Episode 112: plant swaps

Plant swappers Fay Kenworthy (left) and Sarah Rousseau (right) plus plant swap dog Tea met me for a chat about the dynamics of plant swaps. Photograph: Kash Prashad.

Plant swappers Fay Kenworthy (left) and Sarah Rousseau (right) plus plant swap dog Tea met me for a chat about the dynamics of plant swaps. Photograph: Kash Prashad.

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Plant swaps are a great way to connect with likeminded planty people, offload surplus plants and get your hands on some great new specimens for your collection. I visited two seasoned plant swappers in Sheffield to find out how it’s done - and I also answer a question about a mystery Peperomia.

This week’s guests


Fay Kenworthy and Sarah Rousseau are the co-founders of the hugely successful Sheffield PlantSwap. Since their first event in November 2017 when they welcomed 20 to 30 people, Fay and Sarah’s swaps have gone from strength to strength. Since this episode was recorded last month, they saw around 170 people attend their latest swap, and their Facebook group now has 1,000+ members.

Plantswap.uk are holding their next swap on November 17 2019 in Sheffield - details here. You can see the galleries of photos of plant swappers here, and contact Fay and Sarah here: they are happy to dispense advice to anyone wanting to set up their own swap! And if you’ve got an upcoming swap you’d like to publicise on On The Ledge, do let me know - I’d be happy to give it a plug!

Fancy setting up your own plant swap? Here are some tips…

A clear set of plant swap rules will help your event to run smoothly. Photograph: Sarah Rouseeau/plantswap.uk.

A clear set of plant swap rules will help your event to run smoothly. Photograph: Sarah Rouseeau/plantswap.uk.

  • Decide early on what model you want to use: will it be a free-for-all, a one-plant-for-one-plant approach, or a token-based system? Sarah and Fay find the free-for-all approach works well and is the least work, but bear in mind you may have to keep an eye out for the odd person who takes more than their fair share.

  • Find a co-conspirator to organise the event together: it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off each other and share the work!

  • Make sure your swap is accessible to all: including issues such as choosing a venue that’s easy for wheelchairs and children’s buggies to move around, publicising your event in a wide range of ways from physical posters to Facebook, and making sure that people who don’t have plants to swap still feel welcome.

  • Think about how you’ll draw people in: here in the UK, tea and cake usually seems to work! Maybe you could run a workshop before or after the swap, or run the event in a venue where there’s lots of passing foot traffic to draw people in.

  • Work out in advance what you are going to do with any plants left at the end.

How to be a good plant swapper

Make sure you bring healthy plants that are labelled as accurately as you can, follow the rules of the swap and say thankyou to the organisers by helping out with publicity for the next swap or offering a cash donation if that’s appropriate. Check out Plantswap.uk’s extensive info page for more on how their plant swaps work and how to get the best out of them.

How to find a plant swap near you

Checking out social media using the hastag #plantswap is a great way to start. If you are in the US, check the events listing on plantswap.org. If you can’t make it to a swap in person, there are loads of swaps online, including the website houseplantswap.com, and remember you can swap plants on the podcast’s Facebook group, Houseplant Fans of On The Ledge.

Question of the week

Charlotte got in touch to ask for help solving a mysetery Peperomia question: after spotting what she assumed was a Pilea peperomioides in a Montreal cafe, she realised the plant was actually some kind of Peperomia with saucer-like leaves and red stems. I made a stab that the lpant was either P. monticola or Crassula umbella, and Charlotte concluded it was the former. If you know where to get hold of this plant, or you live in Montreal and want to go on a mission to the cafe to see if this plant is still there, let me know!

Want to ask me a question? Tweet @janeperrone, leave a message on my Facebook page or email ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com. The more information you can include, the better - pictures of your plant, details of your location and how long you have had the plant are always useful to help solve your issue!


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Thanks to Kash Prashad for being my ‘right-hand woman’ on this trip. This week's show featured the tracks Roll Jordan Roll by the Joy Drops, An Instrument the Boy Called Happy Day Gorkana by Samuel Corwin, Fire Tree by Axeltree and Overthrown by Josh Woodward. All tracks licensed under Creative Commons. Logo design by Jacqueline Colley.