Plant lovers will take any excuse to get together and talk to other plant lovers. They'll also jump at any opportunity to expand their collections. There's where the plant swap come in.
How cool is it that people are planning plant swaps so that plant lovers have a chance to meet up and exchange plants and cuttings? It’s sustainable and it makes expanding your plant collection that much easier and cheaper than buying more. A plant swap is a great way to avoid paying a premium price on common houseplants that just so happened to become trendy. It’s also a great way to get a plant that you might be nervous about spending money on because it's tricky to care for. Plus, because your plant came from an actual person, you may be more inclined to put a little extra effort into caring for it! You can even get care advice from the plant's former parent.
Here are some tips from an experienced plant swapper to help you host your own.
Meet the Expert
Emma Sibley is the founder of London Terrariums, a popular plant shop that offers workshops and plans plant swaps in London, UK.
What Is a Plant Swap?
“A plant swap is an event where houseplant enthusiasts can come together to swap cuttings, propagations, and their own houseplants with other like-minded green fingered people,” explains Emma Sibley.
It’s a great way to meet other plant people in your area and make some new friends. “There is the opportunity to chat with the people who may have grown your new plant baby from seed, learn where the plant originally came from and any sweet stories behind it," notes Sibley.
Plant swaps give people a connection to their plants that they may not have had before because someone else put all of their love and care into it before giving it to you. It’s also a great way to locate a plant you may have been searching for for ages. “My favorite part of the plant swap is overhearing people absolutely nerd out about a specific genus of plant that they had been searching for and they see it on the plant swap table and then get to learn from the original owner the story behind it,” says Sibley.
Planning a Plant Swap
Setting up a plant swap is super easy. All you need is a place to host it and people to bring a plant or cutting. That place ideally will be large enough to hold a table and some cards. “We [at London Terrarium's events] supply some Plant Cards which we give to everyone as they head inside to start labeling their plants," explains Sibley. "But to be honest you could hold one in your local park with a blanket on the floor or find a cafe on a quiet morning and ask to use their space."
Plant swaps are super low cost because you don’t really need any materials. It makes it easier for just about anyone to host one. Plus, everyone will end up with at least one new (and free) plant to take home with them. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Plant Swap Rules
“There are no hard rules with a plant swap, but I start every swap with a mantra for everyone to be kind and enjoy themselves," says Sibley. "The last thing you want is for it to become grabby!"
And there doesn't have to be a one-for-one rule about swapping plants. "We don’t monitor the amount of plants you bring compared to how many you leave with," notes Sibley. "But due to the British way of everyone being overly polite you always end up coaxing people to take more plants at the end as there are always leftovers."
Tell everyone who is attending to ensure they’re bringing healthy, pest-free plants.
When it comes to swapping plants, probably the most important thing is to make sure you tell everyone who is attending to ensure they’re bringing healthy, pest-free plants. Pests spread really quickly and bringing one plant with any could potentially lead to an infestation. So before you decide on which plant to bring with you check the leaves and the soil to make sure it’s pest-free. It’s also a good idea to check the roots beforehand to see if there is any root rot. You wouldn’t want to bring home a new plant just to find it’s in poor health, so make sure you’re doing the same for whoever will be taking home your plant.