Newmarket Suburban Jungle Keeper shares tips on using Facebook Marketplace to build an exotic collection at bargain prices
Facebook Marketplace is a hub for collectors of all kinds. Rare Pokémon cards, ’70s adult magazines, or even the abstract art of a man’s ex-girlfriend — whatever tickles your dopamine receptors, Facebook Marketplace likely has it.
And if you’re a plant lover who’s graduated from ZZ plants and succulents, Marketplace is a treasure trove of exotic, rare finds, as Newmarket-based Bionca Hansel can attest.
“It’s now super hard to find rare plants anywhere other than the marketplace or independent plant boutiques,” she said. “Private collectors buy very expensive plants and then sell cuttings from them [on Marketplace]. Sometimes they list them as plant cleaning and you go through all the pics and find some super rare beauties for a fraction of what you would normally pay. It seems to be the cheapest route and I find it the most rewarding.”
Hansel, who began using the platform when it launched in 2016, was initially drawn to it because of the porch pickup option offered by many vendors, but stayed with it because of the built-in sense of camaraderie.
“You meet a lot of independent collectors through Marketplace,” she said. “We say to each other, ‘Oh, you’re looking for this plant? I just saw that this person has it on Marketplace.’ And then somehow keep in touch with each other.”
But you have to be careful what you buy as not every seller will accept returns. To curb buyers’ regrets, Hansel recommends asking sellers the uncomfortable questions: Why are you selling this plant? Has it been treated for pests? Can I see more pictures?
Still, annoying things can happen.
“I had my eyes on this Alocasia Cuprea for over a year. And it is the most metallic, most beautiful and most majestic plant on the face of the planet. The nursery cost $200,” Hansel said. “A year later I found one in the marketplace for $75. I wanted to pick him up and we met at a gas station. I got back in my car and checked it out. The thing vibrated with thrips. It was horrific.”
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. Luckily, the seller agreed to pick up the infected plant the next day. It was a close decision which shows how important it is to inspect the item you are buying before you take it home.
“She might very well have said, ‘Well, it’s yours now, it’s not my problem.’ So it could have been really bad, but luckily she was really good at it.”
Hansel also sells plants and cuttings on Marketplace. She swears by certain conditions when selling, such as B. E-Mail Transfer (EMT) only, no blackout periods, no delivery and pickup at the porch.
“Set your boundaries right off the bat, or you end up having three-week conversations with 21 people who you end up seeing as ghosts,” she said. “Priority your safety at all times and never give your address until the item has been paid for and an approximate pick-up time and date has been established.”
When you buy a Hansel plant or cutting, she encloses a handwritten note with specific care instructions, charmingly written in colored marker. It’s a simple and thoughtful touch that, in some cases, has paved the way for wholesome encounters.
“I meet a lot of really great friends through it [Marketplace]. We end up hanging out, our kids know each other, we spend a Sunday going to local kindergartens,” she said. “But you’ll definitely get a creeper or two.”
In her early days on Marketplace, Hansel encountered a shopper who, after purchasing an item from her, returned to her home with stuffed animals.
“He’s like, ‘I left you a whole bunch of toys on your doorstop for your kids from my kids,'” she said. “He was texting me all the time and I was getting super nervous. It went like this for a good month. I was wondering how this guy didn’t run out of teddy bears.”
The Takeaway: Before you drop an army of teddy bears on a stranger’s doorstep, ask first. Or, you know, keep the stuffed animals to yourself.