Green-fingered burglars have stolen several thousand dollars worth of plants from Wellington’s Botanic Gardens.
Twelve plants were plucked from the garden, ranging from cuttings through to small trees.
Now gardeners are concerned the exotic houseplant trend is the turning black market green as a place of tranquillity now becomes a crime scene.
“It's stealing from people's enjoyment, it's stealing from our staff's hearts and its stealing from our ratepayers,” says Wellington Botanic Gardens manager David Sole.
The heist took place from a locked building overnight on Monday but with no obvious break-in damage.
But the offender didn't leave without a trace. It’s believed they exited from a door with plant matter and potting mix found trailing outside.
The identity of the missing species is being kept private, in an attempt to keep the remaining greenery safe.
It comes just a fortnight after a rare monstera plant was swiped from Christchurch's Botanic Gardens.
“There's a high possibility they will end up on Trade Me or something similar,” Sole says.
But Trade Me spokesman Logan Mudge says selling stolen goods on the site would be unwise.
“You'd be a moron to try and sell stolen goods on Trade Me - you leave deep electronic footprints on our site that we can trace,” he says.
In the last five years indoor plant sales on the site have climbed 2500 per cent. One plant sold for more than $8000 in August.
Social media, shrinking backyards and the Covid-19 lockdowns are believed to be fuelling interest in house plants.
But gardeners warn if thefts continue, everyone will miss out with precious plants removed from public display.