The Power of Flowers for Emotional Health

The Power of Flowers for Emotional Health

If you live in a cold climate where gray skies and a brown winter landscape may soon get you down, you don’t need to wait for next Spring’s greenery to perk up your house or your spirits. Most people recognize that a bouquet of roses or some spring tulips can bring a smile to someone’s face, but scientific research now backs up the instinct to enjoy flowers.

Behavioral researchers at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, spent 10 months exploring the link between flowers and life satisfaction. Researchers at Harvard University found that seeing flowers first thing in the morning provides a boost of energy for people.

The Society of American Florists recently partnered with designer Kelli Ellis, a founding partner of Design Campus and star of Design Therapy on the Design Network, and Mark Woodman, a designer and president of the Color Marketing Group, a nonprofit association that studies color trends, to create a series of videos related to flowers. The "Two Minute Trends" videos demonstrate the art and science of using flowers as a design tool to inspire emotions and foster closer connections between people. For example, Ellis and Woodman suggest placing bright flowers in a location where you can see them first thing in the morning, such as next to your coffeepot in your kitchen or in the middle of the breakfast table to add a little extra zing to your chosen caffeinated beverage.

Scientific research into flowers blooms

Rutgers’ researchers found that:

  1. Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness. All study participants expressed "true" or "excited" smiles upon receiving flowers, demonstrating extraordinary delight and gratitude. This reaction was universal, occurring in all age groups.
  2. Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods. Specifically, study participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction.
  3. Flowers make intimate connections. The presence of flowers led to increased contact with family and friends.

Floral research and design inspiration

After reviewing the research, Ellis and Woodman decided to use their own expertise in design and color choices to share advice about how flowers can do more than just look pretty.

Flowers are commonly part of TV talk show sets and are used in hotel lobbies for more than just decoration. They also serve as conversation starters and to create a warm atmosphere.

Flower arrangements can be a symbol of sharing and encourage conversations and connections between people. Many people opt to display flowers in their foyer, living room and dining room, places where they host guests. Woodman suggests bright citrus colors and bright greenery for the floral arrangements in public spaces of your home to increase the energizing power of the flowers.

Researchers found that flowers can also soothe negative emotions, Ellis reports in one of the videos. She and Woodman recommend introducing flowers into places where you want to invoke tranquility. Whether you want to create a retreat in your bedroom or perhaps a spa-like atmosphere in your bathroom, Ellis and Woodman suggest choosing flowers in softer colors to reduce stress. Pale lavender and blue-violet tones, even if they are darker than traditional pastels, can evoke a Zen-like calm in a room.

To learn more about the power of adding flowers to your home design, visit

Floral photos credit: Courtesy of Society of American Florists.