Photo by Melody

Let's Trade Some Plants

By Paul Rodman (paulgrowSeptember 16, 2014

One of the best ways to acquire new plant material or to get rid of excess plants is to conduct a plant exchange or swap. It can be a very simple event or you can get as elaborate as you desire. Here's a photo story of one such event, held in south eastern Michigan on a sunny fall morning.

Gardening pictureWhen I started writing for the local paper some four years ago, I approached my editor and suggested that we have a plant exchange in the newspaper parking lot. It would be a good way to promote my new column and an excellent opportunity for gardeners to get together and make new friends and trade some plants. Now some 4 years and 8 exchanges later I’m happy to report that the event has been an overwhelming success.

Here in the Midwest we hold our spring exchange the Saturday before Mothers Day; and the fall event is the third week in September.

Depending on your location you should adjust the timing as to the proper time to transplant perennials.

All it takes to set up a plant exchange is a couple of folks or a group interested in swapping some plants. It could be a garden club, PTA, Master Gardener group, etc.

All you need is a parking lot on a Saturday morning. School, church, shopping centers are excellent locations to hold such an event and local businesses are usually eager to help out because it brings additional traffic to their business.

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All you need is a parking lot. Folks can trade right out of
their trucks or cars.


It's a good idea to provide refreshments if possible. Many local businesses will donate refreshments. Krispy Kreme has been donating coffee and doughnuts since we began. McDonald's donates orange drink for the kids.

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A hot cup of coffee and a doughnut are always welcome.

It's a good idea to make a sign out of posterboard and list what you have to trade and what plants that you are looking for.
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A sign and a helper helps a lot

The most popular form of transportation are wagons or carts; they make hauling away your finds easier.
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Borrow the kid's wagon, they won't mind a bit
Isn't it amazing what folks can pack into a small car?
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Ibet she used a shoe horn.

Be sure to ask the local Master Gardeners for a volunteer or two to be on hand to answer questions, they'll be glad to do it. They also have informative handouts.
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Master Gardeners love to help out at these type of events.

It's a good idea to include something for the kids. Sometimes you can get a clown to volunteer their services.
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The winner of the sunflower contest.

You meet some really great people who grow things outside of the everyday arena.

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Hydroponically grown zinnias for all to see.

A unique way to grow plant

We don't allow any dealers at our events, only garden clubs and non-profit organizations.
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A local Garden Club selling their home made herbal soaps.

It's a good idea to set up a free table. Folks can leave plants or seeds that they don't want to take home.

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Good stuff on the free table

So that's it in a nutshell: how to conduct a plant exchange. It's not too early to begin to plan one for next spring. It would also be great for a DG "Roundup" GOOD LUCK TRADING!

Paul's Garden Tip
A great inexpensive plant marker can be made from old mini-blind slats. Cut them to the desired length and be sure to use a permanet marker to write the plant ID. They hold up very well in the weather.
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(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 9, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.) 

  About Paul Rodman  
Paul RodmanPaul Rodman has been gardening for over 45 years. He is an Advanced Master Gardener, and American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian. He is President Emertius of the Western Wayne County Master Gardener Association in Wayne County, Michigan. He currently serves as the greenhouse chairman of this group. Rodman has amassed over 5500 volunteer hours in the Master Gardener program. Rodman is the garden columnist for The News Herald newspaper, in Southgate, Michigan. He has also written for the Organic web site. He is a certified Master Canner and has taught classes on Home Food Preserving for 7 years. He has lectured on various gardening topics throughout southeastern Michigan. His favorite pastime is teaching children about gardening. For the past several years he has conducted classes for second grade students teaching them about subjects ranging from vermi-composting to propagation.

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