Mr Plant Geek (AKA Michael Perry), known for his great podcast and notoriously fun Instagram page, introduces us to some of his favourite weird plants you can grow at home!
I've been a plant geek for over 30 years. As a kid, I grew unusual plants on the windowsill with my Grandma, which later inspired me to travel the world and see a lot of these, and even weirder ones, in the wild!
To share my knowledge of these fascinating plants, here is my guide to 9 Weird & Wacky houseplants that you can grow in your home!
1. Pitcher Plants
For many, their first foray into growing carnivorous plants will be Venus Fly Trap. But how about trying its cousin, the imposing Sarracenia?
Many species are pretty hardy and can grow outdoors, but they'll also enjoy a sunny windowsill.
The sticky syrup which drips from the rims of each pitcher entices unsuspecting insects.
Once inside the pitcher to seek out more delicious syrup, they lose their footing and slip down the smooth pitcher surface. Once at the base they are well and truly trapped, decompose, and are absorbed by the hungry plants!
As the plant feeds itself, you won't need to fertilize it. Water with mineral-free, filtered water and keep wet at all times with a topped-up saucer of water. Let your Sarracenia rest for 3-4 months during the winter.
2. The Dancing Plant
A little bit of fun for the windowsill, The Dancing Plant really does what it says on the tin!
Originally documented by Charles Darwin, the incredible Codariocalyx motorius is one of a few plants capable of rapid movement, just like the Venus Fly Trap.
The small, upper leaflets rotate elliptically throughout the day to find the optimum position for sunlight, sending a message to the larger leaves below, who then move accordingly!
Check out this video to see this amazing coreography in action!
Reports also talk about leaves reacting to sound and vibrations, although this hasn't been researched! Indeed, when I first met this plant at Niigata Botanical Garden in Japan, it definitely moved as I chatted to my host, and captured my fascination ever since.
3. Chandelier Plant
The Chandelier Plant is a great addition to any cactus and succulent collection and was introduced to me by my Grandma.
Native to Madagascar, Bryophyllum is a highly adaptive, drought-tolerant genus of plants. Although it may be a welcome addition to households in the UK, it is less welcome in countries where it's classed as an invasive, and sadly toxic, weed.
Tiny plantlets are produced along the edge of the leaves, which are at first embryonic and later produce their own roots as well. In time, they fall to the ground and root themselves!
Because of this, The Chandelier Plant doesn't need to produce seeds, although it still can and seeds are viable for an incredibly long time!
A plant that it's almost impossible to fail with, just place it in a well-lit position and stay alert when it sheds its babies each season! That's if you don't want them all over the carpet...
4. Living Stones
Depending on how cheeky you are, these either look like stones or small bottoms! A wonder of nature, the name Lithops (aka Living Stone) actually comes from the Ancient Greek words lithos (stone) and ops (face).
These fantastic houseplants have developed a way to photosynthesise whilst staying beneath soil level, where they are camouflaged as real stones, thanks to clever 'solar panels' on the top of their fleshy thickened 'leaves'.
Stone or small bottom?
This means it doesn't matter if they accidentally become submerged by rocks and pebbles, as they often do in the rocky arid plains of South Africa, where they originate from.
Despite being an appealing succulent, they won't want too much sun in our homes. Remember, they're used to being beneath soil level, where it's often a bit cooler.
During the summer, you'll often be rewarded with a rather intriguing daisy-like flower and perhaps a ripening seedpod. Water much much less during the winter months.
When growing in the wild, raindrops cause the seeds to pop out around the plant! Available to buy in a myriad of patterns and colours, they're also an absolute joy to grow from seed.
5. Sideshow Bob Plant
Despite its common name, the Asparagus Fern isn't actually a real fern! It ticks the box with its ferny appearance, but comes without the often fussy high humidity requirements of true ferns, phew!
'Sideshow Bob' is one of my favourite picks, and could create a lot of interest in a nice container in a bright room.
When I used to work in Florida, the roadside borders often had a lot of these 'hairdos', as the climate was a little more welcoming to such exotics!
But don't fear, it's pleasing as a houseplant, and maybe even flower if it's super happy! You might not notice the blossom though, they're white and just a few millimetres across.
6. Green Rose
Whilst real green roses don't exist, we can play at it with Greenovia! Native to the Canary Islands, these are well worth hunting down from cacti and succulent suppliers and are a real treasure in my own collection.
A relatively unknown succulent, these are fairly easy to grow. Just remember they're growing seasons are a bit topsy-turvy!
In the winter, plants will be in full growth, with rosettes fully open and flat. This is when they'll need watering, but not too much, always do a finger test into the soil first!
During the summer, they'll have the rosebud appearance as they lie dormant
Grow in a gritty potting mix, and feed monthly with a half-strength balanced feed. If you're lucky, your rosettes might reach 25cm (10in) in diameter!
7. Water Balloon Plant
Haworthia truncata var. truncata
These sweet little succulents are translucent and really fun to play with using a backlight! I even use different colours to make my own little succulent disco!
Easy to grow as long as you keep plants on the dry side - too much water will be the death of these little sun-loving plants!
A native to South Africa, plants typically have 20-25 fleshy leaves in each rosette, and the tips are transparent, which means they can still function if they slip below the soil level.
Grow in any gritty potting mix, but just go easy with that watering can!
8. Hundreds and Thousands Plant
I remember first seeing this plant at a florist in the town where I grew up and being fascinated that berries were growing on a plant so small. I'd been used to seeing them on hedges until then!
Nertera is a genus of plants that is quite transcontinental in its wild distribution, occurring from Chile to New Zealand and most places in between!
It's a sweet little houseplant, but boy is it a diva. First off, it needs porous soil. Then, it wants a bright, yet shaded position in the home. Avoid the bright sun at all costs. Mist the plants with a water spray, but not too much!
Finally, as it gets to winter, reduce watering. Winter is also time to do the painstaking job of removing all the blackening berries! Oh my gosh!
9. Striped Bananas
This super-rare banana is definitely one to cause a plant geek squeal! First found in Hawaii, it's unclear if that's where it actually originated. Legend has it that the Hawaiian Royal Family were the only people permitted to grow it!
The lush leaves are variegated, but the surprise of all surprises is that so are the fruits! The variegation and its rarity mean that these aren't cheap. I spotted one in a plant shop in China and it cost around £2000!
Variegated leaves add to the value of this plant!
Not too tricky as a houseplant, bear in mind they'll want to grow large, and can hit five metres when grown outside. Don't let it get cooler than 18°C, water steady and feed during the summer!