A house plant enthusiast has a collection worth over £10,000 – after becoming addicted to buying rare species during lockdown. Mark Lashmar has always had a keen interest in horticulture but his collection rocketed last year and he now has more than 250 plants inside his three bed home in Colchester, Essex.
The 39 year old values his extensive collection at over £10k – with many of his favourites being rare international imports. Despite the size of his collection, the plants are only a hobby for Mark, who works full time in IT for a law firm. He said: “I started collecting during lockdown, I’ve always enjoyed house plans and it was something to do last year.
“Now I connect with people online, there is a huge plant community on the internet – and it is really lovely to be part of it. “Plants have given me a very positive mental health, I love to look after them, nurture them. “It can be very therapeutic, repotting them, cleaning their leaves – it’s very relaxing and having them in the house is very calming.” But Mark warns it can quickly become addictive – and expensive.
“I think I have spent around £4,000 on my collection which is worth over £10,000 now. “I source plants from all over the globe, including Indonesia, Ecuador and Europe. I have 250 in the house and I have a greenhouse in the garden with hundreds more – I have lost count in there.” Mark remembers the first expensive plant he bought being worth £90. He added: I thought at the time it was very expensive but then my collection – and knowledge- grew and I have paid hundreds for plants.
“The most I have spent was $650 dollars on a Anthurium Luxurian plant from Ecuador. “In the UK that plant can fetch £800 but it is rare and vary hard to get hold of but thanks to the online community I now have contacts all over the world to get plants imported and sometimes I buy just a leaf and that makes it more affordable and then I can grow it myself.” Mark has warned other enthusiasts to do careful research when buying from overseas.
The house plant collection consists of more than 250 plants
He said: “I always make sure that sellers I use are renowned sellers, you have to be careful that the plants being sold have not been poached.” Despite buying most of his collection from international online sellers, Mark does still love to potter around his local garden centre. “I do love to visit UK garden centres, I love the space and it’s a nice way to spend my time.” At home, Mark has plants which tower above him and some that reach the ceiling of his home. In contrast, he has some growing in pots no bigger than his hand. Mark likes to display his collection with focal points around his home and the very rare ones in his collection are kept inside two self made cabinets.
Caring for his house plant collection is time-consuming, but therapeutic. He said: “I check all my plants in the cabinets daily and water where needed. “The plants in the house I check every few days. It can take an hour just to water and feed the plants I have downstairs.
“I rotate some plants in the location they are in so they get even exposure to light and I have all the lower light plants like my Calathea and Scindapsus in the front of the house where it’s NE facing. They love it there. “All the other plants are on the other side of the house where they get good light all day.”
He added: “All the plants in the cabinet I can monitor as I have WiFi power control of the lights, fans, heat mats and can see the temp and humidity. “We have to have a plant sitter when we go on holiday and I leave strict instructions how to look after them all.” And Mark has no intentions of stopping yet. He said: “My collection has really expanded over the past year but it’s an ongoing collection and I would like to see it keep growing. I don’t think I am going to stop. The more time I spend researching plants, the more I find that I would like to own.
“That house plant collection are my treasures.”