30 Rare and Unusual Houseplants To Add to Your Wishlist

Forget all you knew about the humble houseplant – these arresting, rare beauties are true unicorns in the world of greenery thanks to their dazzling color changes, unique textures, and distinctive shaping.

Here are 30 exotic plants you may just fall in love with…

1. Shenzhen Nongke Orchid

Developed in a lab for almost 10 years at South China’s Shenzhen Nongke University, this was originally auctioned off in 2005 for 1.68 million Yuan ($260,768)!

Its elegant purple-and-green petal display takes up to 5 years to bloom!

  • Common name: Orchidaceae ‘Shenzhen Nongke’
  • Average size: 10-20 inches tall, 6-12 inch spread
  • Average price: $202,000 (per stem)
  • Key feature: Deep purple & white lip, crown of green petals
  • Availability: Extremely rare

2. Monstera obliqua

The rare Monstera obliqua plant in a square wooden pot.

90% of this plant’s leaves are empty space – but don’t worry, the moth-eaten look is its natural style.

Its leaves are paper-thin delicate and will crumble unless kept in reliably high humidity. A truly ornamental plant!

Complete care info for this striking plant can be found in my article here.

  • Common name: Window-leaf Monstera
  • Average size: 3-4 feet tall, 0.5 foot spread
  • Average price: $1,000+
  • Key feature: Dramatic leaf fenestration
  • Availability: Very rare

3. Cotyledon orbiculata ‘Variegata’

This dreamy succulent from South Africa features clusters of chubby, oval leaves in pale pastel shades of blue, green, pink, and gray – though the unique selling point is the bold lipstick-red stripe lining the leaf margins.

  • Common name: Unicorn poop
  • Average size: 0.5 meters tall, 1 meter spread
  • Average price: $100-150
  • Key feature: Stubby, pastel-colored leaves
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

4. Monstera deliciosa ‘Thai Constellation’

A single leaf of the Monstera deliciosa ‘Thai Constellation’ plant on a black background.

Named for its marbled color pattern resembling a starry night sky, this large Monstera was developed in Thailand and features beautifully scattered specks of cream where its emerald-green leaves lack chlorophyll.

  • Common name: Variegated salad plant
  • Average size: 4-5 meters tall, 2 m eter spread
  • Average price: $700-800
  • Key feature: Speckled cream/green variegation
  • Availability: Very rare

5. Philodendron melanochrysum

A close-up shot of the velvet leaves of the Philodendron melanochrysum plant.

The large spade-shaped leaves of this exquisite climbing Philodendron drape in a vertical, compact form, and in the right light, these velvety leaves have a magical bronze shimmer to them.

  • Common name: Black gold Philodendron
  • Average size: 3-5 feet tall, 15 inch spread
  • Average price: $75-90
  • Key feature: Velvety green/bronze leaves
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

6. King Anthurium (Anthurium veitchii)

A challenge for boxy apartments, the show-stopping oblong leaves of this Columbian-native plant grow to reach 1 meter in length!

While prized for its king-sized crinkled foliage, this Anthurium also sports creamy-pink blooms with good care.

  • Common name: Flamingo flower
  • Average size: 1-2 meters tall, 23 inch spread
  • Average price: $120-200
  • Key feature: Oversized leaves
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

7. Queen Anthurium (Anthurium warocqueanum)

Grace your home with this Anthurium species’ long and stately heart-shaped foliage of olive green.

The prominent silvery-white vein detail creates a stunning contrast on the thick and sturdy leaves that can measure a whopping 4 feet when mature.

  • Common name: Queen Anthurium
  • Average size: 1-2 meters tall, 0.5 meter spread
  • Average price: $60-200
  • Key feature: Long green leaves with silver detail
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

8. Monstera adansonii ‘Variegata Archipelago’

Two leaves of Monstera adansonii ‘Variegata Archipelago’

This super rare Monstera cultivar from South and Central America features striking white variegation in its fenestrated heart-shaped leaves.

The whitening, due to an absence of chlorophyll in mutation, appears in streaks and in perfect solid patches.

  • Common name: Variegated Adanson’s Monstera
  • Average size: 3-5 feet tall, 2 foot spread
  • Average price: $520-1,000
  • Key feature: White/green variegation
  • Availability: Very rare

9. Variegated Philodendron Minima (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma ‘Minima’)

This highly sought-after Philodendron became the most expensive houseplant ever sold in June 2021.

Blame it on the recent plant craze and its head-turning marble foliage of solid and speckled cream and green shades.

  • Common name: Variegated mini Monstera
  • Average size: 2.5 feet tall, 1 foot spread
  • Average price: $19,297
  • Key feature: Highly variegated cream/dark green leaves
  • Availability: Extremely rare

10. Gold of Kinabalu Orchid

Dubbed the “aristocrat” among the orchid family, this plant produces around six flowers per stem, and each feature dramatic horizontal petals in both a pinstriped and spotted pattern of gold and maroon.

That’s one VIP prom corsage!

  • Common name: Rothschild’s slipper orchid
  • Average size: 1-2 feet tall, 0.5 foot spread
  • Average price: $5,000 (per stem)
  • Key feature: Striped gold/red horizontal petals
  • Availability: Very rare

11. Philodendron erubescens ‘Pink Princess’

The large, glossy leaves of this Philodendron variety almost resemble giant petals since half the plant wows with splashes of bubblegum pink.

Keeping it in bright, filtered sunshine should prevent this princess from going green.

  • Common name: Blushing Philodendron
  • Average size: 2-3 meters tall, 1 meter spread
  • Average price: $150-200
  • Key feature: Bright pink leaf variegation
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

12. Philodendron erubescens ‘White Princess’

The deep dark-green shade of this Philodendron is punctuated with snow-white speckles and solid patches that vary on each of its large oval-shaped leaves.

In some cases, subtle splashes of pink can appear – making it a tricolor plant!

  • Common name: White princess Philodendron
  • Average size: 3 meters tall, 1 meter spread
  • Average price: $200-500
  • Key feature: White/dark green & pink variegation
  • Availability: Very rare

13. Calathea fucata

Native to northern Peru, this classy houseplant makes a statement with its striped light/dark-green leaves and pretty purple undersides.

It won’t break the bank to enjoy such sophisticated greenery either.

  • Common name: Fucata prayer plant
  • Average size: 2-3 feet tall, 1-2 foot spread
  • Average price: $35-55
  • Key feature: Green/white striped foliage
  • Availability: Uncommon

14. Albuca spiralis

The top corkscrew leaves of an Albuca spiralis plant.

If you like minimalist plants with added quirk, this spiraling succulent from South Africa fits the bill.

Its tall bright-green stalks grow from a single bulb and form tight pig-tail coils at the top. This even produces vanilla-scented flowers too! See my Frizzle Sizzle Full Care Guide for more info.

  • Common name: Frizzle sizzle
  • Average size: 6-8 inches tall, 6 inch spread
  • Average price: $15-25
  • Key feature: Spiraled, curly foliage
  • Availability: Uncommon

15. Monstera obliqua ‘Peru’

A Monstera obliqua ‘Peru’ on blue-gray background.

This Peruvian variety of the Monstera obliqua plant is even more delicate and punctured than the original M. obliqua species.

These true Peru cultivars are intensely perforated, and the stem cuttings alone can set you back $150!

  • Common name: Peruvian swiss cheese plant
  • Average size: 4 feet tall, 0.5 foot spread
  • Average price: $1,000-1,200
  • Key feature: Delicate, heavily perforated leaves
  • Availability: Very rare

16. Reverse Variegated Hoya (Hoya carnosa compacta)

The twisted stems and foliage of the Hoya carnosa compacta plant.

Looking like the Rapunzel of houseplants, the characterful twisted vines of this attractive Hoya variety spill over pots and hanging baskets in tight curls and display glossy leaves in varying shades of yellow, white, and green.

  • Common name: Hindu Indian rope plant
  • Average size: 3-3.5 meters tall, 6 inch spread
  • Average price: $40-60
  • Key feature: Tightly-curled variegated leaves
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

17. Monstera deliciosa ‘Albo Variegata’

The rare Monstera Albo in a red planter on a wood floor viewed from above.

This deliciously low-maintenance Monstera cultivar steals hearts with its combo of large tropical leaves with decorative white variegation, which can appear marbled or cover entire leaf halves – earning it the nickname “half moon.”

Learn the reasoning behind the high prices in my article here.

  • Common name: Half moon Monstera
  • Average size: 4-5 meters tall, 1.5 meter spread
  • Average price: $250-500
  • Key feature: Bold white variegated leaves
  • Availability: Very rare

18. Hoya callistophylla

This climbing Hoya plant native to Borneo features thick, lance-shaped leaves with a highly defined pattern of dark green vein detail.

With great care, this will also send out cute white star-shaped blooms.

  • Common name: Stiff-leaved Hoya
  • Average size: 3-5 meters tall, 0.5 meter spread.
  • Average price: $50-80
  • Key feature: Prominent vein pattern
  • Availability: Uncommon

19. Calathea ornata

Two Calathea ornata plants in pots - one large and one small.

Ornate by name and nature, this Calathea has elegant pencil-thin or “pin” white striping detail on its large oval leaves – smart enough for the office and stylish enough for a statement piece in the entryway.

  • Common name: Pinstripe plant
  • Average size: 3 feet tall, 3 foot spread
  • Average price: $35-60
  • Key feature: Thin white leaf striping
  • Availability: Uncommon

20. Alocasia azlanii

A real jewel in the crown, this stunning Alocasia plant variety reminds you it’s alive with lightning-esque pinkish-red veins running through its glossy, deep purple leaves – painting a stormy night sky in your plant pot!

  • Common name: Red mambo jewel Alocasia
  • Average size: 1.9 feet tall, 1 foot spread
  • Average price: $150-200
  • Key feature: Dark purple leaves
  • Availability: Very rare

21. Hoya wayetii ‘Variegata’

A Hoya wayetii ‘Variegata’ in a planter that looks like a pig.

A compact, beautiful houseplant, this vine from the Philippines has narrow, elongated leaves with dark green margins and centers that vary from cream and yellow to light green and even blush pink.

  • Common name: Variegated string bean Hoya
  • Average size: 2.5 feet, 1.3 foot spread
  • Average price: $50-75
  • Key feature: Long, variegated leaves
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

22. Echeveria ‘Lola’

Close-up look at the rare Echeveria ‘Lola’.

Is it a plant? Is it a flower? This romantic succulent variety appears to be both with its thick, soft leaves formed in a perfect rosette shape.

The icing on the cake is the faint purple-pink blush on the leaves’ outer edges.

  • Common name: Lola succulent
  • Average size: 3-6 inches tall, 6 inch spread
  • Average price: $15-20
  • Key feature: Cupped rosette leaves
  • Availability: Uncommon

23. Calathea veitchiana ‘Flamestar’

A Calathea veitchiana ‘Flamestar’ in a red pot placed in a corner by a blinded window.

Invite the tropical rainforest vibes of Brazil into your corner space with this boldly patterned Calathea variety.

Its large, bright-green leaves feature almost painted brush strokes of lime green along the veining for a stylish, exotic statement.

  • Common name: Flamestar Calathea
  • Average size: 1.5 feet tall, 1 foot wide
  • Average price: $40-60
  • Key feature: Striking lime-green striping
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

24. Syngonium podophyllum “Albo-Variegatum’

Syngonium podophyllum “Albo-Variegatum’ in a light-blue planter.

This attractive, fast-grower features arrow-shaped deep green leaves variegated in streaks and solid sections of cream and white.

It begins to vine as it ages, so enjoy its sprawling leaves from a high shelf or hanging basket.

  • Common name: Arrowhead vine
  • Average size: 1 foot long, 0.5 foot spread
  • Average price: $60-100
  • Key feature: Marbled cream/green leaves
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

25. Hoya australis ‘Lisa’

Hoya australis ‘Lisa’ viewed from above.

Credited with kickstarting the variegated Hoya craze, this vine plant has rounded, glossy leaves of yellow and pink blush growing on long elegant stems – watch them trail or flaunt the foliage in fancy wreath frames.

  • Common name: Australian wax vine
  • Average size: 10 feet tall, 15 inch spread
  • Average price: $40-65
  • Key feature: Yellow/pink leaf variation
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

26. Calathea orbifolia

A Calathea orbifolia plant viewed from above against a black background.

Native to Bolivia, this low-maintenance Calathea is a pleasing sight with its graceful pattern of broad silvery stripes sweeping across its round, lustrous light green leaves. A must-have for your meditation room!

  • Common name: Orbifolia prayer plant
  • Average size: 1 meter tall, 0.9 foot spread
  • Average price: $40-80
  • Key feature: Large leaves with silver striping
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

27. Philodendron gloriosum

A Philodendron gloriosum plant with heart-shaped velvet leaves sitting on concrete floor.

Originating in Columbia, this sensational Philodendron hybrid steals focus in every room with its colossal heart-shaped leaves and bold white veining in stunning contrast to its emerald green shade.

Gloriosum indeed!

(Be sure to check with our Complete Care Guide for this plant to ensure success.)

  • Common name: Velvet Philodendron
  • Average size: 2.5 feet tall, 1.25 foot spread
  • Average price: $200-350
  • Key feature: Large statement foliage
  • Availability: Very rare

28. Monstera deliciosa ‘Sport Variegata’

If you support green team colors, this cheerful sport-green Monstera plant will fit right in with the décor.

Its large, fenestrated leaves delight with subtle varying shades of lime, sage, and grass-green as it ages.

  • Common name: M. deliciosa sport green
  • Average size: 4 meters tall, 1.5 foot spread
  • Average price: $150-200
  • Key feature: Variegated green leaves
  • Availability: Very rare

29. Monstera deliciosa ‘Borsigiana Aurea’

Larfe yellow-and-green leaves of Monstera deliciosa ‘Borsigiana Aurea’.

Native to the rainforests of Central America, this captivating Monstera variety produces varying degrees of yellow variegation in its olive-green leaves – combining blocks of color with sketchy, marbled hues to stunning effect.

  • Common name: Variegated split-leaf Philodendron
  • Average size: 2 meters tall, 1-2 meter spread
  • Average price: $500-1,000
  • Key feature: Yellow variegated foliage
  • Availability: Very rare

30. Tillandsia funckiana ‘Recurvifoli’

This small spiky-leaved plant from Venezuela produces silvery pine needle-like foliage that bends backward or “recurves” with growth.

As an air plant, it won’t need soil to survive – making it ideal for the lazier plant parents among us!

  • Common name: Funckiana air plant
  • Average size: 5-10 inches long, 1.5 inch spread
  • Average price: $15-35
  • Key feature: Backward curving pine-like leaves
  • Availability: Somewhat rare

Conclusion 

To summarize, each of these pricey plants is a collector’s dream due to their strange growth habits, bizarre leaf shapes, and extraordinary color variations.

Remember that a super-rare plant is for keeps – not just for Christmas, so if you have the budget to provoke some serious houseplant envy in your guests, give these ornamental beauties the care they need to succeed.

Image credits: Rare Succulent Manila, Hibiscus cz, Paul Gellatly, The Curious Seedling, Flordeliz Lao Sumalpong, We Plant Americas