Newmarket ‘Suburban Jungle Keeper’ shares tips on how to use Facebook Marketplace to grow an exotic collection at bargain prices
Facebook Marketplace is a hub for collectors of all kinds. Rare Pokémon cards, adult magazines from the 70s or even abstract art of a guy’s ex-girlfriend – whatever tickles your dopamine receptors, Facebook Marketplace probably has it.
And if you’re a ZZ plant and succulent graduate plant lover, Marketplace is a treasure trove of exotic and rare finds, as Newmarket resident Bionca Hansel can attest.
“It’s now very difficult to find rare plants anywhere other than on Marketplace or independent plant shops,” she said. “Private collectors will buy very expensive plants and then sell cuttings [on Marketplace]. Sometimes they list them as a plant purge and you go through all the photos and you find super rare beauties for a fraction of what you would normally pay. It seems to be the cheapest avenue and I find the most rewarding.”
Hansel, who started using the platform when it launched in 2016, was initially drawn to the porch pickup option offered by many sellers, but stayed because of the built-in sense of camaraderie.
“You meet a lot of independent collectors through Marketplace,” she said. “You’re like, ‘Oh, are you looking for this plant? I just saw this person has it on Marketplace.’ And then stay in touch with each other.”
But you have to be careful what you buy, because not all sellers will accept a return. To limit buyer’s remorse, Hansel recommends asking sellers the uncomfortable questions: Why are you selling this plant? Has it been treated for parasites? Can I see additional photos?
Still, annoying things can happen.
“I’ve had my eyes set on this Alocasia Cuprea for over a year. And it’s the most metallic, beautiful, majestic plant on the planet. It was $200 at the nursery,” said Hansel. “I ended up finding one a year later on Marketplace for $75. I went to get it and we met at a gas station. I got back in my car and freaked out looking at it. The thing Was vibrating with thrips.It was horrible.
She explained to the buyer that she couldn’t risk infecting her other plants with thrips – an invasive garden pest that can scar houseplants and stunt their growth. Fortunately, the seller agreed to pick up the infected plant the next day. It was a close call that illustrates the importance of inspecting the item you purchase before bringing it home.
“She could very well have said, ‘Well, it’s up to you now, that’s not my problem.’ So it could have been really bad, but luckily she was really good about it.”
Hansel also sells plants and cuttings on Marketplace. She swears by certain stipulations during the sale, such as email money transfer (EMT) only, no holds, no delivery and front porch pickup.
“Set your boundaries from the start or you’ll end up having three-week conversations with 21 people who will end up imitating you,” she said. “Obviously, prioritize your safety at all times and never give out your address until the item has been paid for and a rough idea of pick-up time and date is determined. .”
When you buy a plant or cutting from Hansel, it includes a handwritten note with specific care instructions, charmingly written in colored marker. It’s a simple, thoughtful touch that, in some cases, has paved the way for healthy dating.
“I meet a lot of very good friends through [Marketplace]. We end up hanging out, our kids know each other, we’ll spend a Sunday going to local nurseries,” she said. “But you’ll definitely have a weird creeper.”
In her Marketplace debut, Hansel met a shopper who, after buying her an item, returned home with stuffed animals.
“He’s like, ‘I left you a whole bunch of toys on your doorstep for your kids of my kids,'” she said. “He kept texting me and I was getting super nervous. It went on for a good month. I was wondering how this guy didn’t run out of teddy bears.”
The takeaway: Ask first, before dropping an army of teddy bears on a stranger’s doorstep. Or, you know, keep the stuffed animals to yourself.