Skip to main content

Horticultural Therapy


Horticulture therapy; Nature-assisted therapy; Social and therapeutic gardening; Therapeutic horticulture


Horticultural therapy describes a process, either active or passive, of purposefully using plants and gardens in therapeutic and rehabilitative activities designed to positively affect a set of defined health outcomes for individuals (e.g., improved mood, improved self-esteem, enhanced social interaction). Horticultural therapy can include hands-on activities, such as potting up plants, or passive involvement such as viewing a garden through an open window and listening to birdsong. The focus is on multisensory experiences and engaging all of the senses. Horticultural therapists are trained professionals who possess knowledge in plant science, human science, and horticultural therapy and are experienced in the application of horticultural therapy practice (American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) 2015; Davis 1997). However, individuals with the...


  • Residential Care Facility
  • Aged Care Facility
  • Residential Aged Care
  • Meaningful Engagement
  • Residential Aged Care Facility

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA). (2015). Definitions and positions. Retrieved from

  • Davis, S. (1997). Development of the profession of horticulture therapy. In S. P. Simpson & M. C. Strauss (Eds.), Horticulture as therapy, principles and practice (pp. 3–9). Binghamton: Haworth Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Detweiler, M. B., Sharma, T., Detweiler, J. G., Murphy, P. F., Lane, S., Carman, J., & Kim, K. Y. (2012). What is the evidence to support the use of therapeutic gardens for the elderly? Psychiatry Investigation, 9(2), 100–110.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Epstein, M., Hansen, V., & Hazen, T. (1991). Therapeutic gardens: Plant centered activities meet sensory, physical and psychosocial needs. Oregon Journal of Aging, 9, 8–14.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gigliotti, C. M., Jarrott, S. E., & Yorgason, J. (2004). Harvesting health: Effects of three types of horticultural therapy activities for persons with dementia. Dementia, 3(2), 161–180.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hartig, T., Mang, M., & Evans, G. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment and Behavior, 23, 3–26.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kaplan, R. (1973). Some psychological benefits of gardening. Environment and Behavior, 5, 145–162.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S. (1989). The experience of nature: A psychological perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kingsley, J. Y., & Townsend, M. (2006). “Dig In” to social capital: Community gardens as mechanisms for growing urban social connectedness. Urban Policy and Research, 24(4), 525–537.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Langer, E., & Rodin, J. (1976). The effects of choice and enhanced personal response for the aged: A field experiment in an institutional setting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34(2), 191–198.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Park, S., Shoemaker, C. A., & Haub, M. D. (2009). Physical and psychological health conditions of older adults classified as gardeners or nongardeners. HortScience, 44, 206–210.

    Google Scholar 

  • Relf, P. D. (1992). The role of horticulture in human well-being and social development. Portland: Timber Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scott, T. L., Masser, B. M., & Pachana, N. A. (2014). Exploring the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening for older adults. Ageing and Society. doi:10.1017/S0144686 X14000865.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ulrich, R. S. (1984). View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science, 224(4647), 420–421.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ulrich, R. S., Simons, R. F., Losito, B. D., & Fiorito, E. (1991). Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 11(3), 201–230.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wannamethee, S., Shaper, A., & Walker, M. (2000). Physical activity and mortality in older men with diagnosed coronary heart disease. Circulation, 102(12), 1358–1363.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Whall, A., Black, M., Groh, C., Yankou, D., Kupferschmid, B., & Foster, N. (1997). The effect of natural environments upon agitation and aggression in late stage dementia patients. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, 5(12), 216–220. doi:10.1177/153331759701200506.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, E. O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yee Tse, M. M. (2010). Therapeutic effects of an indoor gardening program for older people living in nursing homes. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19, 949–958.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Theresa L. Scott .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2015 Springer Science+Business Media Singapore

About this entry

Cite this entry

Scott, T.L. (2015). Horticultural Therapy. In: Pachana, N. (eds) Encyclopedia of Geropsychology. Springer, Singapore.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-287-080-3

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference Social SciencesReference Module Humanities and Social Sciences