Between pots, plant food, and fancy gardening devices, nurturing a houseplant can get expensive fast. Recently, a bidder in New Zealand spent nearly $20,000 on a plant before taking it home. As CNN reports, the white variegated Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma sold for roughly $19,300, making it the most expensive houseplant of all time.
The “mini monstera” plant sparked a bidding war when it was listed on the New Zealand auction site Trade Me in June of 2021. In the final minutes of the auction, users foliage_patch and meridianlamb went head-to-head over the rare plant, raising the price to record-breaking levels. The battle ended with meridianlamb claiming the item for $27,100 NZD, or $19,297 USD. By the end of the auction, more than 102,000 people had viewed the listing and 1600 had saved it to their watch lists.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is a rare plant native to Southern Thailand and Malaysia. It's prized for its split, monstera-like leaves that thrive in tropical conditions. The specimen that sold in New Zealand was especially rare, with eight variegated leaves (meaning they contain multiple colors) and one new leaf about to unfurl.
This particular variegated Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is the most valuable houseplant by far, with the previous record-holder selling for $5300 in 2020. That plant belonged to the same species, and it sold in New Zealand as well. In New Zealand and around the world, houseplants have been rising in cost. When people were stuck inside their homes in 2020, interest in buying plants nearly doubled.