I will admit to being highly skeptical of plantable seed paper. As a green blogger, I had collected a small box full of the paper from sources such as a Silk soy milk desk calendar made from the stuff, to a thank you card, to a bookmark, and more. I couldn't recycle them because I felt guilty about the plants that could be hiding in the seeds (who knew that there even were?), and also because I wondered if they would mess with the paper recycling stream - so I kept them for a couple years. Eventually I took the box outside at the end of one summer, to my then-floundering sun-soaked front yard. I tore up the paper, buried it under a few layers of soil, watered it, and called it a day. So what did the results yield, if anything? Hit jump to find out what happened.
A memorial plant Card by Botanical Paperworks
I didn’t think about my experiment through the fall and winter, and by springtime, I had forgotten I’d even planted the seed embedded paper. But then an amazing thing happened, there were unfamiliar plants growing that didn’t look like weeds!
I grew up in the woods of the Hudson Valley (not a lot of wildflowers there), but my grandmother had once sown a huge field with wildflowers during a volunteer day at Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center. I had worked there years later, mowing near those same flowers, and recognized them as similar to the young shoots headed for the sun in my yard. At least I thought I recognized them.
One of my paper seed blooms
I gave them the benefit of the doubt, not expecting that I would actually get flowers out of my saved-for-years packages from various sources. Thinking that maybe they would shoot up and flop over, never flower, or last a season and disappear, I watched and waited.
Now, I have no idea which packages ‘worked’ and which didn’t, and I think that some of them must have contained seeds that were too old to sprout, but despite these shortcomings, I’m happy to report that some of them did! Now three years later they’re still going strong in the bright sun – even despite my crummy soil. But I guess that’s the power of wildflowers – they’re hearty – from seeds to plants to flowers that, they keep going and going.
Image via Pulp Art on Etsy
So now I’m a convert, and yes, I’m still saving those seed-embedded papers, and thinking that early next spring I’m going to go for another round. (spring or autumn is the best time to plant wildflower seeds, not in the heat of summer when they’re more likely to desiccate.)
I was also happy to learn that there are several companies out there that make wedding invitations and favors, memorial cards (what a nice rememberence!) boxes, and stationery from plantable paper. Botanical Paperworks makes some pretty sweet pieces, and their style is more modern than hippie, but still has a lovely natural feel.
Woodcut Cards on plantable paper via Greenfield Press
The Greenfield Paper Company makes greeting cards, hosting an array of flora, like their woodcut flower series, shown above. But they have lots of other styles too, including plain paper embedded with noninvasive wildflower seeds. Best of all, all the paper is handmade one sheet at a time in California from recycled materials (and water from their process is remediated).
Symphony Handmade Seed Papers make wine bags, gift bags, and a lovely placemat and placecard set that are embedded with shasta daisy seeds. Plantable Papers makes wrapping paper, and Pulp Art on Etsy offers a pdf tutorial on how to DIY. And if you want to get the flowers out, but aren’t so interested in the card or paper part, there are plenty of paper seed bombs available on Etsy too, which make great wedding favors, or work just a small thank you when you need one.
It’s a thoughtful way to go when you are giving paper, and the world can always use more flowers.
Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick and author of The Eco-Chick Guide to Life (St. Martin’s Press). A green living expert, she contributes to The Huffington Post and Mother Nature Network (MNN.com)
Lead Image via Pulp Art on Etsy