Imagine walking outside in the middle of the day, and trees are shielding you from the sun. Imagine living in a house with a nice garden. Now imagine a world without plants.
Come to think of it, we take plants for granted. And words are not enough to say how important plants are. We all depend on plants for food, shelter, and medicine.
It’s only fitting that songwriters make plants as their inspiration in writing songs. In fact, we have come up with 17 of the best songs about plants. Read on to find out more.
1. “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”
Since “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” is a nursery rhyme and folk song that dates back to at least the 1700s, its exact origins are unknown. What is known is it originated in England and was first published in 1744.
The lyrics ask, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” The answer is, “With silver bells, cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row.” Some versions of this song have slightly different lyrics.
You can take the nursery rhyme at face value, but the song has many possible meanings. One could be that Mary refers to historical figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots, or Mary I of England. In these contexts, the contents of the garden would be actions they took during their lives.
2. “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” By Neil Diamond & Barbara Streisand
The melancholic track “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” was originally written by Neil Diamond as the theme song for the TV sitcom All That Glitters. However, it was his collaboration with Barbra Streisand that transformed the record into a classic.
Its lyrics center on a couple whose love has faded with time. The singers reflect on all the things they used to do, such as having conversations. Back then, they couldn’t bear to be apart from one another.
As they drift further apart, she realizes that he no longer gives her flowers. They no longer talk about the future. They entertain the idea that they could be saying goodbye to each other soon.
Related: For more, check out our list of songs about flowers here.
3. “Grow For Me” From Little Shop Of Horrors
Up next is “Grow for Me” from Little Shop of Horrors, a musical that features rock music. The musical follows Seymour and the giant venus fly trap he grows that craves human flesh. The musical premiered in 1982 and is based on a short story of the same name.
Seymour sings the song to Audrey II after it refuses to grow despite him giving it water, light, and other forms of care. Eventually, he figures out that the plant responds well to the offer of his blood.
The song represents a point where Seymour feels like he put time and effort into something and he gets nothing out of it. Soon, he will discover he got more than he bargained for.
4. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” By Marvin Gaye
Breaking up is painful enough. But it’s rubbing salt in the wound when the other person is telling everyone but you. That’s what “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” is saying. The Marvin Gaye version of this song in 1968 would be the most popular.
This song tells the story of someone who hears about his partner cheating on him. He hears about this incident from gossip or “through the grapevine.” The term “grapevine” is thought to come from black slaves who would use word of mouth to pass information to each other.
A grapevine is a popular plant-based gossip metaphor since grapevines stretch long distances and cling to their growing structure.
5. “Kiss From A Rose” By Seal
Did you know that singer-songwriter Seal was embarrassed by his song “Kiss from a Rose?” But after being featured in the Batman Forever soundtrack, the song became popular.
Its exact meaning is unclear because Seal refused to explain what the song is about. However, he mentioned that the song’s energy was his priority instead of the literal translation.
He encouraged listeners to overlay their interpretations. Many fans think the song may be about relationships. The rose in the song is a metaphor for a lover that makes his life better as it blooms.
6. “Leaves That Are Green” By Simon And Garfunkel
Our next song from Simon and Garfunkel uses the changing seasons as a metaphor. “Leaves That Are Green” was released on the duo’s 1966 album Sounds of Silence.
In the lyrics, the changing of seasons shows the ongoing passage of time, aging, and the inevitability of change. For example, leaves in the song represent youth and aging as they change with the seasons. The once-green leaves eventually “turn to brown.”
On the other hand, leaves can also represent love. A line in the song says his heart “was filled with love of a girl.” But “she faded in the night,” which tells us that at some point, a lover is gone or leaves us.
7. “Lemon Tree” By Peter, Paul, And Mary
Take it from creative songwriters to compare love to just about anything. This time, a lemon tree. In 1962, Peter, Paul, and Mary took their creative take on “Lemon Tree” and added it to their debut studio album.
The song’s lyrics convey a melancholy idea of love by comparing it to a lemon tree. In the song, the narrator’s father advises him not to “put your faith in love.” The lemon tree itself and the flowers are pretty, but the fruit is not good to eat.
It’s only later that the singer finally sees the truth in his father’s words. His lover, whom he falls deeply in love with, leaves him for another man.
8. “Let It Grow” By Eric Clapton
Our next entry, “Let It Grow,” is a song with “plant” in the lyrics. This is a ballad by Eric Clapton, released in 1974 on his second studio album, 461 Ocean Boulevard.
The lyrics reflect on the power of planting your love and letting it grow like a seed. The singer encourages the listeners to let what they plant blossom no matter the difficulties.
Just like a plant, love has to endure even the harshest weather. Day in or out, “in the sun, the rain, the snow,” let that love grow.
9. “Lotus Flower” By Radiohead
In our next song, Radiohead uses “Lotus Flower” as a metaphor for both the singer and his listeners. You can find this song from the band’s The King of Limbs album.
By listening to the entire song, you’ll agree that vocalist Thom Yorke is referring to the flexibility of their music. It also describes freedom and getting lost in the music, with the unfurling of a lotus flower representing expansion and exploration.
It is worth knowing that lotus grows in mud. Despite the environment, it grows into such a beautiful flower. The song is telling us that no matter our background, we can shine and be who we want to be.
10. “Plastic Plants” By Mahalia
Now we have a song that mentions “plants,” or plastic plants rather, as a metaphor for fake love. British singer-songwriter Mahalia released the song in 2020.
At its core, “Plastic Plants” is about loving the wrong man. The singer compares love in real life and the one that Hollywood depicts. She thinks “Hollywood made it look easy, ” so she patterns her love after what she’d seen in the movies.
Only to be disappointed because all she got “was plastic plants.” His love is not real, and she doesn’t want anything to do with someone whose “roses are dead.”
11. “Plant A Tree” By Bob Brown
A song with “plant” in the title, this next entry has a beautiful but simple and doable message for listeners. Bob Brown’s “Plant a Tree” came out in 2022 as part of his album with the same name.
The message can’t be stressed enough. The singer calls for the listeners to plant a tree from a seed or a sapling. Animals such as birds make their home the branches and leaves.
The song also mentions the situation during the Industrial Revolution when trains and factories needed wood to run. A lot of trees were felled, leaving mountains bare. Nature needs our help to be replenished, and we can by planting more trees.
Related: For more animal songs, click here.
12. “White Roses” By Flyte And The Staves
At the beginning of the song, we find that the singer is at a funeral. Throughout the song, the singer explores themes of loss and forgiveness, symbolized by white roses.
He misses the person who once planted white roses “under the arches.” Now, these plants grow around the house, serving as a reminder of that person’s absence.
13. “Strawberry Fields Forever” By The Beatles
English rock band The Beatles gave us a glimpse into their childhood in “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The song, an early example of psychedelic rock, was released in 1967.
John Lennon said that the song is an ode to Strawberry Field. This is the name of the children’s home near where Lennon lived. He also played on the grounds of Strawberry Field with his friends.
Listening to the song brings nostalgia for the plant-filled greenspace. And while most of the band’s listeners haven’t seen the place personally, it’s easy to imagine what it would be like to roam strawberry fields.
14. “Supermarket Flowers” By Ed Sheeran
Get some tissues ready for Ed Sheeran‘s “Supermarket Flowers.” The song, from his third studio album, ÷, is an ode to his late mother.
The lyrics find the singer cleaning her hospital room after her death. The supermarket flowers in question are the first thing he removes from his mother’s room. He throws away the “day old tea from the cup,” presumably his mom’s.
Judging by the get-well-soon cards and stuffed toys he had to pack away, we can tell how loved his mother was. He is overwhelmed by sadness, knowing that grief comes from a lifetime of love.
15. “The Return Of The Giant Hogweed” By Genesis
When you listen to Genesis‘ “The Return of the Giant Hogweed,” you’ll feel like it’s a fiction story. The truth is, the song is based on something real.
In the lyrics, the singer warns against the giant hogweed that is infiltrating the city. The plants mostly grow in “every river and canal” and are resistant to herbicides.
Based on facts, giant hogweeds are native to Russia (“long ago in the Russian hills”) and have been brought to Britain in the 19th century. Genesis sings about the spread with hyperbole and humor, treating the plant like a beast trying to consume the country.
16. “Two Dozen Roses” By Shenandoah
Oftentimes, it’s too late before we realize our mistakes. Take it from the American country music band Shenandoah. They released “Two Dozen Roses” on their album, The Road Not Taken.
Apparently, the singer and his love interest have recently broken up. We find him leaving flowers outside her door, hoping it would show her how sorry he is. It makes him wonder what it would have taken to keep her.
He wonders whether two dozen roses would have made a difference in their relationship. Or perhaps a bottle of wine? Perhaps he should have cried harder. But then again, it’s too late.
17. “Venus’ Flytrap And The Bug” By Stevie Wonder
In 1979, the legendary Stevie Wonder presented audiences with a lush and imaginative soundtrack to the documentary The Secret Life of Plants. The album was full of beautiful tracks, including “Venus Fly Trap and The Bug.”
The song is a short and simple one consisting of only two verses. It features Wonder’s distorted voice, similar to a buzzing fly.
The simple lyrics are from the bug’s perspective as it first tells the flytrap it is coming for the nectar. The flytrap captures it, and the fly has no choice but to beg for mercy.
Summing Up Our List Of Plant Songs
Plant-themed songs, while occasionally literal, are often symbolic. They use natural imagery to describe feelings and life experiences. While this imagery can relate to positive experiences, it can also juxtapose negative topics.
There are many reasons why listening to plant-themed songs is a good idea. Besides being poetic, many of these songs evoke images of beautiful nature. Most of them have calming sounds, too, so they’re perfect for listening while surrounded by plants.