Monstera. Philodendron. Syngonium. Not long ago, these words would be Greek to common language, but today they are codewords–cyphered passwords that are the secret language of plant devotees.
Whispers of a new variety of Monstera–broad leaves with unique ‘leaf fenestrations’ that are thought to be an evolutionary mechanism to capture scattered sunflecks under a shady rainforest canopy–can send this group of adherents in a tizzy. Lovingly posed photos of the impressive Philodendron Pink Princess–startling in its abrupt rosiness–can attract the same scrutiny and admiration as a Monet or a Rothko.
Welcome to the world of plant collection in Malaysia. Once the bastion of a small dedicated population of plant lovers, the community has amplified in size since 2020, as lockdowns steered homebound individuals towards new hobbies. Amplified by social media and assisted by the proliferation of online trading platforms, plant collection has been elevated to a fashionable trend.
But more than just a collection of verdant pots to brighten up increasingly familiar four walls, there are those that delve deeper into this jungle, building up impressive collections of uncommon and even rare plants that fetch a cachet in the public domain.
This can translate into the monetary, where sought-after varieties of specific plants can exchange hands for eye-watering sums. Forget Bitcoin or NFTs; plants can be worth more than their weight in gold. What drives this and how will this evolve?