Collegiate Plant Initiative outreach director, Samantha (Sam) Nuzzi, poses with two plants moments before they are given freely to students. Credit: courtesy of Katie Black

Students can pick up a new plant — and maybe a green thumb — thanks to the university’s first-ever Plant Drop, a giveaway of 1,000 free plants to Ohio State students.

The collaborative event between Chadwick Arboretum and Collegiate Plant Initiative aims to provide students with a free lemon coral sedum from Proven Winners, the 2019 annual plant of the year, according to the Chadwick Arboretum website.

 “No catch,” Virginia Frazier, executive director of CPI, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “making people love plants,” said. “Just show up, wait around a little bit, and get some free stuff.”

Frazier said it is difficult to kill lemon coral sedums, calling them “easy, simple, dorm-proof.”

“Our basic goal is to just bring a little bit of happiness to students, even if it’s just for one day,” Frazier said.

The event will take place Wednesday in front of Howlett Hall, rain or shine, Mary Maloney, director of Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens, said. 

She added that the Chadwick Arboretum is teaming up with CPI to help students learn more about plants and relieve “plant blindness.”

“When we give students a plant, it introduces them to the plant world, which, you know, if you breathe air and eat food, you need to be knowledgeable of,” Maloney said.

Although students can officially start picking up plants on a first come, first served basis at 1 p.m., Frazier said there will be an opportunity to talk to organizers about basic plant care and the event’s purpose at 12:30 p.m.

Frazier added that students can also receive a Plant Drop sticker customized for the event.

Although Plant Drop is new to Ohio State, Frazier said it has already had success in other parts of the country. 

Frazier said she has been involved in many Plant Drop events in the past, including one at the University of Florida in fall 2018. 1,000 plants were given away in just 2 1/2  minutes that day, the organization’s fastest giveaway yet.

“It’s a lot of excitement,” Frazier said. “It’s almost like a flash mob.”

Peg McMahon, former Ohio State horticulture professor, said caring for the plants is not difficult, but having a window for them is helpful.

Maloney said she has accidentally killed plants in the past, and so have McMahon and Frazier, but added that killing a plant is not a failure; it is instead an opportunity to “increase awareness of what’s required.”

Frazier said according to studies being conducted at the University of Florida, caring for a plant may also have therapeutic effects on the caregiver.

“Students tell us that taking care of a little plant is almost like taking care of themselves,” Frazier said, adding that students are able to relieve stress and improve their study habits by adding the responsibility of a plant to their lives.

Conversations will start at 12:30 p.m., and Plant Drop will start at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Howlett Hall. The event is open to all students with no RSVP required. More information on the event can be found on the Chadwick Arboretum website.