Mother Earth’s Plantasia, by Mort Garson (1976)


Everyone loves music.

Sure, there may be some extreme outliers who don’t really get down with the ol’ ‘ear candy’, but even the hardest heart will unknowingly tap their toe when the music picks up. Which is why composer Mort Garson decided to see if even the most notorious of stoics, your garden variety houseplant, would boogie down to tunes made especially for them.

That may sound pretty out there, which is why you need a little context: this was the 1970s. People were expanding their thinking, discussing everything from the now-mainstream concepts of yoga and communal living, to more esoteric ideas like pyramid energy, breatharianism, and the sentience of everyday houseplants.

Early in the decade, the now-infamous book The Secret Life of Plants (1973) by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird was published to an eager audience of indoor gardeners. The book posited an overflowing handful of outrageous claims: plants were telepathic, could hear prayers, listen in on other galaxies, and even "might originate in a supramaterial world of cosmic beings which, as fairies, elves, gnomes, sylphs, and a host of other creatures, were a matter of direct vision and experience to clairvoyants”.

Your houseplants were also, apparently, really judging your musical tastes. Plants could be made to grow stronger, faster, and live longer and healthier lives, depending upon the music you were playing for them.

Enter the Canadian composer, occultist, and all around Moog-master Mort Garson. He took Tompkins and Bird’s book to heart and in 1976 made an album specifically for your houseplants. Mother Earth’s Plantasia found little critical popularity but a home at legendary nursery Mother Earth’s Plant Boutique on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, as owners Lynn and Joel Rapp (famous in their own right for numerous books on raising plants) made both the album art and liner notes. Every plant purchase included the album, as well as a book by the Rapps on caring for your new green buddy.

Plantasia was popular for a time as a novelty (though we’re sure there were some true believers), but slowly suffered the same fate as most niche vinyl of the time, ending up in thrift store dollar bins and moldering in cardboard boxes in your parent’s garage. But decades later, among music-heads, vinyl collectors, and DJ’s, the album has slowly regained popularity as both a novelty and a seriously listenable set of songs.

Sacred Bones Records picked up and rereleased the album earlier this year, and it’s now available for both purchase and streaming. We recommend you purchase the vinyl, though, as it comes with a fully restored original booklet by the Rapps, new liner notes by Andy Beta of Pitchfork, and in keeping with the quaintness, the download card is made of plantable seed paper.

Mort Garson, fiddling around with his Moog

Mort with his daughter, Day

The original album cover