The rareness of the plant is what drives up the cost for species like the philodendron joepii variegated. Several factors determine how rare the plant is. Plants with a scarce supply are more expensive, and demand also comes into play: If a plant goes viral on social media, it pushes up the demand. If the supply can’t meet the demand for the plant, then it is considered rare, and the prices go up.
Another factor is whether or not it’s variegated. This is a plant that has leaves with two or more colors that create a border, spots, or stripes on foliage. Plants can be naturally variegated, or become variegated due to a genetic mutation or infection. Furthermore, variegation can be unstable, causing the plant to revert to a solid color. Variegated plants are expensive because they take longer to grow, mainly due to their reduced chlorophyll, and there’s only a 1 in 100,000 chance that the variegation will be successful and permanent.
Because of this, some plants are patented, which affects cost. Philodendrons also only grow in very specific areas and certain species might only come from a single country. The highly sought-after philodendron joepii comes from South American jungles and is considered on the verge of extinction, and a variegated one is even rarer.