The focus of this document is caring for potted plants used in recreational and horticultural activities in an eldercare facility, large or small. The author’s experience was in large skilled nursing facilities, but these same principles will work in other situations. The reader can adapt the tips given here to programs in other settings with different client populations. This manual would also be useful for the in-home caregiver and the indoor plant hobbyist. For those subjects where my experience is limited, I provide a list of helpful books. References to websites and videos are limited since those resources change so often.
Horticultural activities can foster a sense of accomplishment, connectedness, and inner peace. Consider the thoughts in the following quotation:
“Some individuals may only experience one level of responsibility within a program while others may experience several levels. This may influence results, in terms of meeting the goals of a specific activity; for example someone working in the greenhouse making a dried-flower picture from flowers they helped grow, harvest, and dry may respond differently to the activity as compared with someone working in a windowless hospital room with flowers purchased and donated by a stranger.”
Jack Kittredge, “A History of Farming as Therapy,” the Natural Farmer, Fall 2014, Page B-4.
Exploring plants with program participants can be a terrific adventure. Included in this manual are plants with fragrance, color, interesting shapes and sizes, and novelty interest. There are educational and recreational opportunities galore. You can grow a cycad to talk about dinosaurs or give someone a lucky bamboo for their bedside table.
“But,” you say, “how can I keep all those plants alive?” Keep this manual handy, do some research whenever you can, check with local garden clubs and garden centers, and keep learning.
The sky’s the limit!