5 Underrated & Uncommon Houseplants that are Cheap AND Easy!

by | Jun 1, 2021 | Plant Trends

Plants that are popular and common have earned these labels for a reason: these plants grow really well in our homes. As such, much of houseplant care content is focused on these plants.

BUT there are other plants out there that haven’t been given a lot of attention despite their beautiful, interesting, and low-maintenance nature.

This week we are going to explore a few of these awesome houseplants that grow wonderfully indoors and are uncommon and affordable.

What does uncommon mean? Click to read

Uncommon is a frequently used term to describe plants which aren’t as easy to find and source as those you might see at grocery stores, home improvement stores, etcetera.

What is available commonly for me may not be the same as what is available for you. As such, it’s possible that one or more of these plants are super common in your area.

Plants like Hoya linearis are fairly common in Europe, but are much harder to find in the United States.

Conversely, Monstera siltepecana is fairly easy to source in the United States, but very difficult to find in many other countries.

Table of Contents

#1 Pereskia aculeata cv. ‘Godseffiana’ variegata

Despite its leafy appearance, this plant is a cactus! It is one of the most primitive cactus, which hasn’t evolved to lose its leaves and swell its stem, like most of the cacti we are familiar with.

It is commonly called Barbados Gooseberry because it develops edible fruit and is native to Barbados, as well as other islands in the West Indies and parts of Central and South America.

This plant is exceptionally beautiful, with its yellow variegated leaves that emerge a light pink to deep red when first grown in ample light.

I have never seen this plant at a local nursery for sale and found it by chance on Steve’s Leaves’ last year. It’s proven to be easy to grow and isn’t a highly sought after plant currently, making it affordable.

Pereskia, like many cacti, like a lot of light. They will benefit from receiving a few hours of direct sunlight. I grow mine in a West-facing window where it receives hot afternoon sun.

While they do like to mostly dry out and can tolerate some drought, these plants do best with more regular watering than the leafless, desert cacti.

You will be able to tell if the plant has become dehydrated because its leaves will shift from a shiny, somewhat succulent texture to a dull, floppy texture.

I try to water mine before it loses its succulence, but after its been allowed to dry.

#2 Senecio confusus ‘Sao Paulo’

(also known as Pseudogynoxys chenopod ioides ‘Sao Paulo’)

When I think of Senecio, I typically think of pretty succulent, desert plants. However, this particular Senecio is more similar to a Peace Lily than to succulents in terms of watering requirements!

The leaves are thin and glossy on thin, climbing stems. This plant wilts dramatically when thirsty and then rebounds after a good thorough watering.

The new growth emerges a dark purple to nearly black color and then slowly fades to green. The plant can also produce lovely little orange flowers, earning its common name, “Mexican Flame Vine.”

I water this one when beginning to dry or when wilted. I try not to let it wilt, but it has several times and was able to bounce back without an issue.

It receives lots of light from an LED grow light in my home, but I would imagine that it could do well in a West-facing window where it receives afternoon sun or it could be happy near a Southern window which provides bright light all day.

#3 Plectranthus tomentosa

(also known as the Vicks plant)

The Vicks Plant is aptly named as it smells very much like Vicks vaporub! In fact, the plant can be used to help clear nasal passages, just like Vicks.

It has wonderfully fuzzy, succulent leaves that grow in a shrubby nature. Because of its succulence, Plectranthus tomentosa can tolerate some drought and lots of light.

It can also be grown in lower light levels (like windowsills that receive no direct sunlight or only gentle morning sun), but may grow slower and become a bit leggy.

I water this plant when its soil is completely dry and keep it in a mix of one-third perlite to two-thirds regular potting mix.

Unlike the other plants on this list, I have actually seen this plant one time in a local nursery. So perhaps it is becoming slightly more common or is common in some areas. Either way, its affordable and fun to grow!

#4 Epiphyllum guatemalense ‘Monstrosa’

(also known as the Curly Sue Orchid Cactus)

Epiphyllum are jungle cacti climbing among trees in tropical areas. They typically have long, flat segments, but this particular sport developed a curly growing habit giving it a very unique look!

The curly orchid cactus is native to Guatemala and produces pink orchid cactus flowers that are a bit smaller than the normal variety.

Below is an example of an orchid cactus bloom, but this particular image is NOT the Curly Sue orchid cactus we are talking about above.

My plant hasn’t bloomed yet so I don’t have a picture of its flower (but I will update the photo when I do)! 🙂

The photo below is an Epiphyllum hybrid called “Unforgettable,” photo by Jim Evans, Source Linked Here

Because these cacti are climbing and scrambling among the tropical forest canopy, they are used to a little less light and more regular watering than desert cacti.

I grow this plant in a west-facing window with blinds to help diffuse the hot afternoon sun.

I have heard that too much sun can burn this plant, so be careful placing the plant in too much direct sunlight without something to soften it a little (like blinds or a sheer curtain).

It’s planted in the same mix I use for my hoyas and other epiphytes (tree-climbers): one-third potting mix, one-third perlite or pumice, and one-third orchid bark.

While jungle cacti do need more water than the drought-tolerant desert cacti, these plants also do not want to sit wet for long periods of time and are prone to rot when exposed to those conditions.

As such, I do let this plant dry out completely before drenching the soil again, but do not allow it to remain dry for extended periods of time.

#5 Alluaudia procera

(also known as Madagascar ocotillo)

I first saw this interesting plant at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was incredibly tall, nearly reaching the glass ceiling of the botanical gardens.

You can see the photo I took of it below in February 2020.

The impressive height of this plant combined with its unique, thorny stems lined with lots of tiny succulent leaves captivated me.

I left the botanical gardens believing that this plant was more of a botanical rarity unlikely to be found as a houseplant.

Then, as luck would have it, I came across a listing online for Alluaudia procera from one of the succulent growers I like and snatched it up immediately!

Alluaudia procera is a spiny succulent native to Madagascar. Its leaves are a wonderful meal for some herbivores. Scientists believe that this plant developed its spines to protect itself from being easily eaten.

The care for this plant is very similar to other drought-tolerant succulents. It likes lots of light, very well-draining potting mix, and water only when completely dried.

I have my plant in a mixture of 50% pumice, and 50% houseplant potting mix with some sand added in.

The plant benefits from occasional fertilizing during the growing season. During winter it may drop a lot of its leaves, signaling it is going into dormancy and will require even less water.

I have 2 specimens, the small one you see pictured here and a larger plant that I am growing outdoors during times that temperatures stay above freezing.

Overall, this is probably the most unique and uncommon plant on the list and one that I highly recommend checking out!

Well, that wraps up my 5 uncommon and underrated plants that are affordable and easy to grow!

Do you have other plants that would fall into this category? What are they!? Tell us in the comments below. 🙂

Happy Growing!

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