Make your own seed paper
Discovery Place Science
April showers bring May flowers, and depending on the flowers, they may in turn bring pollinators. A pollinator is an organism that helps flowering plants reproduce by moving pollen from the anther of a flower to the stigma.
Pollination is an example of an ecosystem service, which is a benefit that our environment provides that makes life possible. Other examples of these services would be food, water and soil as well as our relationships with our environment.
Take a moment and picture a pollinator. Is it yellow and black? Or perhaps it has beautifully colored wings? Bees and butterflies are not the only organisms that help our flowering plants reproduce; bats, beetles, hummingbirds, wasps and moths are also responsible for keeping the month of May colorful.
While these diverse organisms provide a helpful service, they depend on the nectar or pollen that they get from the plants. In this activity, we’ll support our local pollinators by making seed paper!
This activity will take about 10 minutes of preparation and includes about 30 minutes of learning time. It’s great for all ages!
- Seeds of native plants
- Scrap paper
- Tray or cutting board
- Cheesecloth (Can complete without cheesecloth)
- Sponge or rolling pin
- Towels or another type of absorbent material
1. To support our local pollinators, it’s important that you select seeds for a variety of native flowers that differ in color and shape. Information on North Carolina or South Carolina native plants can be found here:
Note: Encourage older learners to look up common pollinators in your area, and research food needs for their larvae stage so that when you plant, your garden supports all stages of their lifecycle. For example, if a monarch likes to visit your house, consider planting milkweed for those hungry caterpillars.
2. Using paper scraps like tissue, notebook paper, magazines, newspaper and copy paper, tear it up, shred it or cut the paper into little pieces then soak the paper in warm water for 10 minutes.
3. Put your paper pieces into the blender, adding warm water until you’ve filled it to the max line. Blend your paper mixture into a smooth pulp then add your native plant seeds into your pulp mixture.
4. Lay your cheesecloth onto a tray or cutting board and then pour out your pulp. If you don’t have a cheese cloth, no sweat, just be prepared to have a sponge on hand for the next step.
5. Using your hands, a rolling pin or sponge, spread out your pulp mixture. Use your sponge to remove as much water as possible. If needed, as you spread out your “soon-to-be-paper,” transfer it to a new tray or board to assist you in eliminating excess water. Roll your paper out as thin as you can. Once you are happy with the thickness and shape, set it out to dry for 1-2 days.
6. Now it is time to plant your paper. Pollinators prefer areas with high density of plant life so instead of planting your paper in single line, plant in clumps.