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‘Take A Plant, Leaf A Plant’

Jamie Lusch/Mail Tribune Kyson Whittington, 2, helps his mom, Christina Whittington, restock a plant-sharing station at their home in Phoenix.

A green thumb who already enjoyed sharing her love of plants on social media, Phoenix resident Christina Whittington decided to add some “real life” appeal to her favorite hobby.

Setting up a newly minted “Take a Plant, Leaf a Plant” station in her neighborhood, Whittington hopes to encourage new plant collectors and help longtime green thumbs expand their collections.

Much like the concept of Little Free Libraries, from which patrons take a free book or leave one to share with others, the concept was one that Whittington had heard about a handful of times.

Whittington’s plant setup operates in much the same way as the little libraries, and it has already sprouted some interest with local houseplant and gardening enthusiasts.

“Last year my husband and I came across the idea on Pinterest, or somewhere online, and we thought, ‘That looks like so much fun, we’re definitely doing that,’” Whittington said.

“Then my sister-in-law found some old ‘Nickel’ newsstands for free. We repurposed them into plant stands, and we put the first one outside our house. My husband made the little sign, and I posted about it in my plant groups that I’m in.”

Within days of its debut — give or take a tiny hiatus for the recent cold snap and unexpected April snow flurries — a menagerie of houseplants, veggies and landscape plantings appeared like a gift from Mother Nature.

Located near the corner of Fifth and B streets in Phoenix, the tiny stand has thus far hosted a menagerie of goodies from hanging vines to veggies. Initial installments, courtesy of Whittington, included at least one golden pothos, a satin pothos and an adonsonii monstera.

Drop-offs from good Samaritans have included spider plants, a respectably sized marble pothos, pansies, an elephant vine and some bean starts.

Bethany Lemon of Medford said the idea of the plant-sharing station gave her a smile and embodied the energy of local plant groups, which have seen exponential growth during the pandemic and after the Almeda fire in 2020.

With or without a designated station, Lemon said plant collectors are a generous bunch. Local plant group members share with newcomers, collected replacement plants for fire victims and share vegetable starts and houseplants with young families.

“Plant people are really amazing. I love how everybody bands together, not only after the fires a couple years ago but during the pandemic. Plants are a really incredible way to bring people together. It’s awesome to see stuff like this, and there are a lot of people doing plants with their kids now, too,” Lemon said.

“’Leave a plant, take a plant’ is a fantastic idea and it’s a fun way to meet other people who are into plants or to be able to help newcomers who want to get into plants. It’s just something that totally sparks joy, so who wouldn’t love sharing that with others?”

Whittington said she’s excited to see what warmer weather brings to her little plant swapping stand.

Whittington and Lemon agreed that the sense of community would be equally as wonderful as the excitement of gifting — and maybe even getting — a few new plants. Whittington's personal favorites (hint, hint) are syngoniums.

An added bonus, Whittington said the stand would help accidental plant “hoarders” purge their collection size — to make room for more plants, of course.

“I had been relatively into plants for the last several years, but I really started getting into them over the last two years, and it’s easy to get carried away,” she said with a laugh.

“I’m always taking cuttings and making more plants. Now I’ll have somewhere to put the extras. It’s fun to share, and I’m hoping I’ll get a few that I don’t already have.”

She added, “When I left the house this morning, somebody had put in some bean starts and a morning glory. When I came back, the beans were gone and now there’s another pothos. I’m excited to see what shows up.”

How to take part

Christina Whittington’s “Take a Plant, Leaf a Plant” station is available during daylight hours. Plant swappers are encouraged to take whatever they’d like but leave some behind for others. The station is located in Phoenix near Fifth and B streets.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com