By Erin Marissa Russell
Whether you’re shopping for a centerpiece for your houseplant collection or you’re simply curious about rare plants, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this list of rare houseplants.
Albuca Frizzle Sizzle (Albuca Spiralis ‘Frizzle Sizzle’)
This plant gets its playful name from the curlicues of foliage that spiral from the top of each stem. The leaves may turn brown when the plant’s flowers appear in the springtime. To deter this, just use a clean, sterile pair of gardening shears to clip off the flower spikes when they appear.
Albuca Frizzle Sizzle needs to get plenty of light, so for best results, find it a space near a south-facing window. Frizzle Sizzle is happiest when you allow the soil to dry out in between watering sessions.
There’s a simple test you can do to check the soil moisture. Just stick a finger down into the soil, an inch or two deep. Does it feel damp? Does the dirt cling to your skin? If the answer to either question is yes, the soil is still moist and you do not need to water your plant yet. Wait until the earth is dry to your touch and does not stick to your skin before watering your Albuca Frizzle Sizzle.
Banana Shrub (Michelia Figo, Magnolia Figo)
The Banana Shrub doesn’t produce bananas, isn’t related to the plant that does produce bananas, and doesn’t even have yellow flowers. It got its name because the blossoms, which resemble miniature magnolias, smell just like bananas.
For success with Banana Shrubs, provide the plants with lots of light. A south-facing window is best, though you can use an east-facing or west-facing window if needed. This plant is susceptible to root rot and fungal diseases, so make sure to give the plants excellent drainage, and let the soil dry out completely between waterings.
Black Bat Flower (Tacca Chantrieri)
One of the stateliest rare flowers, black bat flower is a true black (which is also one of the rarest colors in the garden). A pointed black fan spreads out behind the blossoms and long tendrils, which droop gracefully toward the ground. There is also a white bat flower, Tacca integrifolia.
Keep black bat flower in a place that doesn’t get colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure not to let black bat flower get direct sunlight. In fact, this is a great plant for low light environments like north-facing windows. Black bat flowers are sensitive to overwatering, so don’t forget to let the soil dry out before you water it again.
Black Gold Philodendron (Philodendron Melanochrysum, Philodendron ‘Black Gold’)
The leaves of black gold philodendron resemble miniature versions of some of the dark green elephant ears. However, “miniature” is relative to the elephant ear plant’s enormous size. The black gold philodendron is a respectable height itself, with mature specimens measuring up to three feet tall. The leaves of black gold philodendrons can get up to about three feet long on their own. When the leaves are new, they are a deep green that is almost black. As they grow, they lighten into deep green veined with yellow.
Find black gold philodendrons a spot where they will get bright indirect light. Direct sunlight is too much for these plants, which need partial to full shade. Black gold philodendrons also need a stake or support to twine and climb up.
Desert Rose (Adenium Obesum)
As the name suggests, desert rose is a flowering plant from the desert. It has a substantial central trunk, green leaves, and when it blossoms, flowers come in shades of pink, white, and scarlet. The blossoms last for a long time on the plant—up to several weeks. Just like with roses, the trunk and stems of the desert rose are covered in thorns. However, while a rose produces smooth thorns, those of the desert rose are fuzzy.
As a desert plant, the desert rose likes to dry out in between watering sessions. It prefers to grow in full sun but if necessary will tolerate growing in partial shade.
‘Gloriosum’ Philodendron (Philodendron Gloriosum)
The Gloriosum philodendron is known for its hulking mature size as well as for its velvety heart-shaped leaves. Each gorgeous leaf is a deep, dark green with beautiful white veining. The leaves alone can reach up to 18 inches long and a foot wide, while the whole plant can reach a mature height of up to three feet.
This is a plant that likes to spread out, so make sure to find it a spot where it will have room to stretch out wide. The Gloriousum philodendron likes to get some direct sunlight, so a south-facing window is best. Water the plant only once the top inch of its soil has dried out, which you can easily check with a finger in the pot.
King Anthurium (Anthurium Veitchii)
The foliage of Anthurium veitchii is bright jungle green and ruffled as though there’s a gather in each leaf’s main central stem. The pretty little plant hasn’t been available through wholesalers, instead being sold by private sellers.
When taken care of properly, Anthurium veitchii can reach a height of up to two feet tall. It prefers a semi-shaded environment of partial sunlight. You should avoid giving Anthurium veitchii too much sun, especially in the summer. The foliage can be scorched with sunscald otherwise. This tropical plant thrives in moist environments, so give it plenty of water as well as an occasional misting.
‘Milk Confetti’ Syngonium (Syngonium Podophyllum)
The Milk Confetti Syngonium has speckled leaves in faded pastel pink and green with white. The plants can eventually reach up to five feet tall. It’s an easy plant to take care of that makes a good option for beginning gardeners.
Milk Confetti Syngonium plants need bright, indirect light or partial shade. Water the plant only once the top inch of the soil has dried out. This Syngonium thrives in humid conditions, so you should mist it occasionally.
There are plenty of rare Monstera varieties, but this one is considered the very rarest. The plant is listed at prices from $2,500 to $8,000 because of the difficulty involved in propagating it. Monstera obliqua has leaves peppered with holes for a lacy-looking appearance.
Monstera obliqua is a very slow-growing plant, which only adds to its rarity and the difficulty of propagating it. The other part of its difficulty comes from caring for the leaves with their barely-there foliage. It’s very difficult to care for a stem cutting when the leaves are so delicate.
This Monstera variety is often confused with Monstera Adansonii. Disreputable sellers may take advantage of this fact and label the less rare and pricey Monstera Adansonii as Monstera Obliqua. The Monstera Adansonii does have holes in its leaves, but not as many as Monstera Obliqua.
Night Blooming Jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)
Night Blooming Jasmine is a joy to grow, with its small star-shaped white flowers that open at night to release lots of heady jasmine fragrance. Even when it’s not blooming, the glossy green leaves of Night Blooming Jasmine make it a gorgeous houseplant.
Do let the soil dry out in between waterings. However, Night Blooming Jasmine is a thirsty plant that will benefit from deep watering. When you give a plant deep watering, you keep adding water until the moisture begins to drip from the container’s drainage holes.
Polka Dot Begonia (Begonia Maculata)
The foliage of the Polka Dot Begonia is truly beautiful. The leaves are olive green flecked with silvery white polka dots and a red underside.
Like most begonias, this plant doesn’t require a ton of sunshine. You can find it a spot in an east-facing or west-facing window. It’s easy to overwater the Polka Dot Begonia, so make sure not to water the plant until its soil has dried out completely.
Queen Anthurium (Anthurium Warocqueanum)
The Queen Anthurium is a dramatic rare houseplant with velvety dark greenish black leaves brushed with pale green markings at the veins. The leaves are long and pointed with a divot in the top, like an elongated heart shape. It’s rare because it’s not been available at nurseries or garden centers, with shoppers going online to find their specimens. Although Queen Anthurium seldom blooms indoors, if the white blossoms do appear it will be during the spring or summer.
Queen Anthuriums can reach heights of up to three feet tall, with the leaves measuring nearly that long. They thrive in humid environments, in the indirect brightness of medium light to semi shade. Water your Queen Anthurium every other week.
Twisted Cactus (Cereus Forbesii Spiralis)
In addition to its pleasing shape, you’ll love the Twisted Cactus for its blue-green color and the white or pink flowers it occasionally produces. It really does spiral in on itself, creating a twisted vertical shape like a spiral staircase. This type of cactus can grow to a height of one foot to 18 inches. You’re unlikely to find this variety at your nursery or garden center, but it is usually available from sellers on Etsy.
Like most cacti, the Twisted Cactus needs bright sunlight to thrive, but not too much direct sunlight. Water whenever the soil has dried enough that it is dry to the touch. Plant in a soil mix designed for cacti or create your own with one part coarse sand, one part perlite, and one part potting soil.
Although locating these rare houseplants can take a bit of work, they’re so beautiful and fun to grow that it’s worth the initial investment of time, energy, and money it takes to find and procure them. Just choose your favorite (or favorites) from this list, and you’ll soon have an unusual and unique addition to your houseplant collection. Happy growing!
Learn More About Growing Rare Houseplants
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