Single houseplant sells for £14,000 after frenzied online bidding war

Bidding on rare varieties of plants has gone up exponentially since May 2019, said the spokesperson of the New Zealand auction website

Namita Singh
Monday 14 June 2021 12:56 BST
<p>Rhaphidophora Tetrasperm for auction on Trade Me</p>

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperm for auction on Trade Me

A rare houseplant with just nine leaves sold on a New Zealand auction site for a record-breaking £14,000.

The week-long frenzied bids on the very rare white variegated Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma closed on Sunday night as a bidder tagged as “meridianlamb” successfully fought “foliage_patch” to take the plant home.

The spokesperson of the website, Trade Me, told CNN that it was the most expensive houseplant they had ever sold.

“After a heated bidding war in the auction’s final minutes, the rare plant had over 102,000 views and more than 1,600 watchlists, which just goes to show how much Kiwis adore houseplants,” said Millie Silvester in a statement.

She said that the average price of an indoor houseplant has gone up since May 2019 with the bids on rare varieties plants going up exponentially.

“Houseplants have become the ‘it’ item over the last couple of years. We’ve seen prices creep up and up as more [New Zealanders] jump on this new trend,” she added.

According to the description on the website, the plant has: “8 leaves with the 9th just about to uncurl. Each leaf has excellent variegation as does the stem and is well rooted in a 14cm pot.”

This is not the first time that Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, also known as Mini Monstera, was sold at such a high price on the website. Earlier in August 2020, an anonymous buyer had paid £3,756 for the plant on the same website.

Native to Southern Thailand and Malaysia, it was the plant’s variegation-- that is the different colours in the leaves of the plant from the cell mutation-- that caused the prices to spike.

According to the website, Garden Beast, the plant, first discovered by a British botanist named Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1893, thrives in bright indirect sunlight and can grow as tall as 12 feet.

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