When taking inventory of the many houseplants you may have collected over the years, it could be that you find yourself overrun, especially if you bring plants indoors for the winter. If you are like me, what to do with all of them suddenly becomes an issue.

It goes without saying (but I'm gonna say it anyway) that a true gardener experiences less failure keeping plants alive than those without the gift of a green thumb. Therefore, we are the ones with plants brimming over on our windowsills, shelves, and in our greenhouses.

Furthermore, the nurturer in us often cannot bear to allow babies to die. I see this over and over again, especially in the homes of women. Baby aloes, baby spider plants, baby kalanchoe pups—anything that can be picked off and propagated—usually is.

There comes a time (and for me that time is now) to ask some questions:

1. What am I propagating these babies for?

2. Do I have the space and time to take care of many young plants on a continual basis?Image

If space limits your options for keeping all of your houseplants, here are some ideas for reducing their numbers in a thoughtful manner:

1. Give away your plants

Place potted houseplants in a box with low sides and a sign that says "Free". Take the box to your workplace or to an appropriate social gathering. This never fails to solve my "too many houseplants" dilemma. It helps to wrap the bottoms of the pots in plastic or to rubber-band a baggie over the drainage holes (because not everyone loves soil like we gardeners do). A big plus would be to label the plants with proper and/or common names. One place that always takes my extra plants is a local thrift store run by a ministry to the poor.

2. Gift your plants

The specimens that are the loveliest make wonderful gifts, especially for a housewarming. Spruce them up with a ribbon or place them in an outer decorative planter. Be aware of toxicity and be mindful if small children and/or pets are in the picture. It helps to know the interests of the recipient. Would he or she enjoy a plant, or would it just be a bother to take care of?

3. Trade your plants

Dave's Garden has plant trading going on all the time. It just takes a little time to browse around the site and to get to know the process including posting what you have and what you want. How to package and ship plants is vitally important and can be found by clicking here, courtesy of the many fine members on the Plant Trading forum.

4. Sell your plants

A bit more ambitious and time-consuming, selling your plants is one way to answer the two questions above. Online selling is becoming increasingly popular. Two places that immediately come to mind are Ebay and Etsy.

It only takes a few clicks to become an Ebay or Etsy seller.

Then it takes a few hours of reading and browsing the sites to familiarize yourself with the processes and procedures. It sure helps to print out any information those sites have for sellers.

I have found that any initial worries about becoming a seller on Ebay or Etsy diminish with frequent visits to those sites. Many people buy things online. Why not become a seller, too? Anyone can do it.

A digital camera is necessary—to show your prospective buyers your wares—but it need not be an expensive camera. A point-and-shoot camera will do the job nicely.

An online account for sending and receiving money will be necessary. Establishing a PayPal or similar account is very easy. As mentioned above, continued visits to these sites will ease the fear of using them.

In addition to concerns about having the space for many plants, having the time is equally important. Caring for plants is time-consuming, but it is a matter of choice. For some folks, two hours a day would be an excessive amount of time spent on houseplants. For others, it is time that is lovingly spent. This question can only be answered by the individual.


I believe a gardener's tastes and interests grow and change just as his or her plants do. What excited me a few decades ago no longer does, probably due to familiarity. Nevertheless, there are new adventures in gardening that I am just beginning to discover. This is one more reason to move out some of the old standby plants—to make room for the new specimens. All within reason, of course.