Aussie woman's $1,200 find amongst $30 Bunnings items: 'Such a fluke'

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screenshot of a variegated monstera plant from tiktok
22-year-old Melbournian Elsie Bishop lucked out when she found a variegated monstera plant disguised among the regular monsteras at her local Bunnings. Photo: TikTok/elsiebishop

A Melbourne woman has struck plant lover’s gold at her local Bunnings.

Elsie Bishop picked up what she thought was a regular monstera deliciosa plant for $30 from the warehouse chain, but on closer inspection, found the new leaves are actually variegated - a rare quality that sharply increases the value of the plant.

In fact, the 22-year-old estimates the find could be worth over a grand, saying on TikTok, “when your $30 Bunnings monstera turns out to be a super rare $1,200 plant”.

Variegated monsteras can be hard to come by and their value can skyrocket at times when demand way outstrips supply. Prices also vary depending on what type of variegation the plant has and whether it’s sold as a mature plant, small established plant or just a leaf cutting.

A Perth woman told Gardening Australia last year that she bought a leaf cutting of a mostly white, variegated monstera adansonii - which is a smaller version of the more commonly known monstera deliciosa with more holes through the leaves - for no less than $4,500.

A leaf cutting of a variegated monstera adansonii
A leaf cutting of this variegated monstera adansonii cost a Perth plant enthusiast $4,500. Now, you can find them on eBay for around $450. Photo: Gardening Australia
potted monstera Albo Borsigiana for sale on eBay
This established monstera Albo Borsigiana is currently taking bids of over $1,800 on eBay. Photo: eBay

Elsie herself is quite familiar with variegated monsteras and actually owns a small plant business in Melbourne from which she’s previously sold a variegated monstera for $1,500.

There are a few different types of variegated monstera deliciosas including the Borsigiana Aurea, which is characterised by yellow streaks and is what Elsie found disguised as a regular monstera at Bunnings, the Borsigiana Albo, which has a large and very white variegation, and the Thai Constellation, which has more creamy coloured streaks through the leaves.

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Prices are greatly influenced by supply and demand, but currently on eBay you can find a small rooted Borsigiana Albo cutting starting at around $400, and an established Borsigiana Aurea for between $750 and $1,500, meanwhile Flower Power sells an 1800mm Thai Constellation monstera for $600.

Elsie has previously bought a variegated Thai Constellation monstera for $400. Photo: TikTok/greenenvy.co
Elsie has previously bought a variegated Thai Constellation monstera for $400. Photo: TikTok/greenenvy.co
Elsie owns small Melbourne plant shop Green Envy and knows a thing or two about monsteras. Photo: TikTok/elsiebishop
Elsie owns small Melbourne plant shop Green Envy and knows a thing or two about monsteras. Photo: TikTok/elsiebishop

After posting about her lucky get on TikTok, Elsie got lots of comments from people saying the variegation may not take hold or could be a disease rather than an actual mutation, but Elsie is sure she’s onto a winner.

“You know it’s [the variegation is] stable when the coloured streaks are going up the stem as well,” she explained in a comment, adding that it’s definitely not mealy bugs or mosaic virus as others suggested.

“It’s a genetic deformity that can naturally occur so the growers must not have noticed,” she said, describing her find as “such a fluke” as the plant was hidden amongst all the regular monsteras.

Apparently hunting for rare monsteras hidden among the regular ones is a thing, as a few people commented that they’ve been scouring Bunnings for ages trying to find exactly what Elsie did. However, she says that her case was complete chance and she only noticed that the lower leaves were variegated after she brought the plant home.

welcome to the jungle book
If unique plants are your thing, you may like this book that looks into rare tropical house plants. Photo: Amazon Australia

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