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Social media fame comes at a cost, even for plants

Heather Arndt Anderson  – January 30, 2020 | Updated February 24, 2020

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but Swiss cheese plant (aka Monstera deliciosa) is having a serious moment right now. It has its own Instagram hashtag, even though this houseplant has been an indoor jungle staple for decades. 

Monstera is perfect for the Instagram era, partially because it provides instant gratification, quickly growing from a heart-shaped baby to an imposing plant with deep lobes and Swiss cheese holes. With a sunny window and regular watering, it gets huge—and quickly. 

So why does this plant run anywhere from $11 for a single leaf cutting to $130 for a plant in a 9.5-inch plastic pot? We chatted with Jesse Waldman of Pistils Nursery in Portland, who has a lot to say on the subject. 

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 “There’s a messy supply chain with lots of layers of growers and brokers,” Waldman explains. One grower might produce a 4-inch pot that is sold to a grower who then takes it up to a 6-inch or gallon size, with prices increasing exponentially along the way. 

And, yes, social media is to blame. “It’s the hashtag,” sighs Waldman. “People come into Pistils literally holding up their phone with an Instagram post showing the plant they want.” And that newbie audience is willing to pay big for the big plant. 

But monstera’s fast-growing nature is where a plant shopper can save money. Buy one size smaller than you’re tempted to. Water it well and give it enough light and love, and you’ll have avoided some of the popularity tax that comes with monstera madness.