Frequently Asked Questions


I found a plant, a seed packet or some bulbs on the sidewalk and followed a link to this web site. What is it exactly?

First of all, we hope that you will be pleased by the plant given by a PlantCatching member, someone who wants to share his passion with other gardeners in his area. This web site will allow you to find even more free plants nearby, given by other members, for your garden or vegetable garden. You will also be able to donate your own perennial divisions, your bulbs and seeds. This is a lot of savings for everyone and less organic materials in the bin. You will also create new relationships with gardeners like you and this is a great way to propagate the biodiversity.

Is it free?

Yes. PlantCatching is a citizen platform that I want absolutely free. The goal here is to contribute towards a huge communal resource of plants and seeds, as well as create new links between gardeners. However, developing and managing such a project is not without important costs in money and time. That's why I have created the Bamboo accounts, for professionals who want to take part in this great project and get visibility on one hand, and for citizens who would like to support this initiative on the other hand. Without you all, unfortunately PlantCatching will cease its operations sooner than later...

Do I have to create an account?

No, whether you are looking for plants or donating yours. The goal is to keep the site as straightforward as possible for the occasional user. However, I encourage you to become an active PlantCatching member and get the corresponding benefits. For example, the homepage is enhanced with tools that help you to discover the local offers, requests and events. Also all of your donations will be accessible from a single personal page so that you won’t receive an email per donation with the corresponding passwords.

I already use other ways to exchange plants and seeds. Why would PlantCatching be better and innovative?

PlantCatching is not about encouraging you to leave the services or forums you are already using. It doesn’t want to impose itself as the best and only method. This is great if you already exchange between neighbours, if you meet other gardeners inside a community or send seed packets by mail. Don’t stop! This service is just about adding a new string to your gardener’s bow, another way to save money, transmit the biodiversity and to fill your garden or vegetable garden with novelties. However, it seems that PlantCatching is the only web service acting on the proximity side and operating with more or less anonymous donations. That’s why you will certainly like this new tool.

Why is this web site not usable on a mobile?

It's a lot of work to ensure that a site is compatible with phones and tablets. This is not only a matter of resizing pages... All the user experience has to be carefully taken into consideration. It's already difficult for me to invest so much time and money so that PlantCatching can last long. If this mobile feature has some importance to you, I invite you to support this project by acquiring a Bamboo account. This will allow future developments.

Supporting PlantCatching

I'm a user. How can I support this citizen initiative?

Since 2015, you can either donate an amount of money, or purchase a Bamboo Shoot account. This is cheap and, if you are many to do it, it will give me resources to maintain and ensure a bright future for PlantCatching with new developments. With a Bamboo Shoot account, you also get many benefits, the two main ones being the email alerts as soon as someone shares a plant in your area and the search by keywords.

I'm a professional in horticulture or urban agriculture. How can I support this citizen initiative?

Very simply by purchasing a Bamboo or Giant Bamboo account. You will gain an increased visibility with the visitors of this platform thanks to a permanent presence on the site, your events and your Bamboo Notes.

Donating plants

Can I give anything?

No. You must give either gardening materials (like soil, compost, rocks, containers, ...), fruits and vegetables from your own crops, or healthy living items able to be planted (perennials, bulbs, seeds and even annuals). However you could propose a plant that seems stunted but that will grow better in the conditions of another garden. In this case, just mention it. In all cases, suffice to say that one must respect those who will take your plants. Please, no offers with known problems like insects or diseases. And obviously, any illegal plants (to possess or transmit, as defined in your country) is forbidden on PlantCatching. Donors assume all responsibility in breaking this rule and all others defined in the terms of use.

What’s the quickest way to give a plant?

The public donation. Fill the short form, put the address and choose public for the donation mode. Print the label, hook it on the plant and place it in the wild, without bothering anyone if it’s outside your property. That way, any passerby will be able to catch it. Ensure to take care of it in the meantime if needed.

I’m not very comfortable to put a plant on the sidewalk or in a public place... Is it legal?

Of course, common sense must be used before placing an object outside your property because you are totally responsible for it. Maybe it would be badly perceived in your country or even forbidden. For a public donation, the best is always to put it on your property border so that a passerby can catch it. If you have a fence, maybe it has a ledge on which you can place the container? Within cities, it could be in front of your gate or driveway? If none of those are possible, you may prefer to use the private donation mode.

What exactly are the private and semi-private release modes?

These modes indicate that you will place your donation on your property. In general this is because the public mode is not applicable to your situation or simply because you prefer not to offer the plant to a non PlantCatching member (in other terms, to a passerby). Two cases are possible. You can place it outside (semi-private mode), on your property, by mentioning in the form comments that the person can walk on your property to grab the plant at an agreed location (behind the bin, under the deck, and so on). This can be tricky sometimes because it may not be applicable to your culture, country or house. That’s why you can also keep it privately. In this case, the person will have to contact you to get it.

Why is the public release mode very important?

It is important, when applicable, to use this form of donation from time to time. It is recommended to do it every time because the PlantCatching service is very young. To put a plant out freely accessible to all will allow people to explore this site and to become members themselves. This is why we encourage the original label printed from the site be used to maintain the link to this website. And after all, that's what defines the originality of PlantCatching. Do you know of another service that is an alternative to the usual "exchange of seeds by mail" or traditional classifieds?

What is this label that I have to attach to the plant I give?

If you give a plant in public or semi-private mode, you should print and attach a small label to the plant or to the bag of bulbs or seeds. A passerby, falling face to face with a plant given by a member of PlantCatching, will see this label. It has two purposes. On the one hand it provides information on the plant (name and light conditions, the latter being important for those who do not know the plant and must make a choice based on difficult conditions in the garden for example). In addition it includes a link to the specific web page related to the donation. The passerby with a smart phone can straightaway visit this page and see your comments. The others, if they take the plant, will read them at home. They will even be able to leave a thanks message. In all cases, this link is simply a way to help discover PlantCatching and attract new members in your area to increase offers.

Can I use a different label?

Yes it is permitted. However, it is advised to use the one printed from PlantCatching because it contains important information to convert a "plant catcher" into a new member. If you ever use your own label, we ask you to include the following information (the link to the page of the plant on the website, the name of the plant, light conditions ...). You could also add a big sign labelled "For free" in order to attract the eye.

What happens if I release a plant publicly and it rains?

It is best to place the label in a transparent plastic bag. I personally use a ziploc bag, punch a hole above the slider and I add a thread. If your label has been damaged, you can always reprint it by visiting the web page that was created for your plant.

I added a plant on PlantCatching but I can’t see it in the result list if I do a search in my area...

The record for your plant will appear 15 minutes after its creation. This leaves you time to go out and place your plant or prepare it.

Looking for plants

When I’m searching plants in my area there is no result...

There is a chance that you may be the first to use PlantCatching in your neighborhood because the service is very new. But guess what... you're going to change that. I would encourage you to spread the word about PlantCatching, by talking to your friends, colleagues and family, or by placing flyers at your favorite neighborhood spots. But more importantly, why not start by giving one or more plants in public mode? This is all explained on this page.

Now that I have some search results, what shall I do?

It depends on the donation mode. In public mode, simply go and grab the plant at the mentioned address. In semi-private mode, this is almost the same but passerbys are not invited. Read the comments to know where to get the donation. In private mode, contact the gardener by email or phone, like with classifieds. Finally, if you didn't meet the donor in person, go to the address indicated on the label attached to the donation and leave a thanks message.

I just went to grab a plant but there was nothing at the location provided by PlantCatching...

It is likely that another gardener picked up the plant before you. This is part of the system. To avoid this, it is best to visit the web site frequently and to specify a search near your location. Be aware that both the catcher and the donor can update the record of the plant with a "taken" flag in order to prevent you from travelling to the plant and being disappointed. This simple action will be one of the marks of respect and good conduct of members of PlantCatching to each other. We also encourage you to talk about PlantCatching around you, friends, office colleagues, neighbors ... and to promote it with small posters or flyers in your neighborhood to increase offers so that it is easier to find a plant to catch. Finally, please remember that it is as important to give as to receive.

What should I pay attention to when I’m out to grab a plant?

The “normal” use of PlantCatching is to look for plants in your neighborhood (home, work ...). But if you are in a place you do not know, simple measures of prudence and common sense are needed. Do not go to unsafe places!

Specific requests

I can see red markers on the map, corresponding to requests. But where can I list my own requests?

This feature requires an account. Once you have created it, click on the link "My account" in the menu and a sub-menu will appear with an entry My local requests.

Someone in my neighborhood would like a plant and I have it. How can I contact this gardener?

Check under the request, the other person might have added a way of contact. Or it may be in her profile if she has one. Otherwise, you just have to offer your plant in the usual way on PlantCatching. If he is lucky, the requesting gardener will see and grab it. Otherwise, you will please someone else.