woman office happy plant

Plants are scientifically proven mood boosters. Many studies have shown the positive effects that gardening can have on your wellbeing.

Getting outdoors, or even a plant on your desk can help relieve stress, boost immunity, and help you think more clearly. This will leave you feeling positive and ready to take on the day.

There are hundreds of plants to put a smile on your face. But, there are a select few that have shown to really make you grin.

In 2013, I conducted an experiment at the Chelsea Flower Show. Using facial recognition cameras, I monitored visitor’s facial expressions when shown images of various plants.

Over 30,000 people gave it a go, and the cameras tracked eye movement, expression and engagement to identify the plants that received the most attention.

positive power of plants

The following three plants were crowned the champions. And they could be the three plants that are most likely to put a smile on your face too! Why not try planting one of them in your garden and tapping into the positive power of plants.

Lily of the Valley

The nation’s number one happy plant is…. Lily of the Valley. Which ironically is extremely poisonous when consumed. So take care when growing it if you have small children.

Why did people like this plant so much? One of the reasons people responded to this plant was the positive memories it evoked. Walking in the woods and seeing sprigs of the plant growing wild.

With their creamy white bell-shaped flowers that nod in the wind, they will make a charming addition to any garden. Plant them in your borders or perhaps underneath a tree. Extremely easy to grow, you can plant them by seed in containers and then move them to a shady location with moist soil.


They are very low maintenance. Making good ground cover for shady spots, as they will spread up to half a metre. So for a nostalgic nodding plant guaranteed to make you smile, chose Lily of the Valley for your next garden addition.

Sweet Pea


Coming in at second place is the Sweet Pea. What made it made special? It was its ability to generate childhood memories. Gardening with loved ones and grandparents.

Sweet Peas come in a huge variety of bright and pastel colours, with a frilly, delicate and often sweetly fragrant flower head.

They work well in a sunny or partially shaded area in fertile well-drained soil.

Make sure you deadhead them regularly, and they also benefit from regular fertilising


In third place was the fragrant climbing plant Jasmine. Triggering memories of happy holidays abroad for a lot of people.

There are several varieties. Some that flower in summer and others that are winter flowering. All varieties produce pretty flowers and are fairly easy to grow in UK gardens.

A summer flowering jasmine will do well against a sunny, sheltered wall or trellis. A winter flowering jasmine is tolerant of partial shade and are more frost hardy. So use this type for a south east or northwest aspect.

happy plant gardening

So, there you have it. The nation’s three favourite happy plants that will put a smile on your face.

These three came out on top during our experiment thanks to the their ability to generate happy memories for the person looking at them, rather than some particular physical attribute.

Why not try to think of the plants you associate with your happiest memories, and then dot them around your garden?

This will help to promote positive feelings when you’re out and about in your garden, or even when you glance outside from the kitchen window.


Don’t forget to let me know in the comments, or via social media, which your favourite happy plants are!

For more garden planting ideas, check out my blog:

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