The Psychology Behind Flowers

July 27, 2017 3 min read


by Hannah Cangilla

It's no secret--we all love giving and receiving flowers. Across all countries, cultures, and generations, people have enjoyed the gift of flowers for as long as scientists and anthropologists can trace. But why is this? Some people believe that our adoration for flowers as gifts is purely societal, meaning we like them because we are supposed to like them, but among people who study behavioural psychology there is a growing consensus that there is something more going on when we react positively to flowers. New research shows that flowers, specifically the sight and the smell of them, can change your brain chemistry and lead to more positive feelings and emotions, says Jeannette Haviland-Jones, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the Human Emotions Lab at Rutgers University. Here are some of the perks of living with flowers:

Flowers Create Happiness
Need a mood boost? Receiving flowers, whether you bought them for yourself or they were sent from another person, can give you an immediate boost of happiness. A bouquet of flowers means that someone cares for you. A bouquet with bright colors and sweet, soothing scent can brighten any room. Give yourself some love and add some blooms to your home or spread the love by picking up some fresh flowers for the important people in your life.

Flowers Boost Creativity
Texas A&M University researchers found that women had more innovative ideas and creative solutions to problems when flowers were nearby their workstations. Next time a work project has you stumped or your calculus homework has your head spinning, try adding some blooms to your desk to get you through your day.

Flowers Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Reach for a bunch of daisies instead of a pint of Ben & Jerrys when you’re down. There is a reason that people turn to gardening when they are stressed out or battling the blues. There is a reason people give flowers as gifts for patients in the hospital; yes, it’s a thoughtful thing to do, but it may help patients heal faster. More commonly, hospitals include access to green space for patients in recovery because simply spending some time in the fresh air surrounded by plants and flowers helps stressed people feel more relaxed and a more relaxed patient typically heals faster than someone who is stressed out. Don’t just save that knowledge for someone in the hospital, treat yourself to those same benefits next time work or life has you feeling under the weather or stressed out.

Color Therapy
The effects of colors on the brain are well-known and flowers elevate our moods through color. When you’re picking a bunch of flowers in your yard or at the local farmers’ market, remember that less saturated and brighter colors are generally more relaxing, while bold saturated colors will energize you. A bunch with colors that fall near each other on the color wheel will also be more calming; with the opposite effect ensuing if the colors are opposite each other. Curvy shapes have generally been shown to be relaxing — make an informed choice!

Fragrance is another way that flowers affect the brain. For example, phenylethylamine is a chemical in roses that gives them their signature scent. This chemical holds an amino acid that slows the breakdown of beta endorphins; beta endorphins are hormones responsible for making us feel euphoric and in love. Other flower scents help promote sleep, relaxation and health. A whole field of study is devoted to aromatherapy and how it affects the brain. City Roots includes fresh herbs like mint and basil in arrangements, making the whole room smell fresh and amazing.

Who knew that something as simple as a flower could have all of these amazing beneficial effects on the human brain? Well, all of us who have ever received flowers, really. Science is now proving what we have always known to be true.

Check out the new flower CSA shares at City Roots to keep beautiful blooms in your home or office all season long.  h

Here are the flowers we are planning!

Ageratum, Bachelor Button, Calendula, Celosia, Cosmos, Sun Ball, Flowering Basil, Dill, Mint, and Oregano, Gladiolus, Gomphrena, Lilies, Marigold, Salvia, Scabiosa, Snapdragons, Stock, Sunflower, Sweet Pea, Yarrow, Zinnia