How many times must I purchase a Hoya on eBay before I learn my lesson? That is the question. The answer (apparently) is 2,459 times. Let me explain.
It’s simple, really. I saw some crappy pictures of a plant that I wanted and I pressed a button that says “Buy it now”. What I should have done was move on to a different listing. Or, when I saw that the photos of the plant made it difficult to see exactly what I was purchasing, I should have asked the seller for additional photos. Instead, I went against my better judgement and bought the plant.
I thought I was purchasing a Hoya australis ‘Lisa’, but I had some serious doubts when it arrived. Let me show you the plant I purchased compared to an actual Hoya australis ‘Lisa’.
Fortunately, I have an actual Hoya australis ‘Lisa’ that we can compare to the eBay plant. (You may be wondering why I was purchasing H. ‘Lisa’ if I already had one. I say to you, “Mind your own business!” Ha. But actually, I was hoping to plant the two together to make the two puny plants into a more respectable looking H. australis ‘Lisa’. Now you know.)
On the left in the photo, you’ll notice that the leaves have no shine. They are almost textured feeling and very thick like cardboard. On the right, the leaves of H. ‘Lisa’ are smooth, thin and almost rubbery feeling. Hmmmm…it’s not looking good so far.
Next, there is the obvious lack of pink coloration on the eBay plant. The H. ‘Lisa’ has bright pink colored new growth. I initially credited the lack of pink coloring to the fact that there is no new growth on the eBay plant.
Another rather obvious difference is leaf shape. The ‘Lisa’ has leaves that come to a point. The eBay plant has rounded leaves that come to a small, almost unnoticeable point.
The final clear identifier for the eBay plant is the white splashes that are sprinkled across the leaves. They look a bit like freckles. These are commonly found on a Hoya obovata. Along with the thick, rounded leaves that feel rather like cardboard and a complete lack of sheen on the leaf surface. It turns out, my eBay plant is a Hoya obovata variegata.
Although I really did want a Hoya australis ‘Lisa’, I came out way ahead financially on this mistake. The variegated version of a Hoya obovata is currently selling for at least twice as much as I paid for my eBay plant which was listed as Hoya ‘Lisa’. I have been wanting a variegated Hoya obovata since I very first laid eyes on one more than a year ago. So I am very pleased. But I did want to caution you, dear reader, about searching for your most desired houseplants online.
Purchasing plants online is a tricky business in the best of times. You must consider weather, the hardiness of the species of plant you are purchasing, and if you are on a marketplace website (for example, eBay or Etsy) it is an absolute must to pay close attention to the reviews of that shop/vendor. Do they package plants well? Are their plants generally healthy? Do the plants arrive as described or are there discrepancies from the listing information? And then there is the question of photos.
Frankly, I have found that navigating the photos of a plant listed on Etsy or eBay to be nightmarish. Many times a listing will have several photos of a full beautiful plant in a huge planter with foliage spilling all over the sides of its planter, then I read the description and it is for a one or two leaf cutting. Hmmmm… Many times the word “cutting” isn’t even included in the title of the listing. It is legal? Yes. Is that seller being ethical? It’s certainly a gray area, but I’m just gonna say it. No, it’s not ethical. On the listings in my own Etsy shop (Matilda & Clementine) I make sure that if I am selling a cutting, the featured photos are of cuttings. Not a whole plant. I usually put one or maybe two photos of the whole plant at the end of the photos, just so a buyer can see what their cuttings can become, but I don’t put those photos anywhere near the beginning of the photo carousel. Additionally, I believe that using the word “cutting” in the title of the listing is just as important to your buyers.
As a buyer, it is your right to request additional information or photos from a seller if a listing is confusing or unclear. Remember to give the seller a reasonable amount of time to respond to your message. Many sellers will respond almost immediately, but I think a day or two is a reasonable amount of time to wait. If the seller does not respond to your requests, you really should not purchase from him/her. The chances of a bad buying experience are very high if a seller is not willing to communicate with you.
I hope the take-away from this experience will be that we all proceed carefully when we buy plants online. My goal isn’t to scare you, only to give you some caution as you move forward. *I’m speaking to myself especially.* May the Force be with you.
I hope you enjoyed this blog. Make sure to check out our other Hoya content on our A-Z list of blog articles. If you’d like to see this in a video form, here is our YouTube video My Ebay Shopping Error. Also, make sure that you are subscribed to this blog so that you don’t miss any new content. Simply head to the bottom of the Home page of this website, click the Subscribe button and type in your email address.
I hope you are doing well.
Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.