Your Plants Will Get You Through 2021 ❤️

Plant therapy is more common than you think — it’s practiced all around the world, and many universities in the U.S. and beyond have dedicated horticultural therapy programs. There’s even an American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA). 

Of course, the emotional and mental health benefits of caring for plants aren’t lost on us. Below, find everything you need to know about plant therapy, from simple techniques to benefits and beyond. 

What Is Horticultural Therapy?

Licensed horticultural therapists work with patients spanning children to the elderly to help them improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. “In physical rehabilitation, horticultural therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance,” reports the AHTA. “In vocational horticultural therapy settings, people learn to work independently, problem-solve, and follow directions.”

The Benefits of Horticultural Therapy 

Spending Time Outdoors

As mentioned above, countless studies show that spending time outdoors — whether tending to plants, taking a walk, or simply living near nature — is good for your mental health. Gardening requires time spent outside day after day tending therapeutic gardens, which slowly allows patients to connect with nature and reap its many healing benefits. 

Learning a New Skill 

So much of garden therapy’s benefits lie in creating structure and building confidence, especially for those struggling with mental illness, depression, anxiety, or addiction. Learning a new skill, whether it’s pruning a houseplant or managing a full-blown garden, helps engender a sense of accomplishment and responsibility. 

Mindfulness & Observation 

Engrossing yourself in a healthy activity like gardening encourages mindfulness — another age-old practice with roots in ancient Buddhism. Mindfulness, or the act of living in the present moment, boasts countless mental and physical health benefits that have been corroborated many times over. Studies show that mindfulness can manage anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more. 

Nurturing Another Life

Caring for plants allows us to assume responsibility for another living thing, however small. The simple idea that something needs your care in order to thrive can speak volumes for those in the grip of depression, addiction, or even old age. Watching your plants grow and thrive taps into our hard-wired desire to nurture.

How to Integrate Horticultural Therapy At Home

If you’ve ever felt relaxed or at ease when going about your plant care routine, you’ve practiced this therapy firsthand. Horticultural therapy is all about being completely engrossed in the activity at hand, whether it’s watering your indoor plants or tending to a sprawling backyard garden. It’s similar to losing yourself in a hard workout or a complicated recipe — for a moment, that inner stream of worries, fears, and pressures is silenced. 

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