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If you cast this spell using 1 action, choose a point within range. All normal plants in a 100-foot radius centered on that point become thick and overgrown. A creature moving through the area must spend 4 feet of movement for every 1 foot it moves.

Since the spell doesn’t specify that the plants grow along the ground or surfaces, I've been reading on some sites that I could allegedly create a "sphere of plants" with this spell. How would this work in practice if I ever cast Plant Growth in the air then? I have some difficulties visualizing it. Would it really form a sphere suspended permanently in the sky or does it simply mean that my plants could reach 100 feet of height once transmuted?

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    – V2Blast
    Oct 13, 2022 at 23:42

5 Answers 5

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Nothing in the Plant Growth spell mentions shaping

You've quoted the most important part:

If you cast this spell using 1 action, choose a point within range. All normal plants in a 100-foot radius centered on that point become thick and overgrown. A creature moving through the area must spend 4 feet of movement for every 1 foot it moves.

The caster chooses a point, as defined in the Area of effect. Any existing plant within 100 ft grow thicker and "overgrown". But they do not become topiary. Nor do they just pop into existence.

Plants that are already in that radius follow their natural course of growing; trees would get taller and wider, bushes would get bushier, and vines will creep along the ground or climb an object.

If there was a preexisting sphere, you might convince a DM that vines would follow the form of the sphere but they would not create a sphere based on this spell alone.

For instance, you might use Mold Earth to create blocks that plants would grow around, or fill, as the case may be.

But on it's own, it's just magical fertilizer. Things grow big, but not formed.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Downvoted because they do, in fact, form a sphere based on this spell alone - the movement penalty applies to the entire area effected by the spell, and it's caused by the plants, so the plants fill the entire area caused by the spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Oct 23, 2022 at 3:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000, thanks for letting me know about the down vote. If you have proof that this sphere occurs, you should add this your own answer with details. However, I, and all the other positive answerers, seem to agree that (a) normal plants do not hover 50 ft in the air, and (b) "grow thick and overgrown" does not make plants fill the area of effect, just makes them grow bigger. When the spell says, a "creature moving through the area", they don't mean the area of effect. They mean the area that now has thick and overgrown plants. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Oct 23, 2022 at 7:11
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Plant growth causes existing plants to be overgrown. It does not create plants.

Plant growth states:

All normal plants in a 100-foot radius centered on that point become thick and overgrown.

Plant growth only modifies existing plants, causing them to become overgrown and difficult to traverse. It does not create plants where there are no plants, nor does it cause a small area of existing plants to fill the entire area of the spell. If you cast it in the air and there are no plants within 100 feet of the point you chose, the spell does nothing.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This implies that the spell would be similarly ineffective in, say, a desert. Or out at sea, unless floating seaweed counts. Or above the tree-line in the mountains, etc. But also, if you brought some seeds (or maybe a small sproutling) with you, and tossed them into the air before casting, you might get around that limitation? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 14, 2022 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarrelHoffman Yes, its utility is somewhat dependent of biome. Not sure I'd count a handful of seeds as "normal plants", and even if you did, you could at most cover one square with that. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 14, 2022 at 15:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarrelHoffman Now I'm trying to imagine the sparse and tiny plants that grow above treeline in polar and alpine regions ever getting so overgrown as to impede movement. Only with the help of Magic :) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 14, 2022 at 19:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarrelHoffman "Why do you have all these potted plants in your Bag of Holding?" "Look, you never know, alright?" \$\endgroup\$
    – Cadence
    Oct 14, 2022 at 20:16
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It does not work like that

All normal plants in a 100-foot radius centered on that point become thick and overgrown.

This spell works with the plants that are already there, it makes them thicker and overgrown. It doesn't create new plants from scratch. If you cast it in the air and there are some plants on the ground within 100 feet of the point you chose then those plants will be affected but they will still be growing on the ground, just thicker and harder to get through than before. They might grow higher but still will not become a "sphere suspended in the sky". If you cast it somewhere where there's just air within 100 feet, it will not do anything since it has nothing to work with.

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Most air is filled with pollen

As other answers have pointed out, the spell does not create plants, it merely changes plants that are already present.

Even if there are no macroscopic plants in the air, however, under Earthlike conditions the air is full of plant pollen. The lighter kinds of pollen are carried hundreds of miles from their parent plant. Only if it is currently raining or has rained a short while ago would pollen be lacking from the air. In conditions of more than 80% humidity there isn't much pollen in the air, but the air would then be filled with mold and other fungal spores, which the game also treats as plants.

Interestingly, living but normal plants are not creatures, they are objects. It would be the DM's decision then how much pollen is in the air, and whether, as a plant, it would be affected by the plant growth spell. When deliberately cast in the air where there are no macroscopic plants, the plant growth spell might (at the DM's option) affect the floating pollen, making it "thick and overgrown" until a hazy cloud appeared.

This could affect movement, as described in the spell description, but it might also break verisimilitude to have a cloud of floating particles, unattached to one another or the ground, require four feet of movement cost for every foot of travel. If running the spell as written would break immersion, a DM might consider treating the effect as dust of sneezing and choking within its area.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Spells do what they say they do, no more, no less. Plant growth only inflicts movement penalties. It does not cause sneezing or choking. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Oct 21, 2022 at 4:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe (not a biology major) that pollen are not "plants", they are "spores". So it most likely wouldn't be covered by the spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Oct 23, 2022 at 7:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott IRL, pollen is the male sex cells of higher plants (gymnosperms and angiosperms). The question is whether the game includes them in what the spell calls "all normal plants". As a DM, I would expect an enlarge spell to include an entire animal, and not 'all of its somatic cells but none of its sex cells'. If a player deliberately cast this on an area of air, I would at least have a conversation about what their intent was, what they were trying to do with the spell, moreso for a circle of spores druid. I certainly wouldn't use it as a gotcha for an unsuspecting player. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Oct 23, 2022 at 14:04
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Only if there are already plants in the area of effect.

Plant growth doesn't create plants, it just amplifies the growth of existing, non-magical plants. As such, if cast on plants floating in the air, it would create the described "sphere of floating plants". This might be plants that are growing on an earthmote, plants growing in an air pocket in Wildspace, plants that generate lighter-than-air gasses somehow, etc. If you cast it on a point of space where these sorts of plants exist, you would get the effect you're asking for.

Alternately, you could cast it on a point in the air such that some ground-based plants were caught in the area of effect, so that they will grow and fill the 100-foot-radius sphere.

Once you have some suitable plants within the area of effect, they will grow to fill the entire area of effect:

A creature moving through the area [the 100-foot-radius sphere] must spend 4 feet of movement for every 1 foot it moves.

This movement penalty applies to the entire area, and it is caused by the overgrown plants.

As for the duration of the spell, it's listed as instantaneous - the plants will grow to fill the space, and then nature will take its course, depending on the nature of the plants. If you create a two-hundred-foot-diameter aerial sphere that grew from a five-foot patch of grass where it touched the ground, it's probably going to promptly collapse to the ground and die.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Alternately, you could cast it on a point in the air such that some ground-based plants were caught in the area of effect, so that they will grow and fill the 100-foot-radius sphere." I've downvoted because of this claim in particular, this seems well beyond the scope of what "thick and overgrown" means. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 20, 2022 at 13:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ In short: The plants grow thicker not upper. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 20, 2022 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov They fill the entire 100-foot-radius sphere. Even when cast on the ground, flying creatures will be effected by the slowing effect when within the area of effect. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Oct 21, 2022 at 2:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ it seems you are misunderstanding what this spell does, it affects plants that are within 100 feet of casting point, it won't make them automatically fill the entire 100 feet area \$\endgroup\$
    – AnnaAG
    Oct 21, 2022 at 8:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ no, they do not, nothing suggests that they fill the entire sphere. If you just have a single tree within range it will not grow into 100 feet radius sphere. \$\endgroup\$
    – AnnaAG
    Oct 21, 2022 at 11:20

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