Getting to the roots of horticultural therapy

Research is fundamental to AHTA's mission to expand acceptance and application of horticultural therapy. Through research studies, scientists from around the world seek new pathways to enhance and document the impact of therapeutic intervention between clients and the plant world.

Published studies are a critical component in quantifying and substantiating the viability and credibility of horticultural therapy outcomes. In addition to extending recognition of HT achievements, these studies provide invaluable support to those horticultural therapists who actively market their services to prospective employers, healthcare professionals, and clients. Studies further contribute to the global body of knowledge surrounding the people-plant relationship.

AHTA currently offers four options for those wishing to participate in HT research efforts:

  • The AHTA Research Work Team collects, compiles, and advances state-of-the-art information and research in the specialized practice areas of horticultural therapy. It serves as a clearinghouse for researchers, educators, graduate students, and practitioners from around the world wishing to explore issues related to HT research and to collaborate on related projects. Noteworthy developments are publicized through The Research Work Team leader is Matt Wichrowski at 
  • AHTA publishes and disseminates to its members a comprehensive Bibliography of Horticultural Therapy and Related Research Studies. Full-text access may require a database subscription; however, many abstracts are available by searching Google Scholar or by utilizing a library subscription.
  • The Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture is published bi-annually by AHTA. This highly-regarded academic journal reports on the latest research findings in HT and related fields, along with in-depth articles on topics of concern to HT professionals, conference abstracts, and more.
  • The AHTA Research Networking Community is one of the best avenues for tapping into HT research resources.. The group’s objective is to promote collaborative horticultural therapy discovery among researchers, practitioners, and allied health professionals. An electronic mailing list (listserv) provides the forum where members discuss research ideas and issues in horticultural therapy and related areas, as well as exchanging summaries of their own research projects. To join, contact Matt Wichrowski at

Recent Studies of Note:

Comparing responses to horticultural-based and traditional activities in dementia care programs

Jarrott, S.E & Christina M. Gigliotti, C.M (2010). American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias 25(8) 657-665

Developing the therapeutic potential of embodied cognition and metaphors in nature-based therapy: Lessons from theory to practice

Corazon, S.S., Schilhab, T.S.& Stigsdotter, U.K. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning 11(2) 161-171

Horticultural therapy for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain: Results of a pilot study

Rra, M.L.,; Angst, F., Beck, T., Lehmann, S. Brioschi ,R. Schneiter, R. & Aeschlimann, A. (2012). Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine 18(2) 44-50

Nature-assisted therapy: Systematic review of controlled and observational studies

Annerstedt, M. & Wahrborg, P. (2011). Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 39, 371-388

Primary-care based participatory rehabilitation: Users' views of a horticultural and arts project

Barley, E.A., Robinson, S. & Sikorski, J. (2012). British Journal of General Practice 62(595) 127-34

The psychological benefits of indoor plants: A critical review of the experimental literature

Bringslimark, T., Hartig, T. & Patil, G.G. (2009). Journal of Environmental Psychology 29(4) 422-433

Therapeutic gardens and horticultural therapy: Growing roles in health care

Horowitz, S.(2012). Alternative & Complementary Therapies 18(2) 78-83