Create Greeting Cards – You Can Plant!

from Wildlife Promise

Guest post by Elizabeth Scholl

Instead of shelling out another $4 for a greeting card, give a card made from homemade seed paper. Making the paper is fun, planting the seeds is good for the earth, and eventually the recipient gets another gift: flowers! 

downloadWhat You Need:

  • Scissors
  • A large bowl, container, or bucket for soaking paper scraps
  • A paper mold (This can be made from an old 8×10 or 5×7 wooden picture frame, with the glass and back removed. You can also use an embroidery hoop.)
  • Large plastic baking dish or other container big enough to hold your mold, with some room for it to slide around
  • A piece of mesh or screen big enough to stretch and fasten over your frame or hoop
  • Native flower seeds (Hint: Flat seeds will stay embedded in the paper more easily than large, round ones. See below for seed suggestions for your region.)
  • A staple gun or duct tape (If you are using an embroidery hoop for your paper mold, you won’t need these.)
  • A blender
  • 2-3 old bath towels
  • Paper towels or rags

What You Do:

1. Cut or tear your paper into 1-inch pieces. Soak the pieces in water for several hours or overnight, until the paper becomes very mushy.

2. While your paper is soaking, make your paper mold:

  • If using a picture frame: Cut your mesh or screening slightly larger than the frame, and staple or duct-tape the screen to the frame.
  • If using an embroidery hoop: Once the mesh or screening is secured between the two hoops, cut it so there’s about an inch outside the hoop all the way around.

3. If there are any sharp edges sticking out from the edge of your mold, trim them with scissors.

seedpapercard_elizabeth_scholl_226x2074. Fill a blender about 1/3 full with wet paper scraps. Add water until the blender is about 2/3 full. Blend until no paper scraps are visible and the mixture is the consistency of watery oatmeal. Papermakers call this substance a slurry.

5. Lay some old towels out on your workspace. These will be used to blot the extra moisture out of the paper and to catch any water that spills when you pour the slurry.

6. Place the dish pan on top of the towel. Pour your slurry into the dish pan.

7. Add your flower seeds to the slurry, mixing with a spoon or your hand.

8. Dip your mold into the basin, swishing it around until the screen is covered with a fairly even layer of slurry.

9. Pick up your paper mold and hold it above the basin, allowing the excess slurry to drain back into the basin. When it has stopped dripping, put the mold down on the towel. Fold a rag or several paper towels to about the size of your mold. Place on top of the mold and gently blot the excess moisture from the screen.

10. Keeping the rag or paper towels on top of the mold, flip the mold over and start to gently peel your handmade paper off the screen, allowing it to lie on the rag or paper toweling. If it falls apart, it means there is too much moisture. Flip it back over onto the towel, and let it sit for a few minutes, blotting more moisture out.

11. Once you have gotten the piece of paper off the screen, leave it on the rag or paper towel until it has dried.

12. You can fold, trim, and decorate your card in any way you wish. Write on the card what kind of seeds you used, so the recipient will know what type of flowers he or she will be growing. Also include these instructions: To plant the paper, tear into pieces that have seeds in them and plant in the ground or in pots. The paper will decompose, and the seeds will grow.

Note: This activity was tested by Be Out There Founding Mother Holly Ambrose, founder of the Tropic of Mom blog.

* Native Plant Seeds for Seed Paper

These seeds are all small enough to use for seed paper, and are native to various regions in the U.S. Most are perennials and will generally flower  the first year they are planted; a few are self-seeding annuals.

Northeast

  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Blanket Flower
  • Coreopsis
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Heliopsis
  • Gaillardia

Southeast

  • Coreopsis
  • Rose Mallow
  • Gaura
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Heliopsis

West and Southwest

  • Salvia
  • California Poppy
  • Gaura
  • Blue Vervain
  • Beardtongue
  • Coreopsis

Great Plains and Midwest

  • California Poppy
  • Gaura
  • Beardtongue
  • Gaillardia
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Coreopsis

Northwest

  • Lupine (seed must be scarified by rubbing on sandpaper)
  • California Poppy
  • Gaillardia
  • Rocky Mountain Bee Plant
  • Anise Hyssop

Elizabeth Scholl is a New Jersey-based writer of children’s books and magazine articles, with a background in elementary education. Specializing in nature and environmental topics, her books includeOrganic Gardening for KidsGrasshopper, Praying Mantis and Animals Attack: Wolves. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth enjoys working in her garden, bicycling and and exploring nature in her neighborhood.