The Plantmoji Project: 2020 Updates

Gardening ๐ŸŒฟ teaches us many things, including patience  and the acceptance of failures ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ. So too, it turns out, does emoji-making. In 2019 the Garden submitted ๐Ÿ“ฉ a proposal for an official orchid emoji to the Unicode Consortium, the governing body that oversees emoji. One year later the orchid remains close to reaching its goal (more on that below ๐Ÿ‘‡), but several other new plantmoji proposals were not so lucky. Here is a recap of our emoji efforts in 2020.

Plantmoji and the Pandemic

The hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic ๐Ÿ˜ท also created significant issues for the emoji approval โœ… process. The new emoji announced ๐Ÿ“ข earlier in 2020 (Unicode 13.0) were released on schedule and should be available on most platforms right now. Because of the challenges created by the pandemic, 2021 will see a smaller release of emoji (Unicode 13.1), with the next full set of new emoji slated for 2022 (Unicode 14.0).

The pandemic did create some unexpected work-from-home ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿก  time that turned out to be perfect for researching and proposing new plantmoji. Cassidy Moody, the Gardenโ€™s unofficial plantmoji advocate and author of this post, teamed up with Emojination to identify plants that could make good candidates for emojification.

Venus Fly Trap

Perhaps the most promising of the 2020 plantmoji proposals was the Venus fly trap. After all, there are no other carnivorous plants currently represented in emoji form. And, it had the added benefit of personification because of the Venus fly trap’s human-like โ€œmouthโ€ ๐Ÿ‘„ leaves. In what weโ€™re told was a hotly debated decision, the Emoji Subcommittee (ESC) ultimately turned down ๐Ÿ‘Ž the proposal over concerns it wouldnโ€™t see enough usage. There are some members of Emojination determined to see a comeback, so the book ๐Ÿ“– may not be entirely written yet.

Oak Leaf

There are only four emoji currently representing deciduous trees ๐ŸŒณ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ. An arboreal tragedy, if you ask us. Thatโ€™s one reason we created and submitted a proposal for an oak leaf emoji. Oaks have long held symbolic meaning in certain cultures, and it is an important timber tree. The artwork was chosen to accentuate the lobed margins many of us associate with certain species of oak leaves. Unfortunately, these arguments were not enough to sway the ESC.

Green Thumb

Whether you use the American Green Thumb or the United Kingdomโ€™s Green Fingers, the two expressions have long represented those with a particular knack for growing plants. This proposal sought to combine the existing thumbs up ๐Ÿ‘ emoji with the seedling ๐ŸŒฑ emoji in whatโ€™s known as a Zero Width Joiner (ZWJ). These proposals are handled somewhat differently than entirely new emoji, but still held to a similar litmus test for acceptance. The ESC countered that the expression is not used enough globally and the idea of a green thumb can already be conveyed with ๐ŸŸฉ ๐Ÿ‘.


Looking to show a little love ๐Ÿ’š to the succulents, we submitted a proposal for one of the most well-known species, aloe vera. Its notable skin-soothing properties are just some of the many reasons people use this popular plant. Designer and former Garden intern Olivia Whitesides created the artwork ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŽจ, showing the familiar form many of you may have potted and perched on your kitchen windowsill. This proposal slipped in just ahead of the most recent submission deadline, and is still awaiting feedback from the ESC. ๐Ÿคž


The Gardenโ€™s first plantmoji submission, an orchid emoji, may need some more time โณin the emoji greenhouse before itโ€™s ready for public display. The proposal, submitted in 2019, advanced all the way to provisional status this year. However, it narrowly missed the cut on the list of emoji recommended by the ESC for inclusion in Unicode 14.0. Unicode will make a final announcement at a later date, but if things stay as is, the orchid emoji will be on standby for consideration in Unicode 15.0. That means the earliest we could see it online is likely sometime in 2023 ๐Ÿ“†. 

Where We Go from Here

It should be noted, the Garden is far from alone in the effort to see more plants as emoji. Emojination alone has helped with the creation of more than half a dozen plantmoji proposals (among them wood, potted plant, olive, blueberries, leafy green, garlic, onion, and broccoli). Several other plant proposals from Emojination contributors are also in various stages of completion. By staying engaged with others seeking to create more plantmoji, we can offer advice those creators might find useful.

One of the ways the Garden can play a role in the emoji process is by sharing our vast botanical knowledge and translating it into emoji representation. We have previously looked at which plant families are represented by emoji. Now we can focus on those that are not. A more complete picture of the plantmoji possibilities would serve as a helpful tool ๐Ÿ›  for the ESC as they consider future plant proposals. We’re putting together a team of botanists, ethnobotanists, and horticulturists to explore those possibilities more in-depth.

As those efforts unfold, weโ€™ll be sure to share our progress with you. And remember gardening, and emojis, both require patience. It will likely be years before we can enjoy the fruits ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ‡๐Ÿ‹ of this labor, but it will be worth it.

๐ŸŒณCassidy Moody๐ŸŒณ
Senior Digital Media Specialist and Plantmoji Advocate

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