The Ultimate Guide to Organizing and Hosting a Plant Swap
A plant swap is a fun and budget-friendly way to get new plants and meet other plant lovers. Check our Calendar for events – but if you don’t see any nearby, here’s how you can host your own:
Plan early, decide who to invite, and set some rules. Next, find a good location, and ask around for co-sponsors who can help add value to the event. Promote your swap on social media, local papers or online. Free plant swap templates and guidelines are available on PlantSwap.org. Before the event, check with the venue and get extra supplies like compostable bags, tablecloths, labels and markers. On the day, welcome people and explain how the swap works. Encourage mingling and answering questions. At the end, thank everyone, donate leftover plants, and send a thank-you message to attendees!
For a more detailed step by step guide, keep reading…
1. Plan Early
A successful plant swap requires advanced planning and promotion. Think about who you’d like to invite – is this just for your friends, a social club, your school, or for a wider audience? Brainstorm ideas and get as many other people involved in the planning stages as possible – you’ll be surprised how quickly things can grow!
Ideally you should start planning at least four weeks in advance, and promoting your event at least 2-3 weeks in advance. This will not only give people time to mark their calendars, but also allow them enough time to prepare their plants, especially if they’re planning to bring cuttings. Cuttings need time to get over the initial shock and start putting out roots.
Pick the “Rules” – for casual swaps with only a few guests, you can just encourage everyone to mingle and work out fair trades among themselves. For bigger swaps, don’t worry about reinventing the wheel – just check out our “Plant Swap Event Rules” page, and print some copies or post a link for your guests to read.
2. Secure a Venue
Once you have an estimate of your attendees, the next step is to find a suitable venue. Ideally, a plant swap should be in a spacious, well-lit, and easily accessible location. Local cafes, outdoor beer gardens, or community centers could be great venues for your event. Approach the management of these places and discuss your idea. Some might agree to host the event for free or a minimal cost, especially if it aligns with their brand or if they see potential in attracting new customers.
3. Partner with Local Entities
Consider partnering with local extension offices, plant shops, or artisans. These entities can add value to your event and help with promotion. You may even be able to find co-sponsors that help cover the costs in exchange for shout-outs and cross-promotions.
Local extension offices can provide expert advice and educational materials about plants. If you don’t have a local extension office, your local library may also be interested in sharing some knowledge! Plant shops might want to set up a small booth, or offer discounts for your attendees.
Artisans who create plant-related products, like planters or plant-themed jewelry, can add a unique charm to your event and attract a wider audience. Local food vendors or bakeries might be willing to offer snacks for sale, which would make things more deliciously enjoyable for all.
Just don’t forget to communicate with the venue management throughout this process to make sure they’re okay with accommodating all planned activities!
4. Promote Promote Promote!
Promote your event through social media or any platform that your target audience frequently visits. Some places to post: library, cafes, laundromat bulletin boards, school newsletter, local papers. If your event is a free opportunity for the community, you could reach out to local radio stations, newspapers, schools, churches, and any other social clubs or organizations and ask them to mention it in to their audiences.
Don’t forget to encourage any co-organizers or vendors to promote too! Sometimes people have a hard time coming up with what to say, so to make it extra easy for them you could provide the content yourself.
Need ideas? Check out our FREE Plant Swap Packet page for:
– Flier Templates for printing or online newsletter
– Social Media Graphics for online sharing
– Guest Guidelines for what to bring and expect
– Plant Care Basics* for beginners
– Pest and Disease Check* guidelines (VERY important!)
– Guest Contact Info collection form to follow up, and invite to future events
– Feedback form to learn what everyone loved, or what you could improve
*We strongly suggest having copies of the “Plant Care Basics” and “Pest and Disease Check” available for your guests to read or take home on the day of the event!
5. The Days Before The Event
Check in with the venue management, co-organizers, and other vendors to make sure things will go as planned.
Get extra supplies ahead of time. Some suggestions: tablecloths to protect surfaces from dirt or water spills, trash bags and paper towels for cleanups, pen or marker and paper or post-its for labeling areas and plants, extra bags for people to take things home in (ideally, try to find compostable plant-based bags instead of plastic ones), and a box or two for transporting any leftover plants at the end of the day.
Send out updates on social media, and to anyone whose contact info you have, to remind them about the exciting event – and suggest they invite their friends as well.
6. Day of the Event
Setup: On the day of the event, arrive early to set up. Clearly mark areas for any vendors or co-organizers. Post any info fliers, and make sure table surfaces are either waterproof or protected by plastic tablecloths.
You may also want to set up a table for “freebies”, along with a sign to please only take one. Often times at our swaps we’ve found that some people are happy to just unload a few plants without taking anything home, or they can’t stay for the full event but want to contribute anyway – and a clearly marked FREE table will make this simpler.
Start: As the host, make sure to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Start the event by thanking the venue management for hosting, and explaining how the swap will work. Introduce any co-sponsors, and break the ice by sharing some personal plant anecdotes. If it’s a small group and you want to encourage everyone to chat, you can try asking everyone questions like:
– What plant have you owned the longest?
– Who helped you start your plant journey, or what got you interested in the first place?
– What’s your dream plant you’d love to have, if space and money wasn’t an issue? Get creative – indoor avocado tree in a custom greenhouse? Imaginary pink monstera? Your own Audrey II?
Throughout the event, ensure that everything runs smoothly and fairly. Be available to answer questions and solve any issues that may arise. Encourage attendees to mingle and discuss their plants – after all, one of the goals of a plant swap is to facilitate connections between plant enthusiasts.
6. Wrap Up
As the event comes to a close, thank everyone for coming and encourage them to clean up their areas. If there are any plants left over, you could offer them to attendees or donate them to a local school or nursing home. And if you found this guide useful, please consider giving PlantSwap.org a shout-out and letting everyone know about our network!
7. Follow Up
After the event, consider sending out a thank-you note or message to all attendees. You could also ask for feedback to make your next plant swap even better. If you took photos during the event, share them on your social media platforms and don’t forget to tag your venue and partners.