Chicago Botanic Garden

Horticultural Therapy Services

PHOTO: A veteran repotting plants.

What is Horticultural Therapy?

Horticultural therapy is the use of professionally directed plant, gardening, and nature activities for the purpose of optimizing the physical and mental health of its participants.

Have you noticed how a walk in the forest or being around plants makes you feel better, or how happy you are when you pick the season's first vine-ripe tomato? How about when you share a favorite perennial with a friend or see someone admiring your garden?

When people are engaged in appreciating or tending plants, their sense of well-being increases. A trained horticultural therapist fosters this benefit. Stress exacerbates every physical or emotional ailment; counteracting stress has a positive impact on attaining good health.

Horticultural therapy capitalizes on the many special benefits
of using plants to help people grow.

Horticultural therapy maintains or improves physical health by providing unlimited opportunities for exercising, increasing flexibility, improving coordination and balance, and building physical strength. Multiple studies have demonstrated that physiological indicators such as respiration, pulse, and blood pressure respond positively to engagement with plants.

Horticultural therapy elicits positive psychological and emotional responses by relieving stress, providing a nonthreatening atmosphere, alleviating depression, and helping people connect with nature. Research studies confirm these and many other psychosocial benefits when people interact with plants and nature.