Top of my list of things to do on a Sunday morning in London has to be visit Columbia Road Flower Market. No matter how much partying I’ve been doing the night before (ha!!); if I’m in central London I’ll get up early to go, look at, photograph, and maybe buy, some of the amazing plants and flowers on offer.
This weekend we went down on Saturday to visit family, and unusually we were staying in a hotel in central London (since we have family dotted around the capital we usually stay with them). Not wanting to pay crazy hotel prices for breakfast, and having a few hours to spare before going to meet my little brother; we ventured out to find food and visit Columbia Road Flower Market.
Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts (image from National Portrait Gallery collection, used by creative commons licence)
In 1837 Burdett-Coutts inherited £1.8 million (over £160 million in today’s money!), and became known as ‘the richest heiress in England’. But she didn’t sit about gossiping with friends and drinking tea……she got busy…
Along with her mate Charles Dickens she founded a home for young women who had ‘turned to a life of immorality’; she built schools, gave money to Irish farmers and fishermen, established a sewing school for women, co-founded the charity which would later become the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), and helped found both the Westminister Technical Institute and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
She even supported the work of Florence Nightingale; built social housing in the Highgate and Bethnal Green areas, was president of the British Beekeepers Society, AND the British Goat Society (or at least that’s what Wikipedia says!). At the age of 67 she married her 27 year old secretary – Go girl!!
By the time of her death in 1906, she’d given away over £3 million to good causes. The king described her as ‘after my mother, the most remarkable woman in the kingdom’.
In his afterword to his novel ‘Dodger’ Terry Pratchett (yes, Terry Pratchett!) wrote that part of the reason for writing the book was to bring Burnett-Coutts to the attention of modern readers! (note to self: read Dodger).
But why have I wandered off on this tangent? Because she’s awesome – and because she was the founder of the Columbia Market in 1869.
A sleepy back street
Based in the Tower Hamlets area of north east London this market hides down an unassuming back street and is only open one day a week, for the other six days it is lined with cars and little goes on. But on a Sunday it’s a very different place.
Traders arrive from about 4am, and the market opens at 8am. My advice, especially if the weather is good, is to get there early – it gets VERY busy. Cafes and independent shops open their doors but are very much overshadowed by the impressive displays of cut flowers and houseplants on the stalls.
Columbia Road Flower Market stalls
Family run stalls (some since the 1950s!) specialise in cut flowers from roses to sunflowers and hydrangeas; others have colourful bedding plants or trollies and trays loaded with cacti and succulents, whilst rows and rows of monstera, rubber plants, yuccas and palms line the sides of the street.
Similar to markets all over Britain, sellers shout their wares, and tourists come for the spectacle as well as to shop.
2 for fiver 5 for tenner
Prices are fantastic, 5 cut sunflowers for £5 (a present for my sister-in-law), 5 succulents for £10 or an abundant string of pearls for only £7. Most stalls take cards and cash, but I had to restrict myself as we were travelling home to Sheffield on the train – I had to be able to carry whatever I bought along with my suitcase!
As well as shouting out prices and descriptions of their plants, stall holders are willing to chat and give advice on care; the whole atmosphere is friendly and fun (the sun was shining so that helped).
Look first, then buy
The whole market is down a single street, so it’s easy to see everything. Many of the stalls sell similar plants, and most are similar prices but you can find a few differences and obviously if you’re looking for something in particular you might have to search a bit.
My advice is to do an initial walk and look at all the stalls, noting (if possible) any plants you’re particularly interested in. Then when you’ve got to the end of the street stop for a much earned cuppa or even breakfast in one of the ace little cafes….then start back up the street to purchase your new plant friends.
And I say ‘friends’ instead of ‘babies’, as with the exception of the tiny succulents, most of the plants for sale are well established and mature. This is why I love Columbia Flower Market so much – I’m buying plants I know are healthy and likely to continue thriving.
Massive selection of pots at ‘In bloom’.
Don’t forget to also pop inside ‘In bloom’, which isn’t a stall but a fantastic little shop selling hundreds of different pots and containers for plants – I could seriously have bought loads of them.
If, like me, you don’t like plastic carrier bags be sure to take a selection shopping bags (look out for plantswap.uk bags coming soon!), and put your money in your pocket – in the crush of people you don’t want to be opening your handbag or wallet all the time.
Actually, a small word of warning; the market is also a magnet for pick pockets and thieves (probably hasn’t changed much since 1869 in that regard!) – so try not to take valuables, and if possible keep an eye on your belongings (I left my hubby in a local cafe with my bags!).
Set a budget
It’s easy to get carried away – how did I end up with two string of pearls!! If you’re on a budget it might be an idea to go with a shopping list, or set yourself a spending limit before you arrive!
Fantastic selection of house plants on Paul’s stall
One stall I could really have got carried away at was Paul’s – London House Plants, they had an amazing display with a wide selection of beautiful large houseplants – I wanted it all!! Look out for a video of Paul’s ‘pitch patter’ on the Sheffield PlantSwap Facebook page.
I kept to within my budget, coming away with two string of pearls and a gorgeous oxalis iron cross (only £5!), as well as the cheery bunch of sunflowers. I could have spent £100s, if I’d had a van to get them home…..maybe next time. Traveling by train actually saved me from myself!
Plant pot signs to guide you to Columbia Flower Market
How to visit Columbia Road Flower Market by public transport
Since it was a warm day we got the bus (I’m not a lover of the tube in hot weather). If you’re in central town the 55 bus from Oxford Circus to Queensbridge Road only takes about 40 minutes and is a lovely way to see some of London. The nearest tube stations are Bethnal Green and Hoxton – both fascinating areas worth an explore too. If you’re travelling from Sheffield it will be a combination of tube from St Pancras (or Kings Cross) to Old Street, and then either a walk or 55 bus.
Next time I’m going to try to spend a bit of time exploring the local area too, a visit to Columbia Road Street Market will probably take up the whole morning – then you’ve got time to find a nice cafe or pub for lunch – if you’re from Sheffield and into street art you might even find some recognisable artwork….
Art work by Phlegm
I’ll put a few more photos from my visit to Columbia Road Flower Market on our Instagram.
Have you been to visit Columbia Road Flower Market? What did you purchase? We’d love to hear about your trip too.
I’ve got a sad looking Asplenium nidus (birds nest fern) that needs some extra care and thought it would be a good subject for a blog post following it’s progress. In fact I think it could be a great starting point for a series on how to revive poorly plants.
House plant clinic
I get given a lot of poorly plants. And I take home unclaimed plants from plant swap. And sometimes I even buy sick plants because I feel sorry for them.
My daughter’s over-watered succulent
Oh and occasionally I slip up and do something silly, neglectful or just plain idiotic…like the time I drowned my daughter’s succulent. But shhhh, that wasn’t me…..!
There is something strangely addictive in bringing back plans from the dead so I thought it might be a good topic for a blog series. You get to see my successes and my failures, and it might encourage you to try a few plant rescues too! These are great all round skills for improving your plant parenting skills.
Oh and hone these skills and the plant bargain shelf will become your playground with ever more extreme challenges to pit yourself against!
Plant Clinic No. 1: Asplenium nidus
This Asplenium nidus aka the birds nest fern is a nice easy one to start with.
I have had the plant for a while now; it hasn’t grown any new leaves and the existing leaves are looking dull and starting to brown and shrivel up.
It needs some TLC and is clearly just one step away from being very unhappy.
Being alert to your plants means that you can take action before your plant declines too far and becomes too sick to fix. This is definitely one of those preventative plant rescue stories rather than a Lazurus arisen from the dead!
1. Symptoms: What is wrong with my Asplenium nidus?
The signs my plant is less than fully satisfied with life are that it has:
Yellow patches on leaves
Brown, crispy leaf tips
Dull and narrow leaves
No new growth
Overall, it is just clearly less lush, less green and less happy than I’d like it to be. Sometimes we don’t realise that our plant is looking unhealthy unless you see a picture of what a healthy plant should look like so it’s always worth googling your plant. The plant on the right below is a healthy specimen thriving in a botanical gardens.
My sad Asplenium nidus (Birds nest fern)
Thriving Asplenium nidus thriving in a botanical gardens
The brown leaf tips are probably a symptom of a general lack of humidity. This plant lives on a bookshelf in indirect light in my bedroom which is not particularly humid so probably is not really meeting it’s needs.
It can survive but it will not thrive without more humidity. Light levels and water levels are probably about right.
Next I ease the pot down to take a look at the roots and it is immediately apparent that the plant is severely pot bound. As in probably never been repotted.
There is so little soil left in the pot that you can see the imprint of pot actually in root ball!
Pot imprint on rootball
It also feels incredibly light and spongy to the touch and although it is slightly moist feeling, there is no soil to actually hold any moisture so the only moisture I’m feeling is really from the plant.
3. Treatment: How do I rescue my Asplenium nidus?
So now I think I know what is wrong with my Asplenium nidus, I can start fixing it.
If you find yourself with a similar situation these are the steps to help the plant recover.
Roots shaken out
The first priority is to release it’s roots by repotting it. This will give it space to grow, increase the amount of moisture available to it from the soil and
Ease the plant out of the pot entirely
Run your fingers through and tease out roots – pretend you are giving a scalp massage!
Be gentle but don’t worry about a few roots breaking, the key is to break them out of their self-made cage so when you repot the plant its roots can grow outwards.
Repot into new larger pot (about 1-2cm bigger) with fresh organic-rich soil.
Appearance and health tracking
Next is to improve it’s appearance so that you don’t have to hide it away! It also is much easier to follow your plant’s health trajectory if you can spot new discolouration because you’ve removed all the previous discolouration. Tracking whether leaves develop brown tips or start yellowing is your first indicator as to whether your treatment has helped.
Remove yellowing, brown, damaged or any other sad looking leaves
Where just the tips are browning, trim with a pair of clean nail scissors. Most plants are perfectly happy with this. The benefits are that it removes unsightly brown tips without sacrificing the whole leaf.
Pro-Tip: If you trim to a point it masks the amputation!
In contrast my poor plant has been languishing in my bedroom with cool, dry air. I’ve definitely not found the right plant for the right place. My fern is going to have to find a new, more humid home.
Bathrooms are ideal as they have the exactly right kind of moist warm environment that these ferns thrive in. Sadly my bathroom is also windowless so that is a wee bit too dark for it. The next best room is the kitchen as that can get pretty humid from cooking, laundry and lots of kettle boiling as we both work from home and drink copious cups of tea!
For now to give it a humidity boost, I water it and sit it on a pebble tray inside a covered glass tank. This is temporary solution for now to give it a boost of humidity and when I see some new growth appearing it can take up permanent residence in the kitchen.
So this is just the start of my plant’s recovery, no miracles will happen overnight so the next part is lots of patience and careful watching. I will post progress pics of this plant on our Instagram so you can follow it’s recovery.
Your plant recovery stories
I’d love to hear about the plants you have brought back from the dead and any tips of tricks you have learnt.
Also any plants that you particularly struggle to keep alive and thriving that you’d like a plant rescue clinic for?
This post distils what I learnt from that experience and focuses on how to propagate Monstera from stem cuttings.
When I pruned my Monstera plant I took around twenty cuttings:
Some of these I thought of as ‘junior’ plants and included the growing tip of the vine, some stem, several mature leaves and aerial roots.
Others were very minimal and simply were short section of stem with no leaves or aerial roots.
The propagation process for both was the same the only difference being that the ‘junior’ plants definitely established themselves more quickly. I was very surprised at how effective the basic stem cuttings were. I had an almost 100% success rate.
Monstera cutting with leaves, aerial roots and stem
Monstera stem cutting with 3 nodes
The 2-minute low down on how to propagate Monstera
How to propogate Monstera deliciosa. What you need: a Monstera deliciosa plant, sharp scissors, a pot of soil or water.
Take a stem cutting
Choose a stem cutting with several nodes or leaves. Some aerial roots are helpful but not essential.
Choose a growing medium
You can propagate your cutting in water or soil. Water works just as well as soil and has the advantage of being easier to check progress.
Warm and bright
Keep your cutting in a warm, bright location.
Keep fresh and moist
If growing in water change the water out regularly. If growing in soil, give it a regular water to keep the cutting moist.
Forget about it!
It may take a while for any growth to sprout especially if you have taken the cutting during the winter dormant period.
When you observe established new growth such as some roots and an unfurled leaf, pot up into a suitable container.
The in-depth 10-minute guide on how to propagate Monstera
If you are like me and the words ‘just bung it in a pot’ spark fear in your heart and you are a certified over thinker (how deep, how long, what soil, where, when, how?????)…..don’t worry! I’ve got you too.
Make yourself comfy and settle down as I address all the little niggles and questions that you have below in detail with lots of photos.
What parts of a Monstera will propagate?
Monstera can be very easily propagated from stem cuttings. When selecting stem, you must look for sections of stem that include at least one node.
The nodes are brownish circular rings on the stem from where a leaf used to be; it is here that new leaves and roots will form. Each nodal area can support one leaf and multiple roots.
Monstera stem with 2 nodes
Monstera stem with new growth sprouting from a node
A section of stem around 20 cm long with 2-3 nodes offers plenty of opportunities to sprout new roots and leaves; the longer the piece the greater its energy store with which to power new shoots.
The smallest piece I have propagated from was probably 5 cm long with one node
If a piece of stem has a leaf sprouting off that is the node; further growth such as roots can spring from there. New leaves on that section will develop from your current leaf’s petiole.
What parts of Monstera won’t propagate
Not all parts of your Monstera plant will propagate to make new monstera babies. This includes:
Leaves with no stem attached
Roots or aerial roots with no stem attached
Stem with no nodes and no leaves
What will help a Monstera cutting establish quickly?
The more parts of the plant that the cutting includes the faster it will become established in its own right. Therefore when selecting where to cut try to include:
Monstera cutting after 6 months on with a mass of new roots
One or more leaves as these help increase its growth potential and the speed with which it will establish itself.
Roots or aerial roots. Aerial roots in water or soil will develop regular roots as offshoots and this will increase the plant’s ability to draw up water and nutrients. Don’t worry if the thick brown outer covering of the aerial roots sloughs off, this is normal.
Just remember that some portion of stem with nodes must be present, trying to plant a leaf will result in nothing!
What affects propagation success?
Overall Monstera cuttings are very tolerant of growing medium, position and conditions but there are definitely variables you can tweak to increase either the likelihood or speed of success.
Time of year
You don’t need to specifically time when you take a cutting but bear in mind that your cutting may be slower to get started in winter when plants are usually dormant.
The first thing to say, is that patience is key. Some of cuttings will root straight away and throw out new leaves in quick succession. Others can go through a long dormancy period. Often Spring will kick start previously dormant cuttings.
See below about how to check that your cutting is still healthy despite it doing bugger all!
Light and warmth
Monstera cuttings benefit from warmth and brightness and will sprout fastest on a warm, bright windowsill. I’ve seen suggested that Monstera cuttings need a heat pad to start them off but in my experience that is not true. However, it is possible that a heat pad might speed up the propagation process.
New leaf sprouting from existing leaf
If in soil they also need to be kept nicely moist but not wet – they don’t like wet feet and will rot. Feel their soil once a week and if it feels dry give them a light drink. There is no need to cover them with a plastic bag as is sometimes suggested.
Size of cutting
Longer or larger stem sections with more nodes tend to produce more new growth with multiple new stems sprouting. This is important as Monstera is a vine plant and grows along one long stem. If your cutting develops leaf sprouts on multiple nodes these will each develop as a stem leading to more bushy growth at a compact size.
Hormone rooting powder
In all honestly, Monstera cuttings are so incredibly easy to root that I don’t recommend using hormone rooting powder.
Stem cutting sprouting a new leaf underwater
The advantage to propagating in water in a glass jar is that you can see any new growth immediately. However larger cuttings that include leaves and aerial roots are probably best going straight into soil.
You can use regular tap water but be wary if your tap water is very hard and do not use artificially softened water. Rain water or distilled water is also be fine. Submerge most of the stem section in water, leaves and roots quite happily sprout in the water.
Monstera stem cuttings potted vertically in soil
Use a light, free draining potting compost and as the plants got older use a more hummus rich mix.
The easiest way and most space efficient way to pot cuttings in soil is to plant stems vertically with just the top inch above the soil.
I worried that some stem nodes needed to be above the surface in order to sprout new leaves but that wasn’t the case at all. New leaves sprouted under the soil level and had no problem pushing to the surface before unfurling.
If you have multiple stem cuttings sharing a pot, then as soon as they start developing new growth you should pot them up on their own. My experiences suggest that Monstera are fairly robust and don’t not object to being disturbed if you handle them carefully.
You don’t need to leave any of the original stem cutting above the soil level and can bury it all for a neater look.
Baby Monstera plant propagated from a stem cutting
Being me, I couldn’t let well alone and kept digging up my cuttings – hence why water works better for me! I was like an enthusiastic puppy worrying a bone…. What I noticed was that I could tell which cuttings were doing OK because they remained firm and a bright green colour.
Signs your so far entirely dormant cutting is actually doing well
Monstera stem just before a new sprout emerges
You will be able to see when your cuttings are getting close to sprouting because..
Sheffield PlantSwap 11 – 9th June at Manor Fields Park
Another fantastic Sheffield PlantSwap, with people coming from across the city to swap plants and to chat and share plant advice.
Can you believe it was our 11th! Thank you to all our returning plant swappers but also huge shout out to the 40 (yes four-zero!) PlantSwap virgins who came along to their first event. I hope you all had fun!
Manor Fields Park
We did things a little differently this time being completely outside, with the sun shining, space to mingle and a very chilled vibe. If you’re not already in the know, Manor Fields Park is a hidden Sheffield treasure. It is well worth a return visit in it’s own right with great walks, wild flowers and masses of bees buzzing around.
Method to our madness!
We’ve grown so much that we’ve started trying to bring some order to the chaos.
I’m pleased to report that you all took pity on us and labelled your plants splendidly. Special mention goes to the Kalanchoe Panda Plant instructions – they were simply the best!
Something we trialled at our last plant swap was separating house and garden plants to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for. We continued with this and Fay made some snazzy new blackboard signs that worked a treat.
Counting plant swappers!
We also devised a way to count people using a big flipchart with stickers. We love knowing how many of you come along, it gives us warm fuzzy feels – but it is notoriously hard to do, like counting cats!
It was not foolproof, not least the fact that there were multiple ways in or out but a big thanks to everyone who did count themselves in. We’ll keep doing this so keep your eyes peeled at the next swap.
Sheffield fame at last
Stories of PlantSwap’s awesomeness have reached the ears of BBC Radio Sheffield’s Kat Cowan. Kat came along and chatted to some of you lovely folk and took some plants home too.
What did you take home from Sheffield PlantSwap?
So how was your PlantSwap? What plants came home with you? Any that you were particularly hoping for? And what did you think of how we are organising PlantSwap now?
Every keen gardener knows of Chelsea flower show, but going down to London is expensive and time consuming. Luckily the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have considered us northerners and we now have two similar (but smaller) shows; Tatton over near Manchester (in July) and Chatsworth.
With Chatsworth House only half an hour away, and the PlantSwap team heroically undertook another field trip so we could bring you a report on RHS Chatsworth – and, of course, share some photos of the amazing gardens and plants we saw!
Getting the bus to RHS Chatsworth
First impressions of RHS Chatsworth
View of the RHS show with Chatsworth house and Garden behind
I visited last year and having experienced the traffic and parking, I was pleased to be able to get the bus – highly recommended as an easy and relaxing way to get there. The added bonuses are that it restricts how much you can spend on plants (as you have to carry them), and if you’re so inclined you can have a cheeky Pimms or G&T at one of the many foodie trucks in the show ground.
RHS Chatsworth is a mini version of Chelsea, so as you’d expect the highlight is the opportunity to see some show gardens. Unfortunately there are only a handful, but they’re still very much worth seeing.
The RHS Chatsworth show gardens
We both really enjoyed the three local BBC Radio gardens, designed by listeners of BBC Radio Sheffield, Derby and Stoke. We got chatting to the husband and wife team who’d designed our favourite – the miners themed Derby garden.
BBC Radio Derby’s wonderful Miners Cottage garden
Nearby were a number of well dressings, a local Derbyshire tradition. These were spectacular, and extremely intricate. Each element of the image is created with flower petals or bits of leaf pressed into a clay back board.
The floral display tent is always well worth an hour or two, earlier in the day is best as it’s not too busy. Nurseries from across the country display their most beautiful plants, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to pick up some unusual varieties.
I’ve recently cleared a large bed in my garden and so decided to buy a lovely hydrangea (they don’t like the soil where I grew up so I’m excited to be able to grow them in my garden), and Fay set her heart on a glorious fox light plum gold foxglove but they’d sold out (although given her history with foxgloves that might be a good thing – I’ll let you ask her about that!!). I also couldn’t resist an astilbe, one of my mum’s favourites.
The displays were mainly garden plants and flowers, with a couple of the stalls having house plants, luckily there wasn’t too much temptation. Although the carnivorous plants were particularly striking, and it was great to see some really impressive air plant displays.
Oak tree by Thomas Perceval
We had a brief wander around the shops, although to be honest it felt like an over priced garden centre. Although a couple stood out, particularly Thomas Perceval’s laser cut wood art of majestic Oak trees around the country – I love trees.
Listening to the wisdom of trees
Talking of trees; there’s a whole tree area – and the chance to actually ‘hear’ a tree from within! I could have stood there for hours.
The other place we spent a lot of time was the Bee Keepers tent. Absolutely fascinating displays about bees, beekeeping and honey in general. We learnt about the invasive Asian Hornet – seriously scary, go have a look and report to their website (actually it’s also worth knowing about as they are nasty and their sting is horrid).
Involving schools and children in gardens, plant care and gardening
A highlight for us were the school sensory gardens using recycled and upcycled materials – we spent lots of time looking at these – so inventive and innovative. I wish we’d done that kind of thing when I was at school. You could vote for your favourite by Tweeting a photo with the hashtag #rhschatsworthschools and if you’d like your kid’s school to get involved in this type of thing the RHS have a whole scheme for School Gardening. Also linked to schools involvement was the Rotary Club plastic bottle greenhouse – constructed from over 1300 2 litre plastic bottles! Not sure how long it would last on a Sheffield allotment, but still a fascinating idea.
Did you visit RHS Chatsworth? What were your favourite bits?
Our advice for a visit is; take a packed lunch (although there are loads of food trucks), a bag (or wheelie box!) to bring home your purchases; and definitely splash out on an ice cream! You’ll need most of the day there to really see everything. We didn’t even have time for all the local food producers stalls, or the demonstrations and talks going on around the showground.
Have you visited RHS Chatsworth or are you going to RHS Tatton this year? We’d love to know what you think, did you buy any plants? What were your favourite gardens?
This is the story of my journey from monstera envy to becoming mother of monsteras. In six months I went from no monstera plants to having more than twenty. This post lets me reflect on all the ways I went wrong and ended up with a certifiable case of plant hoarding!
My mum had a monstera (aka that 70’s staple of home decor the swiss cheese) plant in the 80s that grew to such monstrous proportions that it became the stuff of childhood legend. I remember watering it attentively until it outgrew our house and she sold it for the princely sum of £15.
Fast forward to last year and monsteras were everywhere but I still didn’t have one. And this despite my house acting as a ‘staging post’ for plants between PlantSwap events and crowding every surface. Monstera are just so impressive that I was on a long time hunt for one but so far none had crossed my path.
That is until idly browsing eBay I find a listing for, ‘Large chees plant’ [sic]’.
I thank the gods of eBay for the spelling mistake and the rubbish photo and watch it like a hawk. It is hard to tell what condition it is in but I can see a large pot and a mass of stems and leaves that look green and healthy so it is worth the gamble. I buy it for a fiver.
The journey to collect it is something of an epic trek, as was trying to slide it into the back of my car horizontally without harming any of its beautiful leaves.
How to tame a monstera?
We get it home and I inspect it. It is very large that much is true, but it has also seen better days. It has lost a lot of leaves so it is a mess of sinuous twisting stems ending in a few large, dramatic leaves.
I think about it and on where it will live and decide the best thing to do is a radical prune.
Pruning a monstera
I have to be brave and steel my nerves. It feels criminal to cut off its biggest and most beautiful leaves but as these are at the end of long gnarly stalks it seems to the only option. Every cut and snip it feels like I am killing my beautiful baby.
Now I make my first small step in my slide into plant hoarding…. I start researching propagation. And amazingly monsteras seems exceptionally easy to propagate although as is the way of the internet, the advice is both helpful and contradictory:
some people swear by rooting them in soil, others that water works best;
an old house plant book recommends a heat pad, more recent blogs imply that’s unnecessary,
there is a lot of confusion as to whether it is essential, desirable or unnecessary to have aerial roots on the cutting you are trying to root.
I have so many sections that I can try multiple methods to see what works best. The largest leaves still attached to stems I repot as medium sized plants in their own right. I then cut the long stems into short lengths and pot them up in water and some in soil.
How many monsteras is too many?
And this is how I end up with 24 monsteras in my tiny terrace house that is already overflowing with four kids, a partner and a cat and more plants than you can shake a stick at!
Not all my monsteras are monsters though. I have a lot of baby leaf stem cuttings but even their pots take up a surprising amount of room. So much so that they now inhabit the stairs as well as every window sill and bookshelf.
My biggest issue are my mid-sized plants that are just so beautiful that I can’t bear to get rid of them but they continue to grow and throw out new leaves apace.
Mother of Monsteras
Meanwhile Mama Monstera is happily ensconced on top of my washing machine and has lots of vigorous new growth. I completely repotted her and she seems to have forgiven me for the drastic prune.
When Fay and I started looking around for other plant swaps to visit (yay! more plants!), we found that Rough Trade was hosting a plant swap in Nottingham – only an hour down the M1 from Sheffield.
For those who don’t know, Rough Trade is a record store, but in the Nottingham branch they have an event space – and together with Sap Plants they were hosting a little plant swap and local craft sale.
Firstly, this swap was very different to our Sheffield PlantSwap. We handed our plants over at the table in exchange for a raffle ticket for each (small plants = 1 ticket, larger plants = 2 tickets); we’d only taken a few smaller succulents.
When we were there most of the plants were small, and unlabelled but the woman from Sap seemed very knowledgeable and willing to chat.
We arrived with five small plants, and left with five different ones, including a string of hearts and a some cacti and succulents for Fay’s children. We saw someone arrive with a few monstera cuttings, but since Fay currently has a small monstera jungle growing (look out for these at our future swaps), and I think the two I have are enough for me – we resisted!
We’d arrived early, but as we left more plants were appearing and it was starting to get busy. There appeared to be a wide range of plants, and it looked like being a good day for everyone there.
Since we were early we decided to wander round the other stalls. A number of lovely local makers, but with a plant related theme to their products.
We have to give a shout out to some of the makers, especially since you also might like some of their lovely things…..
In no particular order, and if I’ve missed anyone I’m sorry….
Katrina Sophia is an illustrator and designer-maker. I love her cards and prints (I bought a wonderful card to send to a friend). I’m also trying very hard to resist the temptation to buy one of the cute little botanical ceramic necklaces.
Dolly Loves Dallas isn’t plant related, but my friends and relatives are very likely to be getting some of her products for Christmas or birthdays! The jointed paper pop culture dolls are fantastic, but for me the best things on the stall were the bunting. Illustrations of pop culture icons heads in a string – who wouldn’t want Bowie, Grayson Perry or Donnie Darko decorating their living room? I’m trying to decide which one.
I don’t have much wall space in my house, but if I did there would be space for one of the ladies in Lena’s illustrations, almost certainly the one with the monstera leaves. They’re simple yet very striking, especially the use of colours.
Another illustrator, Bethany Leah Jones is all about the plants – and to be honest I think I’d like to live in one of the rooms in her illustrations! Actually, two of them could be me, and Fay!
When you’ve got lots of plants, you need lots of pots. So we were both very taken with Sophie Jarram’s ceramic pots for succulents (we loved the jewellery too). Simple let so very stylish.
I love silver jewellery, and if it’s got a monstera shape I love it even more!! Cyrilyn Silver’s jewellery ticks both boxes, and also has some fantastic silver rings too (I couldn’t resist). For the plant lover these are a simple but beautiful way to show your love of monstera – and who doesn’t love a cheeseplant? She also does workshops if you fancy learning to make your own jewellery.
Last but not least, something that definitely appeals to me – plants you can’t kill and that don’t need watering!! Little Egg make material plants. Wonderful life like felt creations for spaces in your home were a plant might not thrive, or as a gift for that friend or relation who doesn’t have green finger.
The amazing graffiti’d toilets at Nottingham Rough Trade – with a bonus plant swap addition!
Overall thoughts on the trip
If I were to have one criticism of the event it was that the majority of the stalls were upstairs – I’m told there is a lift, but the building didn’t really lend itself to disabled access (not a massive thing, but something we are sure we consider when choosing venues). It was definitely worth the trip down the M1, and I have a feeling you’ll be hearing about more little ‘PlantSwap Roadtrips’ in the future.
Have you been to other swaps? We’d love to hear about your experiences. What have you liked? What have you thought worked well at other swaps?
Are you coming along to your first Sheffield PlantSwap to swap house or garden plants? Want to know what to expect, how the plant swap works and what to bring? Or maybe you have been before but aren’t quite sure how it works…
PlantSwap has grown organically from a group of friends swapping house plants to something much bigger and busier. And we love how popular swapping plants has become but popularity brings challenges too. This is our first attempt at explaining some of the things that help PlantSwap run smoothly.
First and foremost is the principle that PlantSwap is open, inclusive and welcoming to everyone.
Fay and Sarah
We set up PlantSwap to encourage more people to enjoy and connect with plants and to help newbies could get started. This means that we do not do a straight up ‘plant for a plant’ exchange.
Because we realise that everyone is at different points in their plant journey, from just setting out to having houses overflowing with plants, we ask people to bring what they can, take what they like and pay what they feel.
So if you have no plants to exchange you are still welcome to take a plant but simply make a donation in exchange. Your donation goes towards the running costs of PlantSwap.
What to do before the plant swap
Label your plants so that people know what they are and pot them up so it is easy for people to take them home.
Fay and Sarah
Label your plants. (Pretty please!) We love a mystery plant as much as the next plant hoarder but we want to be inclusive and encourage new plant parents. So if you know what type of plant is please label it. Even if you don’t know exactly what it is any clues are useful!
Add other useful information Similarly, add more information about how to look after the plant and what conditions it likes. You could also add the name of the gifter (you!)- it is nice to be able to say thank you via the Facebook group.
Separate and label outdoor or indoor plants At the swap indoor and outdoor plants go on different tables so please label them so that volunteers put them in the right place.
Use individual pots Use individual pots so they are easy for people to take away. Multiple plants in one pot or multi-pots joined together may get left or may get taken all in one go. This doesn’t mean you have to give away precious plant pots – yoghurt pots, tins and takeaway cups all recycle well as temporary containers!
Prepare unrooted cuttings or cuttings in water Prepare cuttings by bringing these wrapped in damp kitchen towel and a plastic bag or container. This helps people get them home without damaging them.
You can bring more than just plants! PlantSwap is not only about plants! You can bring pots, tools, seeds and anything else plant-related that you think another plant lover could re-home.
Post pictures on the PlantSwap Facebook group It’s very exciting seeing what people are bringing to the next swap so post pictures of your swaps to our Facebook group. (But please don’t pre-arrange swaps, it’s not fair to people who just come along on the day).
What to do at the plant swap
Remember that for the swap to be successful everyone has to feel that they have benefited so don’t take all the best plants just because you can.
Fay and Sarah
Pay as you feel entry We always want to feel open and inclusive to all so we don’t charge an entry fee. However setting up, organising and advertising PlantSwap costs both time and money so we ask you to pay as you feel for entry.
Arrive before the start time Arrive early so you can put your plants out before the swap. Sarah and I will be there half an hour early to help with this (and yes we will be changing our advertising to better reflect this – we are learning as we go too!).
Try not to arrive at the end… You can turn up at any time during the swap but to have the full amount of choice, make sure you arrive at the beginning of the swap….towards the end there are lots of spider plants!
No swapping before the start We want to be fair so no swapping plants or arranging deals before the start.
When new people and plants arrive Please don’t swoop down on people as they arrive – give them space to unload their swaps onto the tables. This gives everyone a chance to look and people don’t feel they’ve been mobbed!
Choose some lovely plants to take home We want to spread the plant love so choose some plants you love the look of. We don’t dictate how many plants anyone takes but please remember to only take what you can look after.
Be awesometo each other You are all awesome anyway but take extra care to be considerate, and kind. Remember that for the swap to be successful everyone has to feel that they have benefited so don’t take all the best plants just because you can.
What if I don’t have any plants? If you’ve just started out with owning plants – welcome! You don’t need to bring something to swap, there will be plenty of time for that in the future. Instead, take what you feel you can manage, ask for advice and suggestions, and make a donation towards running costs. If all goes well, by the next swap you might have some plant babies or some cuttings to bring.
Donations If you feel that you are benefiting by more than you brought then please make a donation that covers that difference. And add an extra bit if you are feeling all warm and fuzzy at how wonderful and friendly PlantSwap is.
What to do after the plant swap
Stay and chat, say thank you and follow us on social media to find out more.
As you’re leaving pose with your plant (if you like)! Sarah will be asking people who are leaving if they are happy to be photographed with their plant. It’s not required but if you’re not shy please get in front of the camera! We post plants and people pictures from all our swaps on Instagram and on here on our PlantSwap gallery pages.
Stay for tea, cakes and plant chat Don’t rush off, there are usually lots of plant people happy to chat plants, give advice and have a friendly cuppa.
Get advice on looking after your new plant Completely at sea with owning a plant? Or just want to make sure that you get your new plant off to the best start? Check out our ultimate guide to keeping your house plant alive and plant care blog.
Say thank you in the Facebook group It’s nice to say thank you in the Facebook group. Post pictures of the plants you’ve taken home and give updates on their progress. The group is also a great place for advice and to help ID mystery plants.
What if I want to run my own plant swap? Drop us a line! We’re happy to talk if you’ve got a venue/location in mind, or if you’re from out of town we can give advice on setting up a swap in your city/town. At the moment we aren’t looking for further venues/dates in Sheffield, but we’re always interested in ideas and recommendations.