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Plants tied To our health and wellness

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator

The second trend I'm covering from the 2016 Garden Media Group garden trend report is Welltality, which is all about how horticulture is intrinsically tied to health and wellness.

I've written many times about the psychological benefits of plants. Because of their simplicity, plants and natural scenes reduce physical and mental excitement and improve our health. They help us heal faster, concentrate better, and reduce stress. Overall, being around plants simply makes us happier.

More than that, we cannot live without plants. Plants cleanse our air, provide the oxygen we breathe, and are the source of all the food we eat. They provide us with medicine, cosmetics, cleansers, and so much more.

But plants are not the ultimate utopia. As with most things, plants also have a negative side. Although I rarely talk about the bad side of plants, it is important to understand which plants can negatively impact our health and wellness.

To help folks better understand the bad side of plants, I created a new program all about Naughty, Nasty, and Simply Annoying Plants. Nasty plants can be found everywhere, including indoors. Whether they sting, poke, irritate skin, or have other poisonous tendencies, some plants need special care when handling. This program teaches us how to use and live among these plants safely. Plants covered include poison ivy, nettles, snakeroot, and more.

I am offering this program as part of this spring's Four Seasons webinar series. The program will be on March 22 at 1:30 p.m. and repeated on March 24 at 6:30 p.m. Three viewing options are available.

  1. All sessions are available for home viewing.
  2. Tuesday's 1:30 pm session will be shown in the Peoria and Havana Extension offices.
  3. Recorded videos of these sessions can be viewed following the program on YouTube.

For more information or to preregister, go to

This program is not meant to scare people away from plants and nature. Quite the opposite is true. I think that we all benefit from spending more time with plants, whether indoors or out.

A 2010 study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that just five minutes outside is all it takes get the mood-boosting effect that plants and nature provide. My goal is to be sure that a walk outside boosts your spirits without leaving you itching for weeks from a poison ivy rash.



As horticulture educator, Rhonda Ferree inspired citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. She focused on high quality, impactful programs that taught homeowners how to create energy-efficient landscapes using sustainable practices that increase property values and help the environment.

After 30 years with University of Illinois Extension, Rhonda retired in 2018. She continues to share her passion for horticulture related topics as “Retro Rhonda” on social media.

ILRiverHort is a blog that helps people connect to nature and grow.