That stash of greenery takes up quite a bit of space in his home, in Colchester, Essex, and could earn him a lot of money, but plants are just a part-time hobby for Mark. He works full-time in IT for a law firm.
Spending time and money on plants has kept Mark going in amid the pandemic.
‘I started collecting during lockdown, I’ve always enjoyed house plans and it was something to do last year,’ said Mark.
‘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.’
Mark warns fellow plant parents that an interest in rare types can quickly become addictive – and expensive.
‘I think I have spent around £4,000 on my collection, which is worth over £10,000 now,’ he said.
‘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 around a hundred more – I have lost count in there.’
The first expensive plant Mark bought was £90, but since then he has spent close to £500 on a single Anthurium Luxurian from Ecuador.
Mark remembers the first expensive plant he bought being worth £90.
‘In the UK that plant can fetch £800 but it is rare and vary hard to get hold of,’ he notes.
‘Thanks to the online community I now have contacts all over the world to get plants imported.
‘Sometimes I buy just a leaf and that makes it more affordable and then I can grow it myself.’
To be clear, though, while Mark has expensive taste, he’s no snob. He’s perfectly happy popping to his local garden centre for new plant pals.
He also enjoys displaying his collection around his home and caring for them daily, which he says is therapeutic.
Mark 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 north-east facing. They love it there.
‘All the other plants are on the other side of the house where they get good light all day.
‘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.’
Mark has no plans to quell what he calls an addiction to houseplants, and is sharing his journey on Instagram at @your.babylon.
‘My collection has really expanded over the past year but it’s an ongoing collection and I would like to see it keep growing,’ he added. ‘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.
‘These are my treasures.’
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