I wonder if plant enthusiasts ever think: “There’s not enough drama in this green garden! I need to add a little pep to make it edgier.” The world of plants can be surprisingly colorful and exciting. At least, that’s what I found out after scrolling through this list of unique, astonishing, and interesting-looking plants. Some exotic plants might try (although unsuccessfully) to eat you; others can smell like straight-up death.
There are also some plants you would never want to grow at home. Still, there’s so much exciting flora to be discovered, even if you’re not a garden enthusiast. We asked botany expert Douglas Justice and plant vlogger Ashley Anita to share some fascinating plant facts for this post. Check out the unique plants below, and let us know which ones look the most impressive to you!
01. This Was Supposed To Be A Plant Progress Post Showing Off My Oxalis, But Henk Stole The Show
Douglas Justice is the associate director of the University of British Columbia’s botanical garden. He has agreed to lend his botanical expertise to us and share some of his favorite unusual, astonishing plants.
Justice’s love for plants is immediately evident in his speech: “I’ve come across many unusual and compelling plants in my years. It’s difficult for me to choose favorites (the lists are always expanding). I usually find something interesting in nearly all plants—how some flowers, like poppies, are unpacked from their buds.”
“How they go, miraculously, from crinkled and bent to satiny smooth. I also like repeating patterns in plants: how for every hebe species (shrubby Veronica), there is another species slightly different in leaf size, shape, color or leaf angle, and another intermediate between the two.”
02. Lithops Genus Of Succulent Plants Whose Rocklike Appearance Serves As Camouflage From Herbivores
03. This Is A Flame Lily, The National Flower Of Zimbabwe
When asked what unusual flora he would recommend for growing at home, Douglas suggests leaf succulents and peperomias. They are quickly grown and excellent windowsill subjects. “Speaking of peperomias,” Justice goes on, “on a magnolia expedition in Colombia some years ago, I encountered a tree branch adorned with epiphytic peperomias so small they could fit into a thimble.
“I have no idea what their names are. A day or so later, in Jardin Botanico de Bogota Jose Celestino Mutis, we came across the exquisite blue-flowered bromeliad known as the ‘sapphire tower’ (Puya Alpestris) and the Venezuelan conifer Retrophyllum Rospigliossii, a tree with fern-like branchlets so regular and perfect they look like they were churned out in a 3D printer.” Reading about these botanical adventures gives me an urge for some plant expeditions.
04. The Plant Crotalaria Cunninghamii Mimicks Birds
05. My Echeveria Showing Me Some Love With Its Blooms
06. Buds Of A Hoya Wax Flower
Douglas has one more suggestion for excitement-seeking plant parents. “A somewhat less tropical Andean plant I have grown (though repeatedly lost) is blue angel’s trumpets (Iochroma australe). This plant is a knockout. Its purple-blue pendulous trumpets would be a welcome addition to any garden.”
Justice shares an adventure that makes me want to become the Short Round to his Indiana Jones. “[O]n a hillside in the Cocoro Valley (across from an expanse of Quindio wax palms) grew a huge red iochroma shrub (Iochroma gesnerioides), with ample clusters of hanging long-tubed flowers of a scarlet so intense it nearly burned the eyes.”
07. The Black Velvet, The World’s Blackest Black Flower. It Was Developed In 2010 Using Natural Breeding
08. My House Plant Looks Like It Came Straight From The Alien Franchise
09. Finally, I Got To Taste A Monstera Fruit! If You’re Wondering, To Me It Tastes Like Banana, Pineapple And Strawberry Combined
Our plant friend and influencer, Ashley Anita, is the go-to person for houseplant enthusiasts. Ashley has a YouTube channel where she shares excellent advice for beginners and pros alike. Her love for plants started early in her childhood, growing up on the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean.
“Growing up there, I always loved exploring the tropical plants,” Ashley says. “I now live in Charlotte, NC, and have for many years. A few years ago, I started reconnecting with my love for plants during one particularly challenging period. I discovered that immersing myself in the world of plants was incredibly rewarding.”
“Whether I was plant shopping in a greenhouse, digging my hands into the soil, or discovering new growth on a plant, I found it all immensely rewarding.”
10. This Strange Plant We Found
11. Strange Round “Fruit” With Stringy Latexy Insides
12. This Extremely Long Plant In My Flat. It’s 4 Floors Long
Ashley also talks about the therapeutic advantages of gardening. “Nurturing and caring for these plants is what we call ‘plant therapy’ in the plant community. I also enjoy the challenge of constantly learning as there is always a new fascinating plant to discover.”
She also praises the community of plant enthusiasts, saying she was surprised by the wholesomeness of people sharing their experiences, advice, and passion for plants. “It was a journey that not only rekindled my love for plants but also brought so much joy and sense of community into my life,” she adds.
13. Burro’s Tail Balcony
14. My Peperomia Letting Me Know She Appreciated The Love I Gave Her
15. Incredibly Unexpected Outcome From A $2 Succulent From The Local Grocery Store
Ashley has excellent advice for people only getting started in the hobby. She shares two plants that can be excellent choices for beginners. The first is Monstera adansonii, also known as “Swiss cheese vine.” “[I]t has beautiful bright green leaves with large holes or ‘fenestrations’ in the leaves, creating an incredibly unique and appealing look.”
She shares some care tips: “It thrives in indirect light while requiring minimal maintenance. Its rapid growth is rewarding for beginners, and it can be placed in various ways, from hanging baskets to climbing up a moss pole. They can be found at most plant nurseries at an affordable rate.”
16. Super Cool Flower In Mom’s Garden. Lost The Tag. Any Thoughts On What This Is?
17. My Cactus Has Grown A Strange-Looking Flower
18. Flirty Fritillaries And Those Cheeky Checkered Petals. These Amazing Flowers Are A Close Relation To Lilies That Are Growing Wild
The other plant for beginners is silver satin (Scindapsus Pictus). “Their leaves are beautifully shaped, but it’s the vibrant silver splash all over the leaves that makes them so unique-looking,” elaborates Ashley.
“These stunning plants have many varieties and are all wonderful houseplants. This makes them highly sought after by houseplant enthusiasts. They can also be found at many plant shops for an affordable rate.”
However, Ashley’s all-time favorite is the “fishtail” hoya (Hoya Polineura): “The leaves resemble a fishtail, making them one of the most unique and sought-after hoyas on the market.”
19. Lapidaria Margaretae Looks Like Stones
20. I Found A Baby Albino Oak In My Garden Some Years Ago And Realized That Plants Can Be Albinos, Too, But They Do Not Live Long Since They Cannot Photosynthesize
21. The Way This Plant Flowers
We also asked our experts to share some weird plant names they’ve encountered throughout their careers. Douglas goes with two South American species: Retrophyllum Rospigliossii (the Peruvian feather grass) and Bactris Gasipaes (the fiercely spined peach palm).
Ashley Anita chose three: Anthurium Pedatoradiatum, “fingers” (the leaves look just like fingers); Peperomia Prostrata, “string of turtles” (the petite round leaves resemble turtle shells); and Hoya Kerrii, “heartleaf hoya,” whose leaves are perfectly heart-shaped.
22. Venus Fly Traps Have To Put Their Flowers Far Away From Their Traps So They Don’t Accidentally Kill Their Pollinators
23. Once A Year, For One Night Only… The Flowers Bloom
24. My Cactus Just Bloomed, And Its Flower Looks Like A Demogorgon
At the beginning of 2022, Architectural Digest deemed variegated versions of philodendron and monstera the most popular. “Variegated” means they come with leaves that are colored irregularly, most often with white marbling and green patches.
Most come from tropical climates and will be hard to find at your local store. Depending on their size and color patterns, they can cost anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars. You can learn to care for both of these plant world superstars on Anita’s channel or Instagram.
25. The Rare Purple Cauliflower. Its Signature Color Comes From The Same Antioxidant Found In Red Cabbage And Red Wine: Anthocyanin
26. This Plant Has Exactly Two Branches At Each Node
27. I Have No Idea, But The Leaves Are Looking Awesome
Some exciting plants people can grow in an outdoor garden include bat flowers and vampire lilies. Don’t be alarmed by the Dracula vibe that seems to pertain here; those plants are not interested in blood.
They are, however, toxic to animals and children, so be cautious of that. Vampire lilies might emit an unpleasant scent similar to corpse flowers. Like their giant counterparts, the lilies are pollinated by carrion beetles and flies.
28. Happy Earth Day. The Craziest Flower I’ve Ever Seen. This Comes Out Of The Dirt. Let’s Protect This Crazy Alien Flower
29. The Inside Of This Tropical Pitcher Plant Looks Like A QR Code
30. Trachyandra Tortilis
If you’re looking for excellent indoor plants to decorate your home with, we suggest pebble plants. They’re succulents that resemble little rocks but look super cute. If you’re more into flowers, there’s peace lilies. Their colors can vary from white to red and pink.
31. My White Princess Philodendron Finally Threw Out A Pink Leaf
32. Dracula Simia. The Flowers Of This Andean Orchid Look Like Monkey Faces
33. These Flowers That Are Almost Too Vibrant To Be Real
34. A Species Of Guarana Plant Looks Like A Large Cluster Of Eyeballs
35. Desert Devil (Welwitschia Mirabilis)
36. This Variegated Rubber Plant Looks Like It’s Straight From The Eighties
37. Zingiber Spectabile (Beehive Ginger) Is A Species Of True Ginger Native To Maritime Southeast Asia
While it has been used as a medicinal herb in Southeast Asia, it is mainly grown as an ornamental plant in the West.
38. Down By The Lake, There’re These Weird Flowers Made Up Of Hundreds Of Tinier Flowers
39. Strange Plant With Very Cool Berries And Seeds
40. A Snake Plant With 0% Chlorophyll
I moved my plastic barrel to tip the water off the top so mosquitoes couldn’t breed in it, and I discovered a snake plant had been growing under it in complete darkness for all of its life.
41. Same, Honestly
42. Leaf Appreciation Post
43. This Is What A Witch Hazel Flower Looks Like
44. Super Gorgeous Isn’t It?
45. Plant In Our Office Is 4 Stories Tall
46. Kyoto Botanical Garden. The Flower Of Psychotria Pepiguiana. This Flower Looks Like A Lip
47. A Flower I Once Found In A Garden Shop In Eastern Washington. Alas, I Have No Better Leaf Pictures
48. Brassia Rex Is A Brassia Hybrid With Massive Flower Spikes Full Of Size Blooms That, For Many People, Look Like Spiders
49. Another Big Agave And My Doggo For Scale
50. The Rings Of This Ponga Plant
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