PHS Plant Swaps are Back!

Do you have a plant that isn’t sparking joy? Bring it to Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s (PHS) monthly Plant Swaps at the PHS Pop Up Garden at South Street. This free family-friendly event is a monthly Happy Hour for plants that could use a new life and an opportunity to meet fellow gardeners that can use a $5 margarita.

Sponsored by Solo Real Estate for the 4th consecutive year, the PHS Pop Up Garden on South Street is resuming its popular in-person plant swap programming this month after a brief hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The PHS Plant Swaps offer attendees a chance to swap their unwanted plants and clippings for a new plant to bring home while meeting other plant enthusiasts. PHS will also have Master Gardeners from various horticultural organizations in attendance who will help identify plants and provide tips to keep them healthy. Register to attend the first plant swap on July 20, 2021 by clicking here.

Fellow plant enthusiasts meet up for a monthly Plant Swap at the PHS Pop Up Garden courtesy of Solo Real Estate. Participants bring plants from home and exchange them for plants and cuttings while socializing at the popup garden. Photo: Tom Gralish / Philadelphia Inquirer
Fellow plant enthusiasts meet up for a monthly Plant Swap at the PHS Pop Up Garden courtesy of Solo Real Estate. Participants bring plants from home and exchange them for plants and cuttings while socializing at the popup garden. Photo: Tom Gralish / Philadelphia Inquirer

How does it work?

Arrive early if you wish to be among the first to pick out whatever you want from the swapping table. Don’t bring dead or sick plants, just ones that are no longer perky or that you no longer want. If you bring cuttings, put them in a small bag. For larger cuttings, wrap the roots in a damp paper towel. Label them with the name of the plant and care instructions.

Once the event starts participants will put plants on the table and everyone will walk around browsing and choosing what plants to swap. If you prefer, you can hold onto your plants and try to make specific trades.
Remember, plant lovers expect an equal trade. They are not going to swap their rare orchid for a spider plant clipping. If you want something exotic, bring something of equal value. Only take as many plants as you bring. If there are leftovers and you stay around to the end, you may take more. Those who don’t have any plants to share should wait until the end before choosing a plant. PHS also brings in plants to give away during these events to make sure there’s plenty to go around. If you take home a plant and it doesn’t work out, bring it back to the next Plant Swap.

Plant Swap Schedule

Tues July 20 – Rain Date Mon July 26
Tues Aug 3 – Rain Date Mon Aug 9
Tues Sept 7 – Rain Date Mon Sept 13
Tues Oct 5 – Rain Date Mon Oct 11
*The Plant Swaps will be held monthly from 6 to 8 pm. Come by to swap a plant, meet the Solo team and enjoy beer, cocktails & food until the garden closes at 10pm!

Become a Master Gardener

Do you live in Philly and love gardening? You can become a Master Gardener. The Penn State Master Gardener Program is a volunteer program that educates on best practices in sustainable horticulture and environmental stewardship. The next training class starts in October 2021. 

No prior experience is required. All volunteers go through 40-60 hours of Basic Training in horticultural science. Trainees must then complete 50 hours of volunteer service within their first year to achieve their official Master Gardener certification. Master Gardeners maintain their certification by completing 20 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education each year. Want to learn more? Attend an info session and see if this is for you.

Whether you’re a new plant parent or a seasoned master gardener, ultimately Plant Swaps are about community. To see what the excitement is all about, join us for an upcoming plant swap or check out the Philly Plant Exchange group on Facebook where fellow local gardening enthusiasts regularly swap plants, cuttings and share success stories.

A Philadelphia Renters Guide to Houseplants

Nothing livens up an apartment more than plants. Whether you already know how to coax blooms out of a reluctant amaryllis or have a reputation as a serial plant killer, Philly has knowledgeable plant shops throughout the City, ready to help. 

Choosing the right houseplants for your apartment is like going on a first date. It’s not just about what looks good to you. It’s about matching your space and preferences to the plant’s needs. To make the process easier, we have provided a list of things to keep in mind. Jot down your answers and take them with you when you visit a plant shop. 

Before you go

Be prepared to answer questions: 

  • What kind of sun exposure do you have – east, west, north or south? 
  • Is the light blocked by any tall buildings or trees? 
  • Do you want a high, medium or low maintenance plant?  
  • Will plants be on window sills, in window boxes, hanging, or on the floor?  
  • Do you have pets?
  • Do you prefer succulents, tropical plants or exotics?
  • What is your plant budget?

South Philly

“Most people are beginners,” said Tara Alexander, owner of Urban Jungle in East Passyunk.  “They do best with hardy plants like pothos, philodendrons and snake plants which do not need a lot of care and require less light. These plants tell you when they need water. They droop!”

If you travel a lot or simply can’t be bothered with weekly upkeep, start with a snake plant. “They thrive on neglect,” quipped Alexander. A once-a-month watering will do. Plus, snake plants will rise to new heights, up to three feet tall. Alexander recommends placing your snake plant on a stand for a more dramatic effect.

Before you pick out an artisanal ceramic container, Alexander advises taking your plant home in its original pot and living with it for a while. “Some plants do better in smaller containers, others need to be transferred to a larger pot. Give it some time before making a change,” she said.

These days, everyone wants a kitchen herb garden even if they live on take-out. Urban Jungle will be getting herbs closer to Spring, but cautions that they are not easy to grow. “Herbs are outdoor plants that like heat during the day and cool nights. They need a windowsill with a lot of sun,” said Alexander. “A grow light and a humidifier will help, especially in winter.”  

Undecided? Pick up an Urban Jungle Houseplant Grab Bag – four “mystery” plants for $40.


Located in the heart of Fairmount, Plants Etc. is an adorable little shop with a big heart. Established in 1982, owner Dana Kalens designs and delivers some of the classiest window boxes in town, as far as Fishtown. (Speaking of classy, she also does the window foliage at Rittenhouse Square fashionista destination Sophy Curson.)

Known for its specials on Foliage Fridays and Succulent Saturdays, Kalens also offers DIY kits for making your own succulent garden in a glass bowl. Pair that with a bottle of cabernet and a few friends and it’s a party! Not into DIY? No problem. Kalen’s will have a succulent garden ready for pickup or delivery.

This is also the place to get colorful geraniums for your terrace or a tall statement plant indoors. Big things happen in this little shop!

Northern Liberties

City Planter owners Mary Costello and Peter Smith channel their 25 years of horticultural experience into making novices feel confident. “We will give you advice on how to keep your plants alive, even if you don’t have a green thumb,” said Costello.

During the pandemic, the store has been closed to the public for indoor shopping but their online shop continues to offer a wide variety of houseplants of all shapes and sizes, including African violets, Bonsai plants and herbs.

Check out their Garage. There you will find a selection of plants and containers that don’t come up to the standards for sale in the shop but are still worthy of love. Grab a bargain for bubkas. 100% of proceeds from the Garage go towards organizations in need.

East Falls

Vault & Vine combines a café and small scale event venue with a lush selection of houseplants. It feels like something you’d expect to find in SoHo or Paris, not on Midvale Avenue in East Falls. Originally launched as Falls Flowers in 2009 at another location, the owner Peicha Chang made the leap to her current concept and location in 2017.

“We promise houseplants that are almost impossible to kill,” said Chang. “And we’ll help find plants tailored to your unique space.”

Want to be surprised? Become a member of Vault & Vine’s Plant of the Month Club, a three-month subscription. Each plant comes potted in Organic Mechanics soil and includes an instructional video to help you succeed. You can pick low maintenance, pet safe and air purifying.  Members receive their plants the second week of every month by pickup or delivery. Subscriptions – which make a great gift – fill up fast.

Ultimately, the plants you bring into your apartment are a reflection of your personality and style. Delicate or audacious. Whimsical or seductive. Graceful or prickly. They will grow with you, change with the seasons and reciprocate your nurturing care.