Plants and Healing: Hospitals “Greening Up” Healthcare

Posted on Mar 6, 2014

If you have visited a friend of family member in a hospital, chances are you brought them flowers or a plant.


Besides being a thoughtful gesture, studies have shown that plants play an important role in the healing process. Viewing settings with plants or nature for a few minutes can promote measurable restoration even in hospital patients who are acutely stressed. Patients heal more quickly, use less pain medication and complain less to staff. (Ulrich, 2002)

I have read lots and lots of studies about plants and healing during my years in the plant industry. This is serious science and can be summed up in one sentence:

Plants make us FEEL GOOD.

Empirical data aside, being around plants, flowers, trees and nature goes deep within us to touch something very basic. The connection is clear and very strong. Remember the last time someone brought you a plant or a bouquet of flowers? I’ll bet you smiled, no matter what the situation at hand. That’s it, the quick moment of peace when we connect with something living.

In healthcare facilities, there is mounting evidence that healing gardens function as an effective tool for reducing stress and improving mood in patients and caregivers. Many healthcare employees use gardens as an effective means for achieving an “escape” from the stress found in caring for others. (Ulrich, 1999)

Plants make us FEEL GOOD.

One of the patient rooms' at Sharp Memorial Hospital that looks out over the Good Earth Plants "green roof."

One of the patient rooms’ at Sharp Memorial Hospital that looks out over the Good Earth Plants “green roof.”

Good Earth Plants has had the privilege of helping in the creation of a roof top garden at Sharp Memorial Hospital that is visible from the patient recovery rooms. When seen from above, the design of the plants, pots and decor creates the shape of a bar of music – and the opening notes to “Ode to Joy.” Kind of a surprise as you look out your hospital window. Made from plants and other media. Fun and beautiful!

The next time you visit someone in a healing center, bring a living plant — from the additional oxygen in the environment to just sheer beauty, a plant is a sure way to make someone smile AND heal.