Do you talk to your plants? If not, maybe you should – nearly half, 48%, of people surveyed by Trees.com admitted that they talk to the leafy creatures.
And a majority of those individuals, 62%, believe it has helped their mental health.
The survey polled 1,250 people, asking if, why and how often they talk to their plants.
A majority say they only talk to their houseplants. However, 62% talk to outdoor plants and 37% talk to the trees they walk by on the street.
When asked how often they talk to their plants, 70% of participants say “occasionally” and 9% only talk to their plants “rarely.”
But 1 in 5 people say they talk to their plants at home or to the trees outside every single day.
And over a fifth of participants, 27.67%, say they’ve hugged a plant and even 22.5% have kissed one.
When asked why they participate in what most would consider an unusual practice, these were a few of the responses:
“I think it is fun and I have read it helps them grow.””I am proud and happy as my plants are beautiful!!””They have feelings and when I talk to my plants, they move.””They’re our beautiful friends [I want to] thank them for their beauty. Indoor plants help with oxygen [too], I believe.””I don’t know that I have a reason. I think it’s more me just thinking out loud.”
Regardless of how you choose to interact with your plants, owning the oxygen-producing organisms can be beneficial for overall health, including mental health, according to Gary Altman,director of the horticultural therapy program at Rutgers University.
“Having plants around in your home or office really does help to increase positive feelings and reduce feelings of fear and anger, which are associated with that uncertainty of what’s to come next,” Altman tells CNBC Make It.
Plant care as a form of healing is called horticultural therapy, and Altman describes the practice as “using plants for the purposes of treatment and rehabilitation for folks who are recovering from an illness or injury or adjusting to a disability.”
The treatment can be used for people who struggle with mental health and those with physical disabilities or developmental/intellectual disabilities, according to Altman.
Horticultural therapy allows individuals to process challenges that they’re facing in their own lives by shifting their focus to being in control of something that is more predictable, he notes.
“Just stepping away from the thing that’s stressing you out and turning to your plants for a few minutes, maybe misting them, watering them,” says Altman, “That gives you a little bit of space to provide yourself some sanctity.”
Not to mention, having a plant on your desk while working has been linked to less stress and anxiety while on the clock.
And studies found that the world’s longest-living people garden as a hobby.
Being a plant parent can also teach you valuable lessons before committing to a huge responsibility like getting a pet, says Altman.
Looking to your plant can be a check-in for yourself to decide if you’re ready to take a big step that holds more weight, he adds.
“It’s kind of like a tool to measure how well you’re doing,” says Altman. “It’s about learning that nurturing skill, so for folks that maybe may not be in the best place of your life, there could be a lesson to learn there.”
You can even reap some of the benefits of having a real plant if you consider alternatives like aesthetically-pleasing, artificial plants and hanging images of nature around your home, he says.
But it’s also important to remember that as a first-time plant owner, there will be ups and downs.
“I just learned from my mistakes, so I encourage folks to not get discouraged if their plants don’t grow and thrive and look as good as they might look on Instagram,” Altman says.
“That’s kind of not the point. The point is to learn from the experience and doing.”