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4 Easy Ways to Get Free Pilea Plants

Sharing is caring, as they say, but sharing houseplants takes this saying to a whole new level. Because it’s not just about sharing an object, but a living thing that requires care, patience and a certain amount of knowledge on our part in order to thrive. And Pilea is the perfect plant for sharing - it’s not for nothing that its nickname is “the pass it on plant.”

If you haven’t given this plant a try so far, now’s the time to do so. And if you’re still feeling a bit apprehensive about spending money on yet another plant, here is our advice for getting free Pilea cuttings to try your green thumb on.

4 ways to get free pilea plants

1. Ask your friends and colleagues

We get it, this isn’t exactly revolutionary advice. But you never know until you ask. In fact, you may have no idea what plants your family, acquaintances and colleagues have in their homes, especially if you haven’t visited them in a while. So put the word out that you’re looking for some free Pilea plants to expand your collection; then stand back and watch the plant offers pour in. Seriously, Pilea are prolific plants, especially in the summer. So you’re very likely to get more than one offer.

Here’s a short script that you can just paste into your family’s Whatsapp group or in your company’s marketplace Slack channel.

Hi, friends. As some of you may know, I’m really into houseplants. And the one plant that’s missing from my growing collection right now is the gorgeous Pilea peperomioides (you might know it as the Chinese money plant, or the pancake plant). If you happen to have a Pilea producing pups right now, I’d be more than happy to give it a good home. And there might even be some chocolate coming your way, as a big warm thank you. Here’s a short guide on how to propagate this trooper. And it’s totally ok if you don’t have one to share just yet; I just thought I’d ask. Hope you have a nice day!

2. Ask your neighbors for free plants

No, we’re not talking about creepily stalking someone’s front windows or peeking in to see what plants they grow on their window sills.

A much easier and decidedly less intrusive way to ask your neighbors for free Pilea plants is to put out a call in your local online groups.

Freecycle and Buy Nothing Groups are two of the largest community-based sites where people offer things for free. You can find your local Buy Nothing Groups on their official website directory, although nowadays most groups operate on Facebook. And here’s how to find a Freecycle group near you.

You can also join Nextdoor, a platform that connects you with your neighbors on a hyper-local level. (So not just city-local, but even neighborhood-local.) Nextdoor vets its members (to a degree), so you’re more likely to meet someone who lives nearby.

You can modify the asking verbiage above and post it in online groups too. As usual, take a few common sense precautions when meeting internet strangers.

3. Connect with other Pilea lovers on Propa

One disadvantage of using Buy Nothing Groups to get free Pilea plants is that these groups aren’t specifically meant for houseplant swaps. So sometimes you’ll have to scroll through countless posts about free baby supplies and someone giving away an extensive collection of fake Christmas trees (true story!) before you find a few plants on offer.

Enter Propa, an app specifically designed to connect you to other houseplant parents who do have cuttings and plantlets to swap. Propa is a social platform for generous plant people. Once you create a user profile, you’ll be able to list the plants you have to offer, as well as create a wishlist of plants that you’re looking for. You can also follow people that offer plants you’re interested in, chat with other members, ask questions and give advice related to houseplants. And if you’ve opted to share your location, you can even find people in your community to trade plants with.

If you click on a plant profile, Pilea - for example, you’ll be able to see how many props are available for swapping, as well as crowdsourced plant tips to help you navigate tricky topics such as watering, good soil choices, best light conditions and repotting practices.

4. Organize a plant swap

We intentionally left this method for last because it requires a bit more effort. But we promise it’s worth it. Plant swaps are an excellent way to meet other houseplant enthusiasts and grow your plant collection for very little money.

An easy way to do this is by organizing an online plant swap chain. This means that Person A sends a plant to Person B, who then sends a (different) plant to Person C, and so on. At the end of the chain, the person who started it - in our case, Person A - has to receive a plant themselves. Unlike an online swap group, where there are often a handful of people who check the group incessantly and monopolize all the swapping opportunities, the swap chain is fair in that every link in the chain is both a giver and a receiver of plants.

However, the real fun of community building begins when you start organizing in-person events. Logistically, you’ll have to find a location - we found that libraries and parks are good meeting places - and set a day and time. Since this type of event is less flexible than an online swap, you might want to advertise in local online groups or put up flyers in local small businesses to make sure you get enough attendants.

Plant swaps usually work on an honors system, so every participant places their cuttings on the table and then picks cuttings that they would like to take home at the end of the day. You’ll find that people bring more than one cutting, usually, so there’s enough to go round for everybody.

If you want the swap to be a little more organized, you can implement a credits system, where every attendant gets a number of credits (that they can “spend”) based on the number of plants they brought to the swap. One of the side effects of such a rigid system is your swap getting swamped with way too many “easy to propagate” beginner houseplants. (We’re looking at you, spider plants!)

No matter what method you use to get free Pilea plants, keep in mind that sharing is caring. And as soon as your Pilea has pups of its own, don’t forget to be just as generous and pass them on in your community or your circle of friends.

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Garold Rafa
Garold Rafa
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