6 Things to Do with Unwanted Indoor Plants


You loved your plant once, and you had a beautiful thing, but now you’re moving away or don’t have the time to care for it. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of things to do with an unwanted plan that can be as simple or involved as you prefer. You’re a plant owner which means you love mama nature and what to be responsible to the planet in your means for plant-termination.

6 things to do with unwanted indoor plants will depend on how much you care for the plant and how eco-conscious you aim to be in your removal of unwanted indoor plants. The directions one can take will include donating them, creating compost, crafty pastimes, or simply disposing of the shrub.

Regardless of means, this guide will teach you the ethical way to dispose of your unlovable plant so you can feel at ease that they’ve gone to a better place. It may not be plant heaven, but we’ll give you some equally wonderful ideas! Some of these will be practical, and others will be solely for fun. Your plant, your rules, right?

6 Things to Do with Unwanted Indoor Plants

I’ve been in the same position as you. Not knowing what to do with my indoor plants because I had to move across the country and finally came to terms with the fact that Mr. Fern was not going to make the journey with me.

We all know that plants require sunlight, water, and grow in stable environments, none of which a bumpy car can provide. They can’t go without that stability for more than 10 days without being unable to properly retain their nutrients, so I had to let go.

In beginning my research, I thought, “What do you do with an unwanted plant,” or in my case, a wanted plant that you can’t keep. Google is full of limited answers and unthoughtful suggestions that don’t lead one far. It appears the main ideas were composting for your garden or throwing it out.

The first comments you’ll see regarding the topic are along the lines of, “It’s just a plant! Jeez, what kind of question is that!? Just throw it out or chuck it on the side of the road!”

This is certainly a viable option which we will cover, but my guess is that if you’re researching the subject matter, you’d rather do better by your living leafy friend. A plant that has served you well for years can be hard to let go of.

People get very attached to their plants and the lightness it brings to their home. Some reviewers had similar co-dependency issues to their plants and didn’t want to let go. Some even caring for the same plant for over 20+ years!

I’m doing good if I keep a plant alive through a season, but once that green thumb kicks in, there’s no stopping me and Mr.-Whatever-type-o-plant-I-have-now. 

This list is intended to be a thoughtful look at what to do which will be ethical for the planet and a move your moral little heart can sleep with at night. Which leads us to the beautiful list of whimsy! 

#1 Donate Your Plant

This is a great option because so many companies don’t have budgets for plant décor but would love to include some indoor plants to lighten the mood. Some places you could consider donating your beloved plant to include:

  • A local church that certainly doesn’t have a budget for plants
  • A community center or place it can be enjoyed by many
  • Your best friend’s house / someone you trust to care for it well 
  • A local business that may not have funding for nice plants
  • A family you pass by on the street/ a stranger as a kind gesture (I would love to get a surprise plant, who wouldn’t really?) 
  • Your local veterinary office (be sure it’s an indoor plant that is safe for cats, dogs, and other animals to be around. You don’t want them to chew on one and be poisoned). 

It feels good to give back with no gift in return. You could make someone’s day by swinging by with an unexpected plant. I know that would make my day! 

But if you’d rather see a little return for your time, energy, and gas to drop it off, then consider something more lucrative. You don’t have to donate your plant but instead could post it for sale.

#2 Post Your Plant for Sale

This goes hand in hand with donating your plant, but the perk here is that you actually may know the person, where it ends up, and make a bit of cash back on it. You can visit it at a community center or church, but you have no guarantee that they’ll care for your plant properly.

Because of this, you may want to consider donating/selling the plant to someone you know. Someone at least through a chain of connections online that seem reliable to you. You may feel better about it going to someone you adore rather than a stranger on the street. It seems the gratification could be potentially much larger, but it depends on your outlook.

If your plant is a specialty bonsai tree that cost you thousands, consider posting it up for sale instead of donating. You don’t have to post it for full price but let them know what you paid and how much of a discount you are offering to them. (For example: “Paid $250 for this beautiful plant and want it to go to a loving home! Discounting it for only $50, hit me up and tell your friends!)

This way you’re making a pretty penny and also know if it goes to someone trustworthy. You may not know them personally, but if your family/friends vouch for them, they’re probably a good egg. Either way, you get paid so don’t stress about a plant your leaving in the dust anyways (pun not intended). 

Some of the best places to post your plant up to either donate or for sale are:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Amazon
  • Etsy 
  • Craigslist (the tricky part here being you have to meet them for drop-off, or they’ll know where you live. This could be a deal breaker for some, but many look for local listings here).

You could also organize a plant swap, but that might be counter-productive if you’re looking to shake one tree and then get rooted with another. 

These are all great options for online sites where you could make a bit of your investment back. Also, they can be used to donate for free and at least know where it ends up.

#3 Compost it!

This is by far the most popular option posted about online and a great idea if you’re growing your own food! 

You’ve already got that green thumb, but perhaps you don’t have the space for this indoor beauty. Move it outside or to your compost to have even more return on your investment than clean air and lovely décor.

Composting is a wonderful project because you won’t be throwing away a source that could make nutrient-rich soil and therefore nutrient-rich food. To begin, you need to decide on a location as well as finding biodegradable scraps from your garden and yard.

If you’re doing it correctly, you will be able to feed yourself and grow a thriving garden. Making your soil more fertile is a bonus and also the added gratification of using items that would end up in the garbage. 

Here are the basics to beginning your life as a composting king or queen:

  1. Pick a spot. Usually, it’s best to keep it outdoors as it may smell. This way it gets more natural sunlight as well and doesn’t grow dependent on an indoor environment.
  2. Build or purchase the bin you plan to grow in. About 1 yard by 1 yard will do. You want it to be deep enough to grow in but small enough to not take up your whole yard. It’s also okay to simply find a spot on the earth, but the bin and container keep unwanted pests and critters out.
  3. Collect kitchen scraps that are biodegradable. Keep the mini-compost bin inside so you can collect in the kitchen for your compost bin. 

The best kitchen scraps to add to your compost pile are fruit and vegetable scraps. Not only are they packed with nutrients that you want in your garden and future food, but they also break down quickly and do not attract rodents/insects in the same way that animal products do. This is why many compost owners opt for a fruit and veggie compost garden over a meat and dairy based compost. 

  • Add scraps to your compost with quality soil and mix every other week to keep it fresh. You’ll want to keep it moist, and it may take a few months for your compost to be ready for growing in. 
  • Within a few months, you should have a layer at the bottom of your compost bin which is ready for use! Start planting, and you should have multiple batches of compost throughout the year!

Things you should never compost include:

  • Meat and its scraps
  • Oil or fat residuals
  • Any bones of any kind
  • Fish and fish bones
  • Animal or human waste/feces (except for manure of herbivorous creatures such as rabbits and horses)

Composting is a huge commitment, and it’s not for everyone. If this all sounds daunting to you and you would rather do something easy with your plant. Consider getting creative. 

Grab the sparkles and glitter while you pull up Pinterest and pour a glass of wine!

It’s time to get crafty!

#4 Become a Plant Artist

This is for you creative makers out there (you know who you are), that would rather produce and make then purchase and be fake. That rhyme was intentional but only because I know your crafty heart will appreciate it!

You can get so many ideas from Pinterest on what to do with your Mr. Plant. Some of the best ones I’m seeing include:

  • Start an Etsy Shop – this could be the side-hustle you’ve been looking for. You love plants and can weave a beautiful plant hanger. You’re good at weaving and sewing and live for a woven basket, rug, or any kind of décor! 

You can get creative with this one and do more than just plant holders. Besides designing terrariums or other well-known concepts, you could invent something no one’s seen before. Like plants on your hats or small roots in a locket. Use your noggin to get weird on this one. It could be the passion and side-cash you’ve been looking for.

  • Make a Mask – there are hilarious masks on Pinterest which a user created out of milk jugs and plants. The handle of the jug is the nose while the bottle has a hole cut out of the top where the plants come out of. This can decorate your garden and liven up your home. You might consider keeping the plant when you see how cute it looks as the hairdo for a Mrs. Milk Jug face you’ve painted on the bottle! The more leaves, the bigger the hairdo! 
  • A Plant Wall – this is a more simple idea, but it’s also something that businesses will pay for. You’ve been to that charming restaurant that has a whole wall of shrubbery that just brings your soul to life?! Well someone has to make those! Perhaps this could be you. 

If Mr. Plant is doomed to die anyway, you may as well make his death not in vain by rebirthing him as a beautiful plant wall. It can be as chic or minimalistic as you like. This could work as décor in your home, as a gift for a loved one, or to sell to a business. 

The plant wall is also genius because we’re in the age of murals and wall-tagging. If you create a beautiful plant wall that everyone poses next to during an event or party, your Ivy-wall creations could hit the market in a big way by people that have money to spend. 

#5 Move it Outside

You can also keep it simple. They always say we should abide by the rule of ‘kiss,’ which means, keep it simple stupid. If you’re tired of all the more ‘involved’ options, consider just planting it outside. 

This is where your plant always wanted to be all along! But it will depend on the type of plant as some won’t survive outside in the harsh elements.

This is a wonderful option which many people recommend when discussing what to do with unwanted plants. It’s a way to give them a shot at life outside the abode, and they just might fare even better than you expect.

I say – Free the plants! Try to plant it outside, and some will grow, some won’t. Worth a shot to give them a real and vibrant outdoor life which they never could have achieved on that shelf in your apartment.

If you have to move from this apartment, find a patch that could use some brightening up, dig a large hole, plant your beloved plant friend, water him, and say your goodbyes. Leave with a big thank you and a heart of gratitude for all that Mr. Plant has done for you. 

He has served you well, and now you’ve given him a shot at life in the wild jungle that is real life. He may not survive the environmental shift, but it’s better than just tossing it out with the garbage, right? Which leads us to – 

#6 Just Throw it Away

I saved this option for last, but that’s because I think it’s the worst! 

So many people opted for the solution to just toss it out which I personally find to be the most lazy, most tragic, and really just the most boring option. There are so many great lives for your plant left to lead. Don’t let it end here in the garbage bin behind the Wendy’s, next to the 711. Your plant deserves better, and you know it. 

I hope the above tips will help you to not do this, but if you must, do what you’ve got to do. I can’t stop you, but I hope you can consider donating it to a center where it can be loved and enjoyed by others. Leaving it on the side of the road is just a sad picture of what we’re doing to the planet, and if you’ve purchased a plant in the first place to love, I’m certain you agree.

Do better for you and for the planet! That’s all I can say about this one. 

Letting Go of Mr. Plant

Letting go can be hard, especially when you’ve made an emotional connection to a plant that you’ve nurtured for many years. Sometimes they just can’t make the journey with us, and that’s okay. If they’re in a better place (like Aunt Martha’s back yard) then at least you know it’s being taken care of.

You will find other plants and take care of them in your life. The green thumb is a gift you can’t shake so I hope you never will try. But now it’s time to say goodbye. (That one was an unintentional poem, so now you know what both look like). 

All that’s left to say is, “I love you Mr. Plant, but you’ve got to go! Hasta la vista sweet-leaves!”

Recent Content