How to Communicate With Plants
75% of us talk to our cars and plants. Do you?

By Marion Owen, Fearless Weeder for PlanTea, Inc. and
Co-author of Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul


Tom Hanks' "Power of Four" solution

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ave you ever...

Wondered how a plant felt?

Been drawn to a certain plant in a garden center?

Just had to grow roses or apples, though you didn't know why?

Said "hello" to a tree by touching or hugging it?

Sent loving thoughts to a plant as you watered it?

. . . Then you've already experienced a kinship with plants. Humans have experienced these sorts of connections before there was a language to speak of them. Each of us has connected with plants when we stop to smell the roses or walk in the woods, if even for a half second; even if we aren't aware of it.

"Most plants will teach anyone who is interested. If you have the interest, follow up on it and see for yourself."
--Eliot Cowan, author of the book, "Plant Spirit Medicine"

Communicating with plants is a come-as-you-are exercise. You don't have to be anything other than who you are right now to begin. (I even list a few sample questions later on that you can use). There are no impossible rules or by-the-book techniques to follow. What's more, each one of us has the ability to communicate with other species. Yes, you can do this, and so can your best friend. It's not a special gift that's been designated to a select few.

If you invest the time in learning how to communicate with plants--whether it's an orchid, broccoli plant, rose bush, or giant redwood--you will, without a doubt, enhance your life with new insights, appreciation, and understanding. Communicating with plants is a two-way street that occurs on a level playing field. No one has the upper hand. It's just two individuals chatting back and forth. All you need is a genuine curiosity and a sense of adventure. The rewards are a greater ability to pay attention to life, a stronger kinship with the natural world, and a greater capacity to love.

The following steps are presented as a way for you to get your feet wet. They are also a good reference to refer back to. Once you become more comfortable with the idea of communicating with another species (these techniques, by the way, apply to all things), let your instinctive wisdom guide you. You might even find yourself developing your own method, which is great. Discover what works best for you. Relax, trust, and don't try too hard. Like developing any talent or skill, regular practice is the key. I suggest keeping a journal nearby to jot down notes.

"Welcome, friend...
I speak for all plants. We are pleased and honored that you wish to connect so deeply with us and share your energy and your friendship. Thank you so much for that gift. Please enjoy your visit. We are always happy to hear from you."
--georgiane, a parlor palm

To get started. The first thing you need to do is . . .

Ground and center yourself
Becoming grounded and centered helps you get situated. It's like going to the theatre. You find your seat and settle in for the evening's performance. So find a quiet space that's relatively free from distractions. (Turn off the phone!) Sit in a comfortable position on a chair or sofa, or cross-legged on the floor. Visualize yourself connected to the earth by imagining a line, beam of light, or cone of energy above you. See it flowing through your body and down through your feet into the earth, like plant roots extending outward. Get the feeling of being settled in, centered and balanced--left and right, forwards and backwards, up and down.

No, you don't have to empty your mind

"No one with a busy life can or should try to empty the mind, whatever that means," says Lorin Roche, PhD, author of "Meditation Made Easy." Our minds are in constant state of chatter, and trying to clear it is an unrealistic task. It would be like trying NOT to think of a pink elephant. The idea here is to encourage, and allow for, moments of inner quiet and peace. I'm not suggesting you try to stop thinking. You're establishing a two-way dialogue here, and thinking is an important part of this kind of communication.

As you sit quietly, you may notice all sorts of thoughts (work, errands, grocery lists--you name it) battling for your attention. This is normal. It's also normal to become irritated or try to ignore these seemingly unruly thoughts altogether as if they didn't exist. The best way to deal with them as they pop unnannouced into your conciousness, is to simply acknowlege their presence and let them move on, like frames in a movie. In time, the quiet moments will increase, allowing you to be more receptive to what the plant is sharing with you. Be patient with your efforts. Even if you're only able to experience a sense of peace and calm for just a few moments at first, it's a step in the right direction.

Breathe with awareness

The next step involves breathing with awarenes, which simply means paying attention to the flow of air in and out of your body as you breathe. Inhale and exhale gently and fully from your lower abdomen, not your upper chest, to allow for complete breaths. Pay attention as you breathe in and breathe out. Breathing with awareness also helps you focus on something besides your chatty, inner dialogue.

Let go of expectations and outcomes

Try not to carry a pre-conceived idea or plan of what might happen during your conversation. Life doesn't unfold that way anyway, so holding on to an agenda will only leave you disappointed. Simply allow things to occur and accept them without judgment. This comes with practice and increased trust. Stay in the present moment and don't be concerned about things you've heard or read about. Something always happens during one-on-one communications, though it might occur on a level or in such a way that you don't recognize it. At least, not yet.


Staying focussed means to maintain a strong and clear intention about what you're doing.

Go ahead and get the plant's attention
Now it's time to let the plant know you'd like to converse with it. This simple act is a little like knocking on a friend's door before coming in for a cup of coffee and a chat. In this case, you silently state his, her, or its name (or whatever feels right to call it) three times.

Introduct yourself and state your purpose

This is easy to do. Just introduce yourself as if you were meeting someone for the first time. Then state your purpose. Here's an example: "Hello fern. My name is Marion. I'd like to ask you a few questions." Now visualize your words moving toward the plant, across the space between you and the plant. See your message gently lighting on its leaves or branches.

Start asking questions

At this point, you might be wondering, "What kind of questions should I ask?" Here are some examples to get the juices flowing:
  • How are you?
  • Please tell me about yourself.
  • What do you need to be healthier?
  • Am I watering you too much?
  • What kind of nourishment (fertilizer) do you prefer?
  • Is pruning good for you? If so, how should I do it?
  • What kind of music do you like?
  • What should I do to get rid of _______ (pests)?
  • What other things would you like to tell me?
Now, just send your questions, one at a time, over to the plant as I described above, and...

Relax into receiving the plant's message
The responses you receive may come in a variety of forms, such as visual images, auditory messages in the form of words, whole sentences, or sounds, feelings or sensations in your body, smells, tastes, and sudden "knowings," which I call ah--HAH's!

One of my first experiences with sending and receiving messages occurred during an introductory "Communicating with Plants" workshop. In the beginning we practiced sending and receiving messages to each other. Here's what happened to me: One of participants (the sender) was asked to think of three yellow objects and write them down.

After concentrating a few moments, he mentally "sent" the images to me. I relaxed into a receiving mode as I'd just been taught, and after a few moments I saw in my mind's eye a yellow daffodil, a yellow ribbon waving like a banner, and the sun. The sender and I compared notes and to my surprise (and delight!) I "got" exactly what he'd sent. It was the beginning of a wonderful journey . . .

"I walked up to one tree and put my hands against its bark, congratulating it on its courage, trying to draw on its strength. The tree was warm under my hands. I swear I felt it communicating back to me, with its own brand of comfort and compassion... It had things to teach me. I had come to believe that without any sense of false modesty."
--Martha Beck, author, "Expecting Adam, A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic" (ISBN 0-8129-2980-2)

Carry on a conversation
From this point, continue sending questions and listening for the answers. Go back and forth, as if you were talking with another person. And don't be surprised if you're asked a question! With practice, your dialogues will flow naturally and effortlessly.

When you're finished talking...

When you're done asking questions or when you feel like the conversation has reached an end, be sure to give thanks. Being grateful is an important part of acknowledging all special events in your life. You don't need to be formal or stiff. A simple and loving "thank you" is all you need to show your appreciation.

May your journey of learning, growth, and love.

[Special note from Marion: If you're not quite sure if you want to go through these steps, then here's a simple way to become more aware of nature around you. When you go for a walk, for example, acknowledge trees and flowers simply by saying "Hello." It sounds so simple, but it is very effective.]

Additional reading and resources

"Growing Myself--A Spiritual Journey Through Gardening," by Judith Handelsman.
How gardening can clean the layers of soot and grime off your intuition, can help you listen better to that intuition and act on it. Consider Handelsman the facilitator of a seminar that will force you to slow down, grow up, fine-tune and take responsibility.--The Los Angeles Times

"The Secret Life of Plants," by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, authors of "Secrets of the Soil.

The Assisi International Animal Institute.
Assisi International Animal Institute is a non-profit, nondenominational organization dedicated to the promotion of the well-being of nonhuman animals. We do so through our educational programs, through consciousness raising and through rehabilitation. Their work emphasizes how communcations with nonhuman animals can promote healthy, stronger relationships, and wonderful learning opportunities. Their newsletters contain beautiful and inspirational stories resulting from human-to-animal communications. For more info, to join, or if you need to communicate with YOUR animal (pet): PO Box 10166, Oakland, CA 94610-0166; Phone: 510-569-6123; Fax: 510-635-2351.

We wish to promote compassion and reverence for all life."To Hear the Angels Sing" by Dorothy Maclean, co-founder of Findhorn. Lorian Press, 1984.

"Talking with Nature" by Michael J. Roads. Published by H J Kramer, Inc., Tiburon, CA. ISBN 0-915811-06-5.

"Behaving As If the God In All Life Mattered," by Machaelle Small Wright. Published by Perelandra. ISBN 0-9617713-0-5.

Thanks for visiting and please stop by again. I'll put the coffee on!

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