Plants are the healers of the earth. Their communities are sanctuaries of restoration for others by simply growing for themselves.
- They transform poisonous gas into fresh air we can breathe.
- They hold the ground together beneath our feet with their root systems.
- They heal our wounds with the vital compounds stored in their leaves, flowers, roots and stems.
Plants just keep on giving. They offer us small, selfless acts of kindness everyday that we don’t have to earn or ask for. Plants offer us wisdom in so many ways, especially when it comes to random acts of kindness (random, selfless, and oftentimes small acts that offer kindness to the outside world).
Randomness is often chalked-up to being careless or haphazard, but when it comes to acts of kindness, randomness is about being selfless, unexpected, and delighting others with gestures (no matter how small) that increase kindness in the world with no-strings-attached.
Practicing random acts of kindness has the same effect on humans as when we’re in contact with plants, increasing self confidence and calmness. Research shows that routine gestures of care for ourselves, loved ones, and strangers alike releases positivity and neurochemicals that give us a sense of well-being. Basically, it feels nice to be nice. Why not heighten the experience on a planetary scale? Using plants to enact kindness helps the earth to heal as well as each other.
Grow More Plants
Goodbye Stress, Hello Horticultural Therapy. Our relationship with the earth is essential to how we approach one another and the world around us. Growth and more biodiversity on the earth is our strength, not just for the environment but for our shared communities.
Growing more plants is our favorite random act of kindness, so much so that, in addition to our hands-on Plant Subscription program, we offer a plant sharing initiative Plant Kindness to inspire random acts of kindness using plants, given anonymously by strangers. You can nominate yourself or someone you know in need of a loving dose of green in their life.
Plants play a vital role in our journey of healing from grief, deep-rooted trauma, substance abuse and mental health issues, too. The use of plants in physical and mental rehabilitation treatment dates back centuries before psychiatry became a science. Horticulture has been a core component to patient care for people recovering from addiction, physical therapy, and for people with physical or learning disabilities.
“Horticulture is not a new therapeutic tool,” writes P. D. Hefley, a horticultural researcher who in the early 1970s documented the use of plants in medical care going back to the 1700s in Europe where garden activities were believed to be curative. In 1806, one of the first hospitals in Spain prescribed gardening as a treatment for behavioral health. Sinking your fingers into the soil was literally the doctor’s orders.
Propagate Your Plants + Share the Abundance
If the philosophy of plants could be reduced to one word it would be abundance. On their own, plants reproduce freely and abundantly. It’s easy for humans to discount how much life is stored inside their stems until you plop a loose cutting in water and watch the roots grow. Plants don’t operate out of scarcity. With even a small fraction of light and water, they find ways to bloom and grow.
Propagating your plants is one of our favorite ways to share love and to honor the reproductive capacities of plant life. Their abilities to recreate themselves and keep growing after being seemingly broken is a reminder that we too can cultivate new life even from our failures. When plants flourish, we flourish, and sharing the abundance of plants freely keeps the cycle going.
If plant care is when we nurture plants, then green care is when plants nurture us. According to the American Horticultural Therapeutic Association (AHTA), green care interventions use plants as tools for patients to regain skills or learn how to function through cognitive and occupational therapies. Leisurely activities with plants (even propagation itself!) improve memory, strengthen balance, and sharpen problem-solving skills.
Interacting with plant life has been shown to reduce stress and increase relaxation, partly because we perceive plants as non-threatening.
The world can be a demanding place but plants offer solace from confusion, miscommunications and emotional baggage.
Think about it, there’s no guilt or shame in a room filled with houseplants. They don’t demand anything of you. With plants, the vibes are always right and their aura is inviting, offering us literal and figurative shelter from life’s storms.
Plants don’t judge. Instead, they offer an unspoken permission for us to exist as we are with our imperfections, which makes the gift of a plant’s presence a radical act of kindness in and of itself.
Plants Aren’t Perfect and Neither Are We
The presence of plants reminds us to let go of perfectionism in ourselves and others. Watch and you'll notice how your houseplants grow in all directions—sometimes predictably following the light and, at other times, totally chaotic. But no matter the randomness of their movements or the unexpectedness of their growth, each flourish they make is beautiful and yours is, too.
Using plants as an act of kindness comes with the responsibility to care for them. But nestled within menial tasks of plant care are boundless opportunities for healing. Plants offer a stable routine and calming rhythm, allowing you to take your mind off the problems weighing you down and focus your attention on the plant. Tending to a plant’s needs can increase feelings of self-respect, self-esteem, and provide a better overall sense of well-being. Consider how much more time we can spend being mindful of one another when we spend less time being perfectionists. Just being mindful is an invaluable random act of kindness.
Meditate, Rest, + Grow Together
Reflecting on self-preservation isn’t an individualistic activity but one that extends to our communities and environment. In this framework, caring for ourselves prompts care for others and concern for our shared future.
The presence of plants elevates our reflections, and their stillness teaches us to rest. Emotional and physical growth are often framed as active behaviors—talking to a therapist, journaling, going for a run, even having a good cry. Movement and productivity can sometimes hold too much of the limelight leaving passivity demoted as lazy or unproductive. The beauty of green places—whether it’s your indoor houseplant sanctuary or outdoor communal spaces—is that plants invite us to rest alongside them, which is perhaps the most integral part of healing. Stillness is where the magic happens.
Rest creates opportunities for reflection and reciprocity, which generate more acts of kindness.
Researchers assert that, “reflection is the most powerful tool with which a person can internalize new and more suitable ways of thinking. Reciprocity is embodied in nurturing our ecosystem, which is our home, and preventing its degradation” (Nilsson 2011).
Plant life is a salient reminder of the nature that we belong to and are part of. As living co-educators and co-therapists, plants hold power to help us heal, they inspire us (often with our knowledge!) to live in abundance on a day-to-day basis, and to grow more kindness in the world.
Nilsson, Kjell. Forests, Trees and Human Health. New York: Springer, 2011. Internet resource.
Artz, Brianna, and Davis D. Bitler. "Green Care: a Review of the Benefits and Potential of Animal-Assisted Care Farming Globally and in Rural America." Animals : an Open Access Journal from Mdpi. 7.4 (2017). Print.Hefley, P D. "Horticulture: a Therapeutic Tool." Journal of Rehabilitation. 39.1 (1973): 27-9. Print.