These Unique Variegated Plants are so Rare They Cost up to $45,000
Indoor variegated plants play a major role in interior design and can bring any space to life. But how much are you willing to spend on a rare plant? For plant collectors or people who simply love rare things, variegated plants offer rare and unique beauty worth tens of thousands of dollars. Some more common variegated plants range from $20 to $250, while rare variegated plants can range anywhere from $1,000 to $45,000. These rare variegated plants are hard to find and are typically found from specialized sellers on Etsy, eBay, and niche shops like the Rare Plant Fairy and Bumble Plants.
Intrigued? Read on to learn more about variegated plants, what makes some so rare, and browse a curated collection of unique variegated plants.
What are variegated plants?
Variegated plants have two or more colors on the leaves due to the variation of pigmentation such as chlorophyll across the leaf’s surface. They get their color combination and patterns through genetic or cell mutations. Variegated plants have leaves that come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. These plants range from striped, blotched, or bordered leaf patterns that give them their name, uniqueness, and complexity.
How do plants become variegated?
A plant’s variegation can be inherited (genetic) or occur randomly (chimeric). With inherited variegation, the genetic mutation is stable and will be passed on from plant to plant. Chimeric variation is caused by cell mutation due to a sudden change in a plant’s chemical makeup. This causes two different chromosomal make-ups in a single plant where chlorophyll-filled cells and non-chlorophyll cells compete for placement on the leaf which results in leaves with two or more different colorations (green and white, yellow, mint, or any other color). This mutation is unstable and can potentially be reversed over time.
Why are some variegated plants so rare and expensive?
Some variegated plants are rare because the chance of successfully creating them is 1 in 100,000. Only certain plants with chimeral variegation can be propagated successfully from stem cuttings, and no chimera will exhibit the same variegation just from root cuttings, leaf cuttings, or seeds. This means that opportunities for propagating this type of variegated plant are limited, and often unsuccessful. With such rarity comes a hefty price tag with variegated plants ranging from $100 to upwards of $45,000.
Types of Variegated Plants
Variegated plants vary in price depending on rarity, uniqueness, and complexity.
Price Range: $2,500 to $20,000
The Philodendron Billietiae is a rare variegated plant with an orange stem along with green and white stripes. It is native to Brazil and has a tough, waxy texture. The leaves are glossy, leathery, and have thick stalks that are long, narrow, and pointed at the end. The leaves are also shiny on top but rough on the bottom side. The average price of a variegated Philodendron Billietiae ranges from $2,500 to $20,000 as recorded in 2022. This plant is also high maintenance in terms of its care and propagation because it requires strict light and humidity requirements. It already has low chlorophyll which is why it has to be under direct sunlight for it to grow at a normal rate.
Philodendron Caramel Marble
Price Range: $3,000 to $45,000
Philodendron Caramel Marble is a special plant that has leaves with a mixture of green and yellow. It is one of the most scarce plant species in the world.
The Philodendron Caramel Marble plant is also known as Philodendron selloum, Philodendron xanadu, and Philodendron xanthosoma. This plant is native to Brazil and Argentina, but it can be found in many other countries as well. The leaves of this plant are green on the top side and yellow on the bottom side, which makes this type of philodendron unique from other types of plants. Philodendron Caramel Marble is a variegated plant that is rare to find not because of its leaves, but because of its diversity in colors and complexities. The average cost of this scarce plant is around $40,000 for premium grade quality. This species requires partial sunlight instead of direct rays. Since its growth rate is very slow, you will need assistance to maintain its optimum growth temperature and humidity.
Price Range: $1,200 to $30,000
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, also known as Monstera minima, minima Monstera, mini Monstera, Philodendron minima, Philodendron Ginny or Philodendron Piccolo, is a beautiful houseplant. Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma has green leaves with cream to white marbling, streaks, blotches, and sectors. Some plants have half-moon leaves, and others are almost entirely white or cream. The albo variegation occurs due to cell mutation that makes the white or cream sectors unable to produce chlorophyll. The price range for Variegated Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma starts at around $1,200 and can be upwards of $20,000 depending on quality.
Monstera Albo Variegata
Price Range: $200 to $6,000
The Monstera Albo Variegata is a rare plant that is native to the rain forests of Central America, as well as Southern Mexico. This plant has an attractive and unique variegated pattern on its leaves. The white stripes and splashes found throughout the leaves are parts of the plant that do not contain chlorophyll. These sections are parts of the plant with mutated cells and do not allow sunlight to be absorbed. The price range for Monstera Albo Variegata can range from $200 to over $5,000.
Stromanthe Sanguinea Tricolor
Price Range: $30 to $100
This variegated plant belongs to the prayer plant family that is native to the rain forests of Brazil. It is less expensive than the other variegated plants but has more color features. As its name suggests, the plant has around three different colors that give it a very interesting and unique appearance. Like many of the other variegated plants discussed, the different variations of chlorophyll pigmentation result in its tropical and exotic appearance. While just as beautiful as the rare variegated plants featured, this plant is much more affordable due to its accessibility with prices ranging from $30 to $100.
Philodendron Florida Beauty
Price Range: $60 to $1,000
This variegated plant is a cross between a Philodendron pedatum and Philodendron squamiferum which makes this plant quite rare. The Florida Beauty is a climbing plant with glossy dark and light green coloring. Similar to all Philodendrons, this is an easy plant to care for, making it perfect for a plant enthusiast who wants to become a rare plant collector, but is lacking a green thumb. Its average price is upwards of $800 as its quality grade increases.
Philodendron Spiritus Santi
Price Range: $1,000 to $4,500
The variegated version of this plant is not just rare but is endangered. They are native to Espirito Santo but are slowly going extinct. These plants are collateral damage every time the population expands and clears up more space to settle. The remaining six specimens in Brazil are on a private farm that is closely guarded. There are now more plants in the hands of private collectors than in the wild which is why they are one of the most expensive variegated species within the plant kingdom. The average price is around $4,000.
Philodendron Pink Princess
Price Range: $50 to $300
This is the only plant variegation in which the leaves have the potential to be black and pink simultaneously. It is reported that one of the reasons why this plant is so special is that growers cannot guarantee if every plant of this variety will turn out to have enough pink on the green leaves to sell as a Pink Princess. The average price can start from $50 but the peak premium quality goes from around $200 to $300.