The Psychology Of Flowers And Why Humans Love Them So Much

Whether it’s looking at flowers, arranging flowers, picking, giving, or receiving flowers, there is just something about flowers that always brings me so much joy.

Which makes me wonder… why? Why are we, as human beings, so drawn to flowers? What is the psychology of flowers?

For me, there is no doubt that flowers have a profoundly positive effect on my mood. And I was wondering if there is any kind of psychological explanation for that.

It turns out that, yes, indeed there is! Research has been conducted and a few hypotheses exist on why flowers make you happy.

Prehistorically, flowers represent hope for survival

Before a plant or tree bears its fruit, it flowers. Flowers are literally the catalyst for food. 

Imagine trying to survive back in the hunter-gatherer days. You come across a tree with flowers starting to bloom on it. More than just feelings of wonder, awe, and beauty would emerge – you would feel excitement and hope, because it would mean food is on its way. 

Flowers play a critical role in humans’ evolutionary strategy. We don’t necessarily need flowers to survive. But we do need flowers if we want to have hope that we will survive.

And when we look at the psychology of flowers, they do just that. They bring us hope, and they remind us of our resiliency.

Flowers reduce physical and psychological pain

Studies show that when patients in hospitals have plants and flowers in their rooms, they experience less pain, decreased feelings of anxiety, and less fatigue than patients who have none. Not only that, patients convey a more positive attitude towards their environment and hospital staff when flowers are present.

Flowers don’t just make you happy by bringing joy – they can help to relieve psychological pain by bringing peace and comfort.

It’s no wonder we give flowers during times of grief. In those circumstances, they may not have the power to make us jump for joy with happiness, but perhaps having them around can help remedy some of the pain.

Flowers can teach you mindfulness

You might already know that mindfulness is scientifically proven to increase happiness. But perhaps you’re wondering how flowers can play a role in helping you to be more mindful.

First of all, your senses activate when you’re around flowers – humans are naturally drawn to their colors, their textures, and their scents.

Being around flowers is a multi-sensory experience. And when you pay attention to your senses, you can feel more grounded and present in the moment. Which is what mindfulness is all about.

Flowers are a part of our natural world, and exposing yourself to nature is another wonderful tool to help you be more mindful. And if you live in an apartment or big city, bringing flowers into your space can add a bit of nature and mindful awareness to your day-to-day.

And if you grow flowers, or even spend some time arranging them in a bouquet, you are engaging in a creative activity that can put you in a flow state. So instead of your mind wandering all over the place, you are engaging in an act that brings presence.

Flowers evoke positive emotions

Have you heard of the Duchenne smile? It’s a full-blown smile that reaches the eyes, and expresses true enjoyment. And you guessed it – flowers can have that effect on people.

A study conducted, where participants (all women) received either a candle, a fruit basket, or a bouquet of flowers. Every single participant that received the flowers expressed true joy through a Duchenne smile. Which was not the case with those who were given the candles or fruit.

In another part of this study, individuals in an elevator were given a Gerber daisy, a pen, or nothing. And in this experiment, participants were more likely to smile, stand at a friendlier distance, and initiate conversation when handed the flower – not with the pen – regardless of gender.

(Sidenote: I know if I had to choose between receiving a flower or a pen, it would be a no-brainer!)

This study demonstrates that flowers have positive effects on mood, social behaviors, and even memory.

How do flowers impact you psychologically?

At the end of the day, you probably don’t need to study the psychology of flowers to prove they can make you happy. All you have to do is pay attention to how you feel when you’re around them.

And the next time you treat yourself to a bouquet of blooms, know that you are doing something that has been proven to be good for your mental health.

So try it out! Head to a botanical garden (I’m obsessed with BBG) and just stroll around for a little while. See if it lifts your mood.

You can also enhance your space by stopping at your local florist to pick up a bouquet, or even send yourself flowers through Poppy Flowers or Urban Stems. And if you want something that will last, try surrounding yourself with some artificial blooms, or even a dried flower bouquet, and see how they effect your mood.

Of course, buying flowers every week can bring you a pop of joy and color, but if you’re stuck in your head most days and the uncertainty you feel about the future is making you feel hopeless, therapy can help.

Learn more about my services here, and please feel free to reach out if you’re ready to get a better handle on your mental health.

Which flowers are your favorite?! For me it’s probably peonies… but I’m also awestruck during cherry blossom season. And when summer flowers are in bloom, like sunflowers, dahlias, and cosmos. But of course I can’t forget tulips and daffodils!

So with that being said, whatever is blooming in front of me happens to be my favorite at the moment. 🙂 Let me know in the comments – which flowers bring you the most joy?


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About the author:

Paige Rechtman is a licensed psychotherapist based in Brooklyn, NY. She helps treat young professionals with anxiety, despression, and self-esteem issues.

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