Houseplant hustlers: for some people, money does grow on trees

For some hapless plant-lovers, houseplants can be a complete drain on one’s finances. Replacing dead houseplants at more than $20 a pop from your local garden center isn’t the best move for your wallet by the fifth (or sixth, or seventh, or eighth) dead fern, writes Naomii Seah with The Spinoff. So in a bid to get my houseplant fix for cheap, I turned to the favourite resource of bargain-hunters everywhere – Facebook Marketplace. After endless doomscrolling, mostly of overpriced monsteras and other huge but unaffordable mature plants, I noticed another kind of listing kept popping up: sellers advertising the most adorable wee cuttings of various species for prices starting as low as $5. 

Turns out for those who manage to keep their plants alive and thriving, houseplants can grow – pun intended – from a hobby to a full-blown income stream.

“I’m not very entrepreneurial, but I just thought, well, why not try and make [plants] a side hustle?” says Marie Knowles. “I was already taking the cuttings anyway, so with very little extra effort I could start selling them online and have a little bit of extra money coming in.” 

Knowles is a mother of two young children who currently works part-time in the marketing industry. She says she’s always loved nature and gardening, and thinks of her plants as “a way to bring nature inside”. Knowles says she’s always collected houseplants, but didn’t get serious about it until around eight years ago, when she moved back to Aotearoa from the UK to settle down. Now, she’s a self-described “plantaholic” and says her friends and family encouraged her to start sharing cuttings between them, which eventually led to Knowles selling cuttings online. 

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