Meet Prōpa, a social network to find and share houseplants

Founded by Annapolis-based Pat May, the app is launching this week with a platform to find cuttings of sought-after plants, and share them as they grow.

The view of the Prōpa app.

(Courtesy image)

When Pat May was searching for a particular kind of houseplant to complement the Scandinavian interior of his house in Annapolis, he had to dig deep into the web.

On blogs, forums like Reddit and on social networks, he found folks exchanging information, and in some cases buying and selling cuttings from each other. It helped because the plant he was searching for, called Pilea peperomioides, was in limited supply in the US.

But as he looked, he was also struck by the number of people gathering in these forums, and how passionate they were. People were willing to invest time into their searches, and ultimately spend money on clippings. Altogether, it had the makings of a community. But it was dispersed. There wasn’t a central place to easily find and exchange plants.

He thought, “What better way than to crowdsource this and if people have cuttings they can ship it to each other? That way people can get access to these rare and interesting plants a lot more easily than having to wait several years for stores to stock them.”

This revelation planted the seeds for Prōpaa plant-focused social network May founded in 2020, and launched this week with apps on the App Store and Google Play.

It’s aiming to make it easy to find a particular plant and share a cutting, as well as share and view growth progress and tips with folks in the community.

“We are a social network for people who love plants to share their plants and their growth cycles to get more reward from owning plants and to have better interpersonal relationships with other people who like plants,” May said. “Houseplants as a hobby is pretty solitary and so finding ways to make this more social and more rewarding is what we’re really interested in. Sharing plant cuttings is one of the ways we achieve that. When you give a plant to somebody that’s creating a bond between you.”

It works on a couple levels.

For one, Prōpa allows users to share their own houseplant collection. They can post photos of their plants, and see how others have grown. Through a feature called a node, the app allows users to post an update photo to a particular plant, rather than having to create a new post each time. This way, users can share photos throughout their plant’s growth, and it gets added to a time lapse that shows how it’s grown. This accounts for plants growing at different rates, which makes it distinct from a platform like Instagram, May said.

When it comes to the search for plants, the app includes a map with nearby cuttings. Users can also make a wishlist where to post what they’re interested in. Then, users get a notification when another user has a plant available to share.

With each share, users receive a “prop,” which is the app’s version of a like. Users can also track the lineage of a plant they share from cutting to full bloom. There are no transactions happening in the app, but folks can communicate like other social networks, such as via chat groups.

With the launch, the aim going forward will be to attract users. With a free app, May is making plans for the business model within it. He sees Prōpa becoming a home for product recommendations for the plant enthusiasts in the community.

“We think that we can develop a reputation for having a curation of very high quality products that are exactly what you need for those plants, and being able to match those products up to the plants you have,” May said.

May says he’s passionate about product development. Through the launch of the app, which was built using technologies including React Native, Golang and MongoDB, he hopes to make the search for out-of-stock Pilea peperomioides easier for others.

“I love bringing people together,” he said. “It’s really incredible to see that connection you can make by sharing a plant cutting and having your photo next to it.”

Subscribe to our Newsletters
Technically Media
Connect with companies from the community
New call-to-action