I’m now the proud owner of a trendy houseplant | Here’s why they’re in such high demand.

Today I made a very exciting plant purchase. If you’re like me and follow a lot of “plant people” on social media, you’ve seen gorgeous rare houseplants on so many people’s wishlist. Gone are the days where anthuriums are just for beautiful flowers – now people know about the incredible foliage on the rarer species in the genus!

I was looking to dabble into the world of trendy houseplants without buying something really high maintenance. Philodendron is a great plant genus that’s usually a winner for indoor growing. Anthuriums can be tricky, but there are a few species that make good indoor houseplants. With all of this considered, I decided to buy an Anthurium crystallinum, Philodendron tortum, and Philodendron Ring of Fire. I plan on keeping the philodendrons out on my porch during the summer and maybe bringing the Anthurium outside occasionally so it can experience some high humidity days and rain water. I am going to treat these like I do every other houseplant. This way I’ll truly see if they’re finicky or low maintenance.

From left to right: Anthurium crystallinum, Philodendron “Ring of Fire”, Philodendron tortum.

Anthurium crystallinum

Anthurium crystallinum is beyond gorgeous. The foliage pattern is a work of art and if you look closely, you’ll see sparkles within the leaf veins. This plant can’t handle direct light, although mine will receive some bright morning sunlight right against my north facing window. I am going to plant it in a mix of sphagnum moss and peat moss.

What I’m most excited for: New leaves! I can’t wait to see what this plant looks like when it’s full. It’s a show stopper even with just 3 leaves

My biggest concern: Can I meet its humidity requirements indoors? I plan on bringing it outside throughout the summer so it can get the humidity it needs, but winter in South Carolina is dry. I feel there may be a point in my life where I am literally taking a shower with this plant – I wish I was kidding! (Would anyone even be surprised?)

Philodendron tortum

This plant instantly grabbed my attention because its foliage looks like a palm tree. It’s also known as a skeleton philodendron – which I personally don’t think is very flattering. Let’s call it a palm tree philodendron (or perhaps by it’s botanical name, Philodendron tortum!). It’s a climbing plant, but it seems to stay relatively small, at least for a while.

What I’m most excited for: A “palm tree look” without the palm tree size! There are very few plants that can replicate lacy palm fronds and stay tiny. This plant will look amazing on the windowsill and right on my patio table during the summer months.

My biggest concern: Will it be happy in regular potting mix? I am considering splurging on a specially developed philodendron mix. You can find these soil mixes online from various sources, and it might be worth the extra money. Time will tell!

Philodendron “Ring of Fire”

I actually didn’t intend to by this plant. I had an Anthurium warocqueanum in my hand when I looked down and realized that was going to be a huge pain to keep alive. One of the nursery staff saw me put the Anthurium down and said “I thought you were going to pick up the ring of fire”. Of course I couldn’t ignore what fate had in store and decided to give this beauty a try.

What I’m excited for: This plant fills my appetite for variegated foliage patterns (and then some). The new leaves emerge with reddish and pink tones, which is why it’s given the nickname “ring of fire”. It seems to be a large and vigorous grower. I LOVE obnoxious big plants. If that means I can’t have company in my living room, so be it! My plants are all the company I need.

My biggest concern: I don’t have one yet. That’s actually what I’m most worried about. Is this plant going to be more difficult than I’m anticipating? We’ll find out together!

I’m far from a plant newbie, but the trendy houseplant world is definitely new to me – and to the world. I remember buying my first plant when I was just 8 years old. It was a Dracaena fragrans (corn plant) and nearly 20 years later, that same plant is still alive and well at my parents house. To this day, I think of all the fun I had choosing plants with my grandma, but in the year 2021, the hobby has also been adopted by plenty of my peers. Millennials have made houseplants cool – and their popularity is soaring to record levels. Look at the google search trend for the three plant species I purchased. Few if any people were interested in googling them prior to about 2019. Their popularity skyrocketed after April 2020, and has remained high ever since. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge influence on the houseplant hobby and gardening in general.

Google trend for Anthurium crystallinum, Philodendron “Ring of Fire”, and Philodendron tortum.

My favorite thing about gardening is how accessible it is to anyone. You can start a garden without any money at all, and it’ll be beautiful. However, if you’re looking for a plant in short supply with huge demand, it will cost you a lot! On eBay, the most expensive plant cuttings go for more than $3000. (We’re talking unrooted stems here!). To make matters even worse, there are a lot of plant scammers out there online, so do your research.

Would you rather a house plant or a downpayment on a house? Decisions, Decisions! These are legitimate plant auctions on eBay. Yikes!

When demand was lower, these plants were a lot less expensive. I remember at a Rutgers plant sale (my alma mater) in 2015, there was a beautiful variegated Monstera for around $50. Anthurium clarinervium was only $10 at that sale – now they’re worth more than $100! The day will come when a variegated Monstera isn’t going to cost $600! Many of these plants are pretty easy to propagate so in a few years, I do think supply will catch up and prices will drop. Philodendron burkin is a prime example. The plant was very difficult to find a few years ago, but it’s available in Lowes now. I do think the popularity of plants in the pandemic will continue to push prices up. There are more people buying plants than ever. There’s a lot of power in patience when it comes to gardening. If you don’t have the money for the plant you want now – just bookmark that web page and come back to it in a few years!

“Rutgers Day” Plant Sale on Cook Campus. April 2015.

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