A Facebook group for exchanging cuttings and seeds called Troque ta plante, it was started by Bordeaux PhD student Sarah Roux, who admits she is “mad” about houseplants.
“I had already started swaps with family and friends, and I thought it might work on Facebook, locally to me.
“I never expected it to grow as it has done. There are now more than 100 groups, not only in France, but also in Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. There is even one in New York.”
Anyone interested can check if there is a Facebook Troque ta plante group in their area, join, and then post details of any plant they have to offer, or see if there is something to interest them.
Members then organise where and when to exchange among themselves.
Only plant donations and swaps are allowed – no sales are permitted.
Ms Roux says indoor plants are particularly fashionable at present, and as prices in garden centres have escalated, this can be a good way of finding new ones without breaking the bank. “You can sometimes get hold of rare plants if you are lucky. My plant collection has exploded. It is not restricted to houseplants, but gardens too.
“People also put plant pots and display shelving on the site – everything anyone with a love of plants might be interested in. In addition, I am adding more and more tutorials on plant care.”
As well as being economical, it is ecological and sociable, Ms Roux adds.
“You meet people with the same interests. I have made lots of friends, and when they hand over a plant, you always get the story behind it, which makes it much more personal than buying from a shop.
“It also means you do not end up with yet another plastic pot from the garden centre.”
Ms Roux is keen to hear from anyone who wants to set up a group if there is not one already in their area: facebook.com/Troquetaplante.