During the past five months, many Filipinos turned to plant-caring out of boredom, to relieve stress, and to maybe infuse their life with positivity. Plants are so big right now some people say they are the new pets. Pets that don’t run to excitedly welcome you with licks at the door but you’re addicted to them anyway.
“In my experience, once bumili ka ng isa, tuluy-tuloy na yun,” says self-confessed plant addict Marvin Braceros. “Hindi mo mapipigilan ang sarili mong bumili ulit. Before you know it, mukha ng jungle ang bahay mo.” The restaurateur-turned-plant seller is one of the owners of Respira, a plant store with three branches in Manila. His clients are mostly condominium dwellers with money to spare.
Braceros introduces me to some of the priciest greens in his stable.
A caramel marble philodrendron with three leaves can sell up to P80,000
One of the most in-demand but rare plant species in the market these days, he says, is the caramel marble philodendron—a plant with three leaves that can sell up to P80,000. Meanwhile, a white congo plant with three leaves sells at P30,000.
“Ang labanan ngayon ng value ng plant ay per leaf, hindi per plant,” he notes. “Kaya iniingatan talaga yung dahon. Kasi pag nasira ang dahon, nababawasan ang value.”
We know anthuriums for its beautiful flowers, but now there are certain types of anthuriums that are sought after for their leaves, says Bracero. He sent me a picture of a beautiful specie of anthurium whose leaves cost P8,000 each.
A variegated fiddle can cost up to P70,000, while a monstera albo can sell up to P25,000, says Bracero. The most in demand types of plants now are anything that’s variegated—meaning they exhibit different colors, especially in the form of irregular patches or streaks. “The monstera is usually green. Nagkaroon na ngayon ng white and green at yellow and green variants, yun ang mga mahal. Meron din na ang left face niya is white, the other is green,” he explains.
A five-inch philodendron with four leaves would cost about P12,500, while a five-inch variegated fiddle with three leaves can sell up to P7,000. A philodendron pink princess with two or three leaves sells at P3,500. “Napakaliitlang ng plant na yan,” Braceros notes.
A congo plant with three leaves costs P30,000
“A giant taro—pinuputol lang namin yan dati kasi kung saan-saan lang tumutubo—now sells for P10,000 to P20,000, depende sa laki,” he adds.
An avid plant collector even during the pre-pandemic period, Bracero noticed the huge price difference of the plants between now and before the March lockdown. “Sobrang laki [ng difference]! The monstera was selling for P800, now it’s selling for P8,000 to P10,000. Yung rubber plant na black prince, dati P500—actually wala pa ngang value yun dati e, hindi pinapansin, tinatabas lang yun dati sa paligid—ngayon ang one foot na black prince sells for P4,000 to P5,000.”
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A variegated fiddle can cost up to P70,000
It does seem like being a plant parent is no longer the casual, weekend hobby for some people. Braceros likens collecting plants to collecting bags. “You’d start buying a Benetton bag, then magiging Zara, magiging MK, then Tory Burch, hanggang sa maging Chanel, Valentino, at Hermes. Nagle-level up,” he observes. “Ang level ng halaman pamahal ng pamahal, at pataas din ng pataas ang demand sa market.”