There are two things in this life that make me really happy: Spending time with people I care about and plants. (Also food, but that’s the topic for another piece.) And while my plant obsession is a usually a solo activity — minus the times I force my boyfriend to look at a new leaf springing up or a flower I didn’t notice before — I’ve come to realize that plant-related activities can be a great way to spend time with established friends and cement new friendships.
I don’t think anyone questions the fact that people are spending more time indoors, away from the natural world and isolated from other humans, than ever in human history. We’re all freaking out in our houses and offices with our various devices and, I don’t think coincidentally, we’re also in the midst of a major houseplant craze.
Studies have shown that plants significantly boost mood, attention, creativity, and even productivity. A 2012 study from University of Munich researchers found, for example, that just the color green boosted the creativity of the responses of 69 study participants to a series of questions. Another study, from Japanese and Indonesian researchers in 2016, found that the more plants were in a room, the better the mood of the study subjects.
So, plants are awesome. But so are real human interactions with real human beings, which is another thing a lot of us are missing in our lives. Plant-related group activities are an excellent remedy for both the lack of nature and the lack of human connection in many of our lives. Sharing your love of living green things can bring you closer to friends you’ve lost touch with or help you establish new friendships, so here are seven plant-related activities you can do with friends.
Plant Store Shopping Spree
While I love going to the plant store on my own, it can also be really fun to go with friends. A plant store shopping spree is a great opportunity to find new little ones (or big ones!) to add to your collection. And when you bring friends along, they can draw your attention to plants that you might not have automatically noticed before. It’s a great way to hang out and increase your plant exposure.
But you don’t have to buy plants to get new ones. Most houseplants can be pretty easily propagated — which is a fancy way of saying making a new, little plant from a bigger plant — either by placing a cutting in water to grow roots or even just putting the cutting on soil, in some cases.
Having a cuttings exchange is awesome way to expand your plant collection without spending a dime. Plus, it’s a great excuse to get a group of people together! Set a date at least a month ahead so that people who are doing water propagation have time to grow some roots, buy a couple of bottles of wine and non-alcoholic bevs and get trading! Bonus points if you or your guests bring soil and/or pots.
Plant Care Educational Brunch
Do you have that one friend who knows a lot about plants? Who always posts pictures of them on Instagram? Who can spot off the name of that obscure houseplant you picked up at the hardware store without thinking twice? Ask them if they’re down to share their knowledge!
Arrange a brunch where either your know-it-all-about-plants friend talks about something specific, like light needs or how to properly water, or where each guest brings a plant care tip to share with the group. Double down on the theme with a meal that includes edible flowers and plenty of fresh-cut bouquets.
Plant Block Printing Party
Plants aren’t just great to own in your house — they’re also super cute on fabric! Have a plant block printing party where people bring their own fabric while you provide the tools to create a block print. Provide or have everyone bring images of their favorite plants and then make awesome designs together! You can use your block printed fabric for anything from throw pillows to totes to simple tees to dresses, depending on each person’s level of sewing skill. Or, if your friends just aren’t that into sewing, tell them to hang it on their wall as-is.
Look, I know that a beginning potter can’t make a perfect plant pot. My mom is a ceramicist, so I know how much skill and time goes into that kind of work! But a group ceramics class with a focus on making at least a little pinch pot for your succulents, for example, can be a fun way to spend time with each other, get excited about plants, and create a cute little pot all on your own.
Cloth Pot Cover Crafting Party
Have you seen those adorable cloth covers for pots that have been popping up on Instagram lately? They’re an awesome way to display your plants, often at a lower cost than if you bought a ceramic pot. If you’re handy with a sewing machine — or have a friend who is — get a group together to make these super simple pot covers. Add in a meal and/or some drinks and you have a regular afternoon party!
Look, I’m not saying that plants and friends+plants activities are going to be the cure-all for your modern malaise. But both plants and spending time with friends and plants have greatly boosted my life in the past year or so. Why not give it a shot?