Indoor gardeners often seek out rare plants. By growing greenhouse propagated plants that are rare or endangered in the wild, indoor gardeners can, in fact, help preserve very rare species. In addition, caring for rare plants can help prolong the lives and history of long-lived plants, such as bonsai.
Throughout history, flowers rare to a particular area have been grown indoors and in greenhouses. For example, calla lilies native to South Africa were brought to Europe. Indoor gardening techniques in places such as the Paris Royal Gardens allowed the rare plants to grow in Europe as early as 1664.
Indoor cultivation can help save species that are extinct or nearly extinct in the wild. For example, growing the rare Chinese yellow banana (Musella lasiocarpa) indoors has saved a species once thought extinct. The flowers on the Chinese yellow banana are yellow and about the size of a dinner plate. Other rare plants, such as some orchids and bonsai trees, are primarily grown in greenhouses to prevent stressing threatened natural populations.
There are many orchid species, between 24,000 and 64,000 depending on how the species are defined. There are a number of very rare orchids that are propagated and grown via cloning. Species that typically only grow in a very localized area, such as Borneo and some Indonesian islands, can be cloned and grown in greenhouses for indoor gardeners.
Although most bonsai are grown from common trees, the rarity of bonsai trees is often due to their styling and age.The older the tree, the more typically rarer the natural styling. Bonsai trees 30 to 60 years old are quite rare and very valuable. One of the oldest and rarest bonsai is the 300-year-old specimen in the National Collection that survived the Hiroshima bombing. Although older, more rare bonsai are very expensive, the best way to create rare bonsai is to either buy a slightly older tree and care for the tree for decades, or start with a young tree and style the tree for a lifetime. As the tree ages, it will increase in rarity and value.
Be careful of where you buy your rare plants. In some cases, the rare plant may have been taken from the wild. If you want to cultivate rare plants, buy only from reputable dealers and nurseries that grow plants for sale in greenhouses.