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9 Health Benefits of Growing Plants

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree” - Martin Luther

Martin Luther was indeed a person who loved plants and trees.

When many of us think of plant-life we aren’t really associating plants with life, but more the life of the plant. Have I lost you yet? What I mean is that plants are actually so much more intertwined with our very being than we ever realize.

Plants not only sustain life by their consumption, they clean the air and produce oxygen. Their beauty is uplifting. They provide shade, a home, food and shelter for any number of species of insect and animal life necessary to our very survival. Including our own lives.

We all know that salads, greens, herbs and vegetables are good for us on the physical level, but what we may overlook are their positive attributions on the natural level… that inner realm where the real stuff lives.

#1 - Better Relationships

Ah yes, the spiritual aspect of our relationship with plants. Fascinating, really. The list of benefits derived from a symbiotic relationship with the natural world can no longer be overlooked.

Being in tune with your environment is essential to living a more harmonious and happy life and planting shrubs, herbs and flowers around you is an excellent place from which to begin.

If you are unable to plant them and work the soil yourself, purchase them from a local nursery or your favorite plant store. Having living plants about improves our quality of life for many reasons. Research shows that people who spend more time outside with plants have better relationships with others because they are more compassionate -- so get your hands dirty, your loved ones will thank you. 

#2 - Faster Healing

Studies have proven those hospital patients and those recovering at home with live plants in their immediate surroundings experienced accelerated recovery, felt better sooner and were back in the swing of things with less side effects than those people who did not have living plants around them.

Being a part of Nature is our nature and we respond and do better when we connect with life in that way.

#3 - Improved Memory & Concentration

“I want to thank you doctor for restoring my memory.”
"Forget it."

In addition to the calm inducing effects that being around and working with plants has on a person (even for a brief period), it has also been proven that having living plants to care for and enjoy has the remarkable ability to improve our memory. Often by a staggering 20%.

There is no doubt that having plants about to feed, water, trim or even just enjoy, exercises the brain, releases endorphins and improves memory.

#4 - Plants Make You Happier

Ever see an unhappy Flower Child? I haven’t and there’s a reason for that. Even street vendors on a busy corner selling flowers wear a smile (that could be from all the $$ they're making though). I jest. There is a science behind that smile.

When we surround ourselves with the natural beauty of flowers, it is proven that our stress levels decrease, we feel more light-hearted and our thoughts are more hopeful and optimistic. Flora and fauna are good for the eye and the soul.

Not only the aesthetic beauty they display, but their vibrancy of colors and very much, their fragrance, can induce a state one could safely describe as, euphoric. Scents have long been known to trigger pleasant memories and induce an overall sense of well being.

This gives new meaning to the old term, flower power!

#5 - Plants Are a Productivity Hack!

Having plants and shrubs as well as flowers and even small trees in the work place contribute to a more comfortable setting for the workers resulting in increased production.

Studies involving workplace environments show workers are more productive, miss less work, and are overall healthier and happier in their jobs when working in a more natural setting that incorporates plants, flowers and/or trees.

#6 - Plants Offer Food & Medicine

In an evermore health conscious society, people are going in a more natural direction. All the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants we need to stay healthy are locked inside our beautiful green world of vegetables and herbs which we can grow ourselves in many instances.

If space and time is limited, consider a simple bag garden in which to grow your herbs and flowers. A bag garden is perfect for a deck, patio, or even a small table.

Not only is it a brilliantly simple way to have an array of homegrown fresh herbs at your fingertips, it is easy to maintain and provides a little exercise, sunshine and of course, a nice little harvest of fresh herbs when cooking.

#7 - Improved Mental Health

Planting, gardening, or just being in a more natural environment has proven to have a positive effect on one's mental health.

Studies released have shown that those people who spend more time outdoors where there are trees, shrubs, flowers and sunshine, have a more positive outlook on life and are less prone to depression and sullen moods.

#8 - Less Stress

It’s a natural fact that people who care for plants inside their home or outdoors tend to be less stressed as the nurturing aspect of caring for plants has a calming effect on their psyche.

Tis’ a beautiful thing to plant a seed or cutting from a plant you enjoy and then to watch it grow and bring its life cycle to fruition. It is rewarding on many levels including the release of those good feeling endorphins that are emitted when we accomplish a task. However, the word task is relative. It becomes more a labor of love once you get into it.

#9 - A Sense of Purpose

For many elderly in today’s society, idle time is drudgery. Sadly, after a lifetime of going and doing and living actively, they find themselves with more time on their hands than ways to spend it. For many, there is little for them to do and a melancholy spirit may lead to depression.

But Zen again…maybe not. Not if they have some plants and/or flowers to water, nurture, care for, pay attention to and yes, even love.

It is well established that people who involve themselves with plants via planting, growing and caring for them, have better concentration, a marked increase in memory, and a feeling of belonging and being needed in some way.

It is remarkable the degree to which ones spirits can be lifted by merely having a few plants and flowers to care for. We all like to be needed; even if it’s just to give a flower a drink. It instills that caring, nurturing instinct in us and gives us a feeling of purpose.

And where there is purpose, there is life.

7 More Health/Wellness Benefits of Plants

  • Better Physical Health - Access to parks is correlated with more physical activity 
  • Lower Healthcare Costs - Because plants keep you healthier in a variety of ways, they end up lowering health care costs
  • More Energy - Being around plants gives you a higher energy level
  • Better Learning - Kids who spend time around plants learn better and kids with attention-deficit disorders are able to focus better
  • Higher Quality of Life - People who live around lots of plants have a better perceived quality of life
  • Lower Crime - Communities with more parks have more community cohesion and lower crime rates
  • Traffic Safety - Drivers are less likely to cross the median if there are landscaped areas between the oncoming lanes.

In Closing

One could literally write a book on the benefits of a symbiotic relationship with the natural world concerning plants. In fact, many more than one has done just that.

I would encourage looking into the myriad benefits, on multiple levels, that having plants around affords you.

Plants are good for the body; good for the mind and beneficial to us in hidden, quiescent ways that are yet to be fully understood.

Almost Cosmic, isn’t it?

For a lot more great gardening tips, see our guide on 31 Ways to Make You an Organic Gardening Guru.

About the author

    Alan Ray

    Alan Ray has written 5 books and is a New York Times best-selling author. He is a regular writer for Maximum Yield Magazine (the largest indoor gardening magazine in the world) as well as other publications including this site.Additionally, he is a multiple award-winning songwriter with awards from BMI and ASCAP respectively.Alan lives in rural Tennessee with his wife and son along with 2 dogs; a South African Boerboel and a Pomeranian/Frankenstein mix.

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