How to Get Rare Carnivorous Plants (Legally and Ethically!)

We carnivorous plant lovers are also collectors. We always need MORE! And the more rare and beautiful, the better. But sometimes, the plants we want the most seem to be the least available. Why do other people gotta love that plant so much too? In this post, I’m offering some tips and guidelines on getting the rare carnivorous plants that you want.

Nepenthes edwardsiana, one of the most sought after carnivorous plants in the world.
Nepenthes edwardsiana, one of the most sought-after carnivorous plants in the world.

1. Join the community. Most carnivorous plant enthusiasts hang out in Facebook groups, and in online forums. Participate in discussions, show off your photos, and get to know your fellow carnivorous plant addicts. People are often offering plants for trades or for sale. If you have something to trade in return, or even if you’re simply not a jerk, you can often score a great deal. It also never hurts to ask! Post that you’re looking for a certain plant, and group members will often tell you where to find it.

Here’s a short list of carnivorous plant communities:

2. Attend in-person shows/sales. If you aren’t a member of your local carnivorous plant society, you should join! Most carnivorous plant societies have an annual show and sale. Vendors and members take the once-per-year opportunity to show off and sell their best plant specimens. The BACPS has a convenient page of links to other carnivorous plant societies around the world. If you live somewhere that isn’t graced with a local carnivorous plant society, start one yourself! If that is too intimidating, carnivorous plants are also often sold at reptile shows, orchid shows, and other gardening events.

Nepenthes hamata, another plant coveted by collectors.
Nepenthes hamata, another plant coveted by collectors.

3. Participate in group orders. I’ve never done this before, but group orders usually culminate when a group of people want to order several plants from overseas vendors, such as Borneo Exotics or Wistuba. Again, it helps to be an active participant in the community! Matt, the owner of explains it well in this forum post:

Typically group orders are organized by one person. That person takes count of what everyone taking part in the group order wishes to purchase. Shipping costs and any other associated costs (like phytosanitary certificates or other paperwork) are usually split evenly between all persons in the group placing the order. One PC is all that is needed per order. All people wishing to take part in the group order send their portion of the order total (including their portion of shipping and other charges) to the person placing the order and then the order is placed. Plants are shipped to the organizer and then forwarded to each person in the group (these shipping costs are usually included as well).

4. Online auctions. eBay is an excellent source for rare plants if you can find the legitimate vendors. Follow Phil Faulisi for rare Sarracenia hybrids, and Flytrapstore for the occasional rare Venus Flytrap auction! Native Exotics will have you covered for Nepenthes and Heliamphora. If you are a member of the Sarracenia forum and/or Terraforums, they hold annual auctions in the forum as well. You don’t even need to be a forum member to participate! What’s great about these forum auctions is the money collected benefits non-profits such as the North American Sarracenia Conservancy. Even better, the 2015 benefit auction on Sarracenia forums is going on right now!

Sarracenia "Saurus" by Phil Falusi, bought for $1,025.
Sarracenia “Saurus”, which sold for $1,025 on eBay and sparked lots of debate! Click to learn more!

5. Ask! Never be afraid to simply ask for what you want! If you’re at a nursery, ask an employee if your heart’s desire is available for sale. If you don’t see it for sale online, send the vendor an email or Facebook message. You may be pleasantly surprised! I just want to re-emphasize not being a jerk. Be polite and courteous, always! You may be willing to trade a kidney for it, but no one owes you a rare plant.

6. DIY. As long as you have plants that can produce viable seed, there is always the option of creating your own hybrids, which could turn out to be extraordinary! Of course, this is more of a time commitment and an entirely separate ballgame from just collecting. But if you’re really into the idea of creating something completely unique, pollinating and sowing your seeds is definitely worth trying!

Finally, be patient. If no one seems to have the plant you’re seeking at this very moment, it is probably being propagated somewhere and will be available online at a later date. If you stay active in the community, you’ll be able to find out when and where it is available.

Got a different method of obtaining rare carnivorous plants that I missed? Let me know in a comment, if you’re willing to share! 😉


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