Quarantine gardens went a long way toward keeping people sane during lockdown both in the Czech Republic and elsewhere. And it should come as no surprise; research tell us that plants can have a huge impact on our well being.
Fortunately, for those who want to continue enjoying the calming affects of plants in the post-quarantine world, there are a number Prague groups devoted to plant swapping, a highly convenient and affordable way to acquire new plants — and plant-loving friends.
We recently spoke to the Czech duo behind Haenke, an e-shop and concept store in Žižkov offering regular phytotherapy workshops, about the wheres, whys, and whens, of plant-swapping in Prague.
Alexandra Střelcová creative director of Haenke (the company is named for for Czech botanist Thaddaus Haenke) told us that plant swapping is among the most enjoyable and affordable ways to grow your private jungle.
“You never know what may grow out of a small plant cutting you’d swapped months ago at a local event,” she says. “Also, why not share the results of your gardening skills with other like-minded plant lovers?”
She goes on to say thatin her experience, favorite house plants in the Czech Republic tend to be monsteras, ficus, and pileas. “An increasing number of people find pleasure in growing plants from seed: avocadoes are a particularly popular and fun challenge.”
The Czechs, she says, have historically been collectors of cacti. One Czech botanist, Alberto Vojtěch Frič, was widely known as “The Cactus Hunter” for his deep interest in the plants.
Given that so many residents of Prague have limited space available, Střelcová shared some tips for which plants are best for cultivating on balconies and in small spaces.
“Herbs, edible plants like avocado, citrus, mango, basically anything you eat and then use the pit or seed. You can also grow veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, or lettuce. Fruits and veggies can be grown outside on balconies. Herbs are usually grown on window sills and in kitchens. No matter how small your space is, plants can make a real difference in your overall wellbeing and mental health.”
She says that research suggests we spend more than 90% of our day time indoors so it’s quite important we spend it in an environment that sparks joy. “Plants can be a decisive factor in this: a piece of nature right in your small room. In summer, you can place your plants outdoors – they just love natural light and a bit of rain every now and then. Why not have your own tomatoes and basil right there?”
According to Střelcová, swapping also helps the environment. Many house plants are sold in single-use plastic pots, rather than an environmentally-friendly container. Distribution is also a problem for the environment, “as the majority of plants are traded at Dutch auctions and then sent in trucks over Europe.”
Local plant swapping cuts down dramatically on emissions from these trucks.
Having plants at home is beneficial in many ways. Taking care of the plants is therapeutic, reducing depression and stress. Flowers brighten up the home, many emit a pleasing fragrance, and they are mood-lifters. Plants help to purify the air. And, of course, if you are growing plants for food, you will save money on groceries.
To learn more about Haenke, visit their website.
Upcoming plant swaps:
- May 29-31 Prague Botanical garden – Geranium exchange
- May 30 – Plant swap at Neobaleno, hosted by Community Garden Prague 13
- May 30 – Amazing Move Fitness Center
- June 7 – Plant Swap at Amaze in Tchaiovna
- June 13 – Plant picnic on Nusle Stairs
- June 18 – Plant exchange at Zahrada na niti (a hanging plants shop that hosts regular events)
Plant swap groups and plant-friendly businesses:
- Green Swap is a public Facebook group devoted to swapping plants
- Pureplants is a company offering interior plant design in Prague
- Macrame Princess is a small Prague business leading macrame workshops
Where do you buy and/or swap plants in Prague?