A
    Shenzhen Nongke Orchid
    photo source: lingkarmadiun.pikiran-rakyat.com

    The Shenzhen Nongke Orchid is not available anywhere, but a specimen was sold at auction in 2005 for a 1.68 million Yuan (about $202,000), making it the most valuable and rarest houseplant in the world. Understandably, not much is publicly known about the Shenzhen Nongke Orchid as it’s creation is a closely guarded secret. This rare plant is completely man-made and was in development for eight years by agricultural researchers of the Shenzhen Nongke Group.

    In addition to being pretty impossible to find, adding to the Shenzhen Nongke Orchid’s rarity is the fact that it only blooms every 4 – 5 years! Reportedly some people also received seeds for the Shenzhen Nongke Orchid and are selling them, but you can’t just find any with a simple google search.

    Did You Know?

    According to some sources, the Shenzhen Nongke Orchid has a delicate and lovely taste.

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