The New York Times: Four-figure price tags. Destination auctions. Yearslong wait-lists. Rare plant collectors aren’t messing around. “…Countless articles have attempted to unspool millennial motivations for loving plants: They’re a replacement for kids, a respite from urban cityscapes, a totem of climate anxiety, a life preserver to which one can cling in uncertain times, a kind of self-care. Versions of all of these sentiments were echoed at the aroid show. “It puts me in a really good head space,” said Chelsea Grace, 32, who owns a Seattle plant shop called Cultivate Propagate. “And,” she added, “as dorky as it sounds, when things put out a new leaf, it feels really constructive.” There’s also the unavoidable underbelly of any consumer bubble: hubris and hoarding, grifts and theft. There are shady sellers shilling questionable “seeds” online, rabid collectors swiping cuttings from botanical gardens and poachers ripping rare specimens out of their habitats without permits.
“Instagram has spawned a lot of people who are influencing people’s buying decisions on plants, so those plants become more scarce, and all of a sudden everyone needs one, then five, then 10, then a hundred,” said Trevor Bradshaw, 31, who works at a garden center in Nashville. “It’s crazy that you can convince someone to buy a living thing, like it’s a luxury item.” (Mr. Bradshaw said that he recently apprehended someone stealing variegated monstera cuttings from his store after they posted about the theft on Instagram.)