Cultural geography has a long and proud tradition of research into human–plant relations. However, until recently, that tradition has been somewhat disconnected from conceptual advances in the social sciences, even those to which cultural geographers have made significant contributions. With a number of important exceptions, plant studies have been less explicitly part of more-than-human geographies than have animal studies. This special issue aims to redress this gap, recognising plants and their multiple engagements with and beyond humans. Plants are not only fundamental to human survival, they play a key role in many of the most important environmental political issues of the century, including biofuels, carbon economies and food security. In this introduction, we explore themes of belonging, practices and places, as discussed in the contributing papers. Together, the papers suggest new kinds of ‘vegetal politics’, documenting both collaborative and conflictual relations between humans, plants and others. They open up new spaces of political action and subjectivity, challenging political frames that are confined to humans. The papers also raise methodological questions and challenges for future research. This special issue grew out of sessions we organised at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in New York in 2012.