How to Adopt a Wayward Plant

Chelsea Flower Show
Chelsea Flower Show Credit: Eddie Mulholland/© Eddie Mulholland

This generation are potty for plants and the planet will thank them for it

How does one adopt a plant? It’s a novel idea, but surely one that would fit in well with a new generation of green-fingered environmentalists. Keep reading to learn more about plant recycling and how it’s flourished over the last few years into a sensational summer event.  

An innovative plant adoption scheme is coming to London this summer, giving the public the opportunity to pick up their favourite flowers for free! Forward-thinking organisation, Wayward, will allow thousands of flowers and ferns from huge events like the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and Chelsea Flower Show to be rehomed. People don’t generally consider what happens to flowers once shows like this come to an end, but thanks to Wayward, the National Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society, these plants are being given a lasting legacy.

The idea for Wayward was conceived when founder, Heather Ring, was walking down a New York city street and witnessed a plant pot flying out of a window; this got her thinking about all the plants that come from broken homes. That seed was sown back in 2006, and Wayward’s Thomas Kendall talks about how they’ve since been fostering ‘lonely houseplants from families that were moving away or couples breaking up and dividing their possessions’.

Tom goes on to describe their rather unusual adoption process: ‘We actually exchange plants for stories through the adoption forms!’ This involves encouraging people to prove they’ll be good parents by perhaps providing a description or picture of the plant’s new home. He hails it as an ‘amazing opportunity to bring people together through the exchange of stories and plants'. So, it seems that these plants are in safe hands.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Credit: Tim Whitby/Getty Images

But apart from this game-changing plant adoption project, what else is out there? We asked Tom if social media has had an impact on the plant-loving community. He acknowledged that ‘plants are very photogenic of course, so they've become popular with the Instagram generation’. Indeed, it appears that the #plantswap trend has been building momentum over the past couple of years. A new generation of insta-savvy plant lovers is quickly building a community where sympathetic sponsors with eco-friendly business models are anxious to join the cause. Online activists and influencers like Summer Rayne Oakes, who started the hashtag #plantfriendsirl, have been organising hip, happening plant exchanges. This is where fellow plant enthusiasts can trade perennials and other pot plants, often in aid of a charitable cause. People have even taken to organising their own plant swap parties, where they casually trade orchids and peace lilies over music, drinks and nibbles.

Nevertheless, it seems that people of all ages and walks of life are keen to take part in Wayward’s community project, which aims to bring budding gardeners and those who want to do their part for the planet together. Moreover, another factor that sets Wayward apart from any plant swapping practice (other than the fact that it’s free) is that they accept perennials in pretty much any condition. While he warns about wasting fuel on delivering annuals (their short life-span means that they often make better compost) Tom tells us how those up for the challenge ‘love to adopt the most wayward and scraggly plants and nurse them back to life’.

So, perhaps plant adoption is the future. As a guilt-free way of getting rid of your plants and a lovely way of acquiring new ones, it seems to be beneficial for everyone. Tom tells us how the next big step will be their move to the National Trust’s Morden Hall Park, which will act as ‘a dedicated space to take in plants that need homes year-round’. Wayward is definitely on to something. On a wider scale, this project would make plant ownership easy and accessible for everyone and would have a positive effect on the environment - a whole new take on flower power.

How do I join in?

Keep up with all the latest events and adoptions at www.wayward.co.uk

If your school or community group are looking to adopt, you can sign up here

Volunteer to collect plants and see some of Britain’s best flower shows behind the scenes (more information here)

View latest offers from National Trust