Nowadays when you visit your friend’s house (or see their surroundings on a Zoom call), you see the familiars involving the plant world. Spider plants, succulents, or monsteras seem to have made their way to all houseplant shelves. Rare houseplants may seem hard to come by.
Even snake plants, Tradescantia zebrina, and Hedera helix are no longer a rare sight. Out of almost 400,000 species and counting, I am certain there will always be thousands of houseplants that come from around the world.
While we still treasure these traditional household gems such as African Violets and Christmas Cacti, if you have a giant house plant community, you may be looking for some rare houseplants.
Snake plants are propagated at a fast rate due to their popularity in today’s world.
As a caretaker of 71 houseplants, I know I certainly like to spice it up.
Below is a list of infrequently seen, rare houseplants you’ll yearn for!
1. Mimosa pudica
Otherwise known as the touch-me-not plant, this fun photosynthesizer originates from Brazil and other tropical areas. Generally, it is a woody creeping shrub, but also can be grown commercially as successful houseplants.
It is known as a member of the Fabaceae (bean) family and has a pink capitulum inflorescence. While its flowers and origins may be interesting, this plant’s showstoppers are its compound leaves.
My first experience with this plant was about 4 years ago. My agriculture teacher had a massive Mimosa pudica in a round ceramic pot. He called me into the school greenhouse and introduced me to a plant that still confuses scientists today.
Some say the plant closes its leaves when touched to conserve energy, yet it may be a possible defense maneuver as well.
I harvested hundreds of seeds from the mother plant and went along to grow a plethora of touch-me-not plants myself. Overall, the rare houseplants enjoy loam soil and don’t prefer to dry out, yet not to the point of soggy soil. Loam soil is a perfect mixture of the soil textures for optimal plant growth: sand, silt, and clay.
The pink flowers and moving leaves are what make this plant most attractive.
You have the benefit of easily growing the plant by seed and it may make an all-around great, rare attribution to your plant community.
- Loam, moist soil
- Majority direct sunlight
- Medium to large size pot
2. Pineapple Plant (Ananas comosus)
Although many pineapple plants will not produce a generous amount of fruit as rare houseplants, you may still find it fun to grow!
When I had first discovered you could grow pineapples at home, luckily the fruit was already sitting on my countertop for my eager hands. After cross-referencing sources, I asexually propagated the rare houseplant.
Now, you may ask, doesn’t everyone know what a pineapple is? How is that rare?
You may know the fruit but growing them as houseplants create an insight into the plant history, anatomy, and physiology. Plus, when I grew one, my kitties stayed away due to the crown’s sharp tips.
As far as asexual propagation, it is taking the parent material, slicing off certain parts of tissue, and putting it in a media to grow adventitious (new) growth. You can do this with the leaves, stems, roots, or many other plant parts depending on the plant.
Also, note that you can root plant material in different soil media and water as well.
In this case of asexual propagation, use the crowns of these rare houseplants.
I cut the entire crown (with a bit of the core) off the pineapple with a sharp and sterile knife. I trimmed away a few bottom leaves too. I continued by sticking the specimen in a clear cup of water. There should be space between the green part of the crown and core with no water; do not completely submerge.
After a month, I witnessed my first baby root growing from the base of the crown! The adventitious tissue may have grown out faster if I would have consistently changed the water every week.
If you try this at home, the pH of the water may cause issues for you, so be sure it is neutral at a pH of 5-7.
You will have to keep a watchful eye out for rot if you use water as the medium. The crown cutting could be rooted in soil media as well. This plant may be the introduction to a passion for plant propagation or fondness of tropical fruits. As far as rare houseplants, you may be the only one on your block to have a pineapple plant!
The main method of propagation for pineapple plants is cloning, making it simple to acquire as a houseplant.
- High temperatures
- Direct sunlight
- Dry soil, do not water until fully dried out
- Water from the top, over the leaves
- Loam soil, possible additives for aeration like perlite
- Medium to large pot
3. Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus)
These fascinating, rare houseplants are known for their tubular inflorescence.
As much as we all love vegetation, flowers amongst our domesticated houseplants may have many pros. Mental health and pest management are two of the many benefits’ flora provide.
The lipstick plant originates in Malaysia and is known as a vigorous creeping vine. Popping red flowers are consistent if best management practices are in place. You may love this plant if you want continuous color in your sunroom.
I have never owned one of these plants although I would enjoy one in a hanging basket in the room with the houseplants! Having a sufficient N-P-K ratio (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) is key to growing a plant’s version of lipstick.
If you would acquire this rare houseplant, note that the standard soil temperature should be 70F-80F for optimal blooms.
Having outrageous, red flowers along with being planted in a hanging basket, this plant can be a knockout as far as houseplants.
- 3-2-1 (N-P-K) fertilizer ratio
- Perlite for extra aeration
- Water when dry (soggy soil = death is this case)
- Needs some direct/moderate sunlight to flower
- Medium/high humidity
- Hanging planters allow for a lot of creeping but can be grown in grounded pots too
4. Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
South America has yet again introduced us to more gorgeous, rare houseplants. The pattern variegation on these houseplants is the main appeal to plant owners.
This plant is also known as a prayer plant. At night it closes its leaves like praying hands. The green, pink, and white foliage work well for pots and hanging baskets.
Prayer plants show brilliant pattern variegation on their leaves.
- Part shade
- Allow soil to dry out before watering again
- Additional humidity
5. Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides)
These may be rare houseplants to some, but for those who live in places such as Florida, these air plants can be considered invasive.
Naturally, this is how Spanish moss grows, and can be a problem in some areas for other plants such as trees.
Air plants are epiphytes; therefore, they form a commensalistic relationship with other plants; they grow on others, and the other plant in the picture is not helped nor harmed. Epiphytes obtain their needs such as water and nutrients through the atmosphere.
Running out of space for your houseplants is no longer an issue with this plant! Mist it with warm water twice every week and allow it to fully dry out before watering. If you accidentally forget to water and it completely dries up, try soaking it in a pool of warm water.
Overall, these plants are simple to take care of and they add more unusual, rare houseplants to your collection. I had received some Spanish moss a few years ago from a greenhouse. I watered it with filtered water (excess chemicals in unfiltered can be harmful).
It was doing wonderful, and you would not believe the cute little flowers that developed amongst the long tendrils. Although, one day I was sweeping with a Shop-Vac, and accidentally sucked it up with the vacuum! The horror of such has kept me from getting another one since.
So, be careful when you are cleaning if you have air plants!
This plant also can be beneficial if you have problems with pests in the soil such as fungus gnats or root rot, seeing that it does not need soil. Spanish moss is also known to be widely used in the floriculture and craft industry. You will probably see it in a floral design before you do in someone’s home.
As a houseplant, Spanish moss is a great plant to hang from the curtains, chandeliers, or other structures because of its growth habit.
- Bright indirect light
- Mistings with filtered water
- Occasional fertilizer
- Loves humidity
If you would run out of room for your rare houseplants collection, Peperomia does not take up much space and often does not need fertilization.
Belonging to the family Piperaceae, the genera Peperomia is one of the largest in the family. It’s also simple to take care of and adds a fresh touch when put in a hanging basket or 4-6” pot.
The succulent-like, water-retaining leaves and stems of this plant may benefit you if you forget to water or want to go camping for a few days.
My Peperomia is very self-sustained and receives water when much of the soil is dry.
Peperomia come in many different varieties and are not difficult to take care of.
- Indirect light
- Water when dry
7. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Every year these houseplants frighten me around the wintertime! As an indoor and outdoor plant, Lemon Balm goes dormant until spring. Moreover, you don’t have to worry if it begins to die when it gets cold out. Continue watering and these houseplants shall return to you!
This member of the mint family smells fantastic, and often it gives me a lot of stress relief when I smell it. Usually, I rub my fingers gently all over the leaves, and the scent stays on my hand for me to indulge in the lemony smell.
You may love this plant if you forget to water or do not have every day to spend with your houseplants. It is very resistant and will spring back to life even if it is wilted beyond belief. Not to mention, if you would want to retire this rare houseplant, you can plant it in your flower beds. Be careful though because members of the mint family can become invasive.
The first time I saw this plant, I fell in love with it and bought a 4” pot of it for myself. I repotted into a bigger size and had it for about two years. That summer I propagated like crazy! My main method was taking it out of the pot and essentially cutting the whole plant into sections, leaving me with mini sections of the leaves, stems, and roots.
This propagation method made me sad because I had to rip the plant apart. Yet, all the sections I tore and replanted thrived and I gifted them to friends and family!
My first Lemon Balm plant passed away, and I recently got a new one that is in a giant pot in my plant room. It is going through the dormancy stage, but it will be back in a few weeks to shine!
Trimming these houseplants to obtain the desired shape can also be a fun plant activity to do and prevents them from becoming sprawled out and all over the place.
Sharing this plant with others is always fun as well. My friends will come over and I will be so excited, “sniff my plant! Give it a smell!” are often my first words, and they look at me like I’m insane…until they smell the luxury of this rare houseplant!
If you love the benefit of smelling great plant smells, sniffing lemon balm foliage might satisfy you with its lemony smell.
- Direct sunlight
- Water when dry
- Fertilize in the Spring
- Occasional plant trimming
8. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
To koalas, these plants may not be unusual, but for us, they can be considered rare houseplants!
In my opinion, this is a difficult plant to grow from seed.
Koalas love to eat Eucalyptus.
The seeds are teeny-tiny and can be very picky. Although, you can grow this plant indoors as long as you have the correct lighting and heat source.
Eucalyptus often germinates and sprouts into a fragile state and requires a lot of attention.
You might highly benefit from this plant for it has a myriad of physical and mental health purposes. For me, the stress relief from the scent of this plant is immense. I must warn you though, that it has quite a strong smell!
Outdoors, this plant reaches towering heights. As far as indoors, you may want to have space set aside for the fast grower and recognize if you can host a tree. The leaves of this plant also give it interesting foliage.
So interesting, that you will see sprigs of this plant in many floral arrangements and house decorations!
The distinct leaves of Eucalyptus make it desired for numerous ornamental purposes.
- Direct light
- Plenty of room (can reach 6+ feet indoors)
- Allow soil to dry out between waterings
- Fertilize regularly
- Keep away from koalas
9. Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
If you rewind 60 years, these would not be considered rare houseplants, but instead one of the most iconic scents of that decade! The peace culture of the 1960s used this plant very frequently due to its powerful scent.
The Volkswagen Bus was another main icon of the 1960s and 1970s.
The plant has been around for centuries and has also been used for medicinal purposes across the globe.
As part of the mint family, your friends may be wowed when they see these houseplants in your home – for usually, people see it most sold as essential oils. The extract of this plant’s leaves is also a helping hand in the dermatology department.
Again, I find this plant challenging to grow from seed, and generally most plants in the mint family due to their small seed size. It certainly is not impossible for you to grow patchouli from seedling to maturity if you cater to specific light and temperature conditions.
Like Lemon Balm, the plant goes dormant in the winter and trimming can help create the shape you have in mind.
Resistance runs in the mint family, so you won’t have to worry as much (with mature houseplants) if you miss or misread your plant watering schedule for the week. Even though there is some drought tolerance, I notice that I have to water more often with mint members because container soil does not retain as much moisture.
People extract oils from the plant’s leaves to make health products.
- Full sun/part shade
- Water when dry
- Fertilize in the Spring
10. Jade (Crassula ovata)
With succulents growing in popularity these days, Echeverias, cacti, and Aloes seem to be some of the main attractors.
Aloe vera is seen in almost all houseplant collections and is known worldwide for its healing properties.
Jades may be exemplary rare houseplants you may be seeking amongst the hundreds of succulents.
As gorgeous and merrymaking that this plant may be, I have never been able to keep them alive. Last week I saw a full, thick-leafed Jade in a 4” pot, but I was too scared of history repeating itself!
My main problem with them is providing sufficient light. Without enough, they become leggy, stretched, and weak due to lack of light and having to reach for it. If you have direct, bright sun, you will allow these houseplants to thrive.
The pad-like leaves and slight, rare color around the leaf margins add flare to your collection. Stems of the plant can get thick and almost woody, and you may want to press and preserve the slender five-petaled inflorescence.
Leaf propagation can also be easily practiced with these houseplants.
Coloration around the leaves of these plants makes it intriguing.
- Soil with good drainage (could add additional perlite to potting mix, or get a succulent media mix)
- Direct light
- Water when dry
11. Tri-color Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Tricolor’)
If you have animals in your home and want to add some pizzazz to your collection, you may be looking for non-toxic and rare houseplants; look no further! The colorful foliage is the main showstopper of this plant.
You may have heard of sage, for it is used regularly in the landscape and for medicinal purposes. Native Americans use it for a variety of rituals and ceremonies, and paranormal persons use it occasionally to cleanse a space. Even today it is used in the common household for frequent spiritual cleansings and human use dates back thousands of years spanning many cultures.
If you don’t want to use your houseplants to make sage bundles, indulging in the scent this mint member gives off can create positive energy within and around you as is.
Tri-color sage is particular when it comes to soil, for it needs to have a well-drained quality. Pruning will encourage growth, and over time you will see older growth turn woody. It is also possible you will see the plant flower a rare blue in the summer!
If you decide to eventually transfer these houseplants outside, bees and other pollinators love it.
Two years ago, when I had a mini greenhouse in my backyard, I hosted these rare houseplants there. I fell in love with them on a hot summer’s day at a farmer’s market. Unfortunately, my greenhouse got too humid and resulted in soggy soil (plant death).
In this case, foliage may brighten up your plant room and provide a pleasant smell.
- Well-drained soil
- Full sun
- Water when dry
- Occasional trimming
- Fertilize in the Spring
You can find bold and blooming beauty here! Growing from bulbs, these houseplants often deter people into not keeping them long-term. Although it is very simple to do so, allowing you to accrue more rare houseplants.
If you water small amounts in the spring, and a bit more once it begins sprouting, your flowers will arrive a month or two after planting. Avoid getting water on the parts of the bulb you can see, and do not soak the soil to prevent rot.
Come winter, trim the stems back and water little until spring. Originating in Africa, these plants are usually seen outside. Putting yours on your porch in the summer to get those summer vibes will benefit the plant as well. The popping color, large petals, and slender female flower anatomy make Amaryllis an irresistible beauty!
Blooming beauties on this plant will add that pop of color you may have been wishing for.
- Indirect light and little water in winter
- Direct light in spring and summer (water when dry)
- Trim stems back after bloomage
13. Porcelain Flower (Hoya carnosa)
The waxy quality of the leaves and plants shout rare houseplants to me. You will not find this type of Hoya in many households.
It is a 2-in-1, with fascinating foliage and flowers. With their climbing viny ways, these houseplants do best in hanging baskets. Well-drained soil is a must, and too much water is a quick route to death. Another rare characteristic is insensitivity to being root-bound. If you do keep these houseplants in the same pot, be sure to fertilize them.
If you are a propagation enthusiast, these houseplants also are easy to root. Once these houseplants are adjusted, they tend to grow great without much maintenance.
You can additionally note that it is a humidity and bright, indirect light lover. Originating in Asia, I am always in search of succulent, star-shaped flowers.
It is as if this plant’s leaves and flowers were dipped in wax, leaving a shiny accent to your collection!
- Bright, indirect light
- Water when dry
- Sufficient humidity
- Fertilize in spring and summer
14. Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
Even one of the oldest plant families on Earth make it onto the rare houseplants list because
- Who doesn’t love ferns?
- Unique leaf margins
- Glossy leaves
Humidity and soil moisture is the key to this fella. You may fall in love with this fern but sadly propagating is only possible through the spores that the plant produces. This is costly and requires lab equipment.
Plants evolved from water, and ferns are early in the plant timeline. They have spores (gametophytes) to reproduce and water is necessary to pair up two spores to make a sporophyte (the fern).
This fern does not like dry or soggy soil, so you must find the happy medium of consistent moisture. If all of your direct sunspots are full of houseplants, this fern is versatile and can tolerate the corners of the room.
Glossy, wavy leaves set this plant aside from any other fern.
- Part sun/part shade
- Consistent moisture (not dry, not soggy)
- Water less in winter
- Can grow in a small pot
15. Friendship Plant (Pilea involucrata)
I purchased this plant a year ago while attending a reptile show with my best friend. I had only known it by its scientific name; knowing the common name solidifies the good memory.
Amongst the geckos and snakes, plant booths were set up. The bumpy and colorful foliage of these rare houseplants drew my attention immediately.
They grow upright and are also easy to propagate by stem cuttings. When I saw the tiny flowers for the first time, I watched with joy as clusters of them sprang up over a few weeks.
The bumpy texture and leaf variegation of this Pilea may make it an interesting houseplant for you.
- High humidity
- Water when dry
- Trim dead flowers
- Bright, indirect light
I know having so many options for rare houseplants may be overwhelming; there is only so much space in the house! You would be surprised as to how I have not run out of room with hosting 71 plant residents thus far.
The upside could be that although rare houseplants, many of these plants can be found if sought after. Whether it be social media, your other plant friend, or the grocery store, rare houseplants are all around!
Listening to and observing the plants results in success, for plants show signs and symptoms when they are in distress.
The term ‘rare houseplants’ may make you timid, but the majority of these plants have easy care and propagation guides that any owner could follow!