I am building a Circle of Spores druid and do not feel like animate dead would fit well in the party that I am joining, so I am looking to re-flavour it to be more plant based.
I will probably add a follow up question on plant-based equivalents to zombies and skeletons, but for now I am just looking at the spell itself.
To replicate the requirement for corpses I created a cantrip which will create the materials for the new spell, and that cantrip requires bodies.
Casting time: 1 action
Components: V, S
Duration: 1 minute
You reach out and touch the corpse of a creature. Over the next minute, the corpse begins to rapidly decompose, sprouting fungus and moss as it begins to decay into mulch.
At the end of the duration, you can use your action to extract a single seed from the corpse, which can be used as a component for the Animate Plants spell.
Applicable requirements for resurrection are not affected by this spell.
The spell itself:
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S, M (a seed created by the decompose cantrip, a drop of water, and a pinch of dirt or soil)
This spell creates a plant based servant.
You plant the seed in the ground and as it grows your spell imbues it with life, raising it as a creature. The target quickly grows into the shape of a humanoid with the stats of either a skeleton or zombie (you choose) over the casting time of the spell.
On each of your turns, you can use a bonus action to mentally command any creature you made with this spell if the creature is within 60 feet of you (if you control multiple creatures, you can command any or all of them at the same time, issuing the same command to each one).
You decide what action the creature will take and where it will move during its next turn, or you can issue a general command, such as to guard a particular chamber or corridor. If you issue no commands, the creature only defends itself against hostile creatures.
Once given an order, the creature continues to follow it until its task is complete. The creature is under your control for 24 hours, after which it stops obeying any command you've given it.
To maintain control of the creature for another 24 hours, you must cast this spell on the creature again before the current 24-hour period ends. This use of the spell reasserts your control over up to four creatures you have animated with this spell, rather than animating a new one.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you animate or reassert control over two additional undead creatures for each slot level above 3rd.
The majority of the text from animate plants is taken directly from the animate dead spell, so I think the crux of the matter is if there are any likely shenanigans I can pull with my version that the corpse requirement prevents on the normal version, plus anything else I have not thought about.