There’s a lot of research about the benefits of being able to see trees outside of your window while you work (e.g., Kaplan, 1993) or while you recover from surgery (e.g., Ulrich, 1984) but what about having a small plant on your desk?
Toyoda, Yokota, Barnes, and Kaneko (2019) conduced a research study in an office in Japan. The first round had no plants available and the second round compared the same individuals to themselves with a small plant, chosen by each individual, to care for and look at on their desk.
The results indicate that there was significant decrease in stress and anxiety in the plant condition regardless of age and type of plant. However, if the plant wasn’t doing well, it caused concern and a potential negative response. In this study however, this was mitigated by replacing the unhealthy plants quickly.
It should be noted that participants were instructed to take a three minute break when they were fatigued and look at their monitor during the first round and the plant during the second round. This means that they were instructed to engage with the plant passively at least which may impact results.