For my generation, staying in touch is mostly digital: sending DMs to college buddies on Instagram, lurking on high school classmates’ Facebook profiles or receiving the occasional email from that friend in the Peace Corps goodness-knows-where. Over the course of my young adult life, though, I have accumulated a few pen pals. I treasure all of these screen-free correspondences, whether they are postcards from old travel companions abroad or lined paper notes from my octogenarian hiking buddy in the California desert. But my favorite letters come on plantable paper, peppered with seeds from places I’ve been or want to go.
As the name suggests, plantable paper is embedded with seeds. The paper can be buried in soil and watered (a little more than you would a seed alone — it needs to work through its papery medium) until it sprouts. You can plant the paper for up to two years after the card is made.
About a year ago, a pen pal of mine from San Francisco sent me a plantable paper card decorated with pressed flowers and embedded with violet seeds. I keep it in a box of all my letters and re-read it from time to time. I have a pot ready to plant it on my windowsill when I start feeling nostalgic for my days on the West Coast.
Because plantable paper is usually made from post-consumer, upcycled materials (cutting down new trees to just to embed it with seeds would sort of defeat the purpose, I suppose), the stationary has a rustic, earthy look that I, unsurprisingly, cannot resist.
When I learned that you can make your own plantable paper, I wanted to try it. Using a packet of seeds and my own discarded papers, my stationary could tell as much of a story as what’s written inside.
Learning to try
Before I committed to making cards, I wanted to test my plantable papermaking abilities. I found a DIY from The Spruce Crafts for plantable gift tags. The slightly-smaller tags seemed simpler, and the instructions were less complex than others I found. Also, I bought a cute set of animal cookie cutters at the thrift store that seemed perfect for the task.