You Know What’s Better Than a Plant Swap? A Plant Swap PARTY
A swap party is a fun way to get free plants. Here’s everything you need to know to host your own.
The minute I heard the words “plant swap party” I knew I had to hear more. I was writing a story about the coolest plant stores in the West, and one of them, Carrie Lynn’s plant store in Las Vegas, was well known for throwing swapping events. So what is a plant swap party, exactly? “It’s an opportunity for local plant lovers to come together, meet each other, and exchange plant clippings, full plants, even pots, seeds, and garden tools,” says Brooklyn Martell, owner of Carrie Lynn’s.
It turns out Martell was hosting plant swaps even before she had a store. “Back in 2017, everyone in Las Vegas who loved plants was just on Instagram,” says Martell, who opened Carrie Lynn’s in 2019. “So my friends and I got on skateboards and handed out plant swap flyers. I posted more flyers at vegan restaurants and coffee shop community boards, and then I created an Instagram account. I even knocked on doors and people would be like, ‘Come inside I want to show you my plant collection!’”
Her first event ended up attracting about 50 people at a tiny home community where the now-deceased Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh lived at the time. Later events swelled to over 200 attendees. “Some people bring tables and put up elaborate displays,” says Martell. “Some bring wagons. Others just have one or two things, or just come to give things away. I think plant people live in abundance—and plant people like plant people.”
Of course, a plant swap can be as big or as small as you want it to be. Whether it’s a larger event like the ones Martell throws, or in your own home, here’s how to host your own plant swap party.
1. Pick a location.
If you’re doing it at home, congratulations, you have a location! If you want to arrange a larger plant swap, Martell suggests a bar with an event area or even a retail store—any place where the owner can make money during your event. “I tried to find cool places downtown, so one time we did it at a record shop,” she says. “I brought an 8-foot bird of paradise so if you bought records you got a [raffle] ticket in the bowl. We also did a bar downtown with an event space out back, so they were able to sell drinks.”
2. Start inviting people and tell them to begin getting their swaps ready.
Martell advises sending a save the date at least a month in advance and telling friends to get their cuttings started so they’ll have roots. (If you don’t know how to propagate plants, here’s a handy guide.) People can also paint their own pots, gather old garden tools—anything plant-related they may want to trade. Ceramicists can make their pots by hand.
3. On the day: Bring the same level of plant or accessory you want to swap.
Beginners might be happy swapping a Pothos or propagated Monstera, while those who bring exotic plants will be more choosy. “Another really good practice is to label your plant,” says Martell. She recommends listing both the botanical name and the common name, along with care instructions.
4. Keep in touch with your new plant friends.
“Add your Instagram handle to your plant label because it’s really fun to be able to keep in touch with the person who got your plant and they can check in with you to like, ‘Hey, here’s three-months progress!’” Martell says. And why not? Your new plant parent buddy will thank you for the baby pics. Happy swapping!