School children aged 11-13 years old from 28 schools took part in the study in South Korea.
More than 500 students participated in seven sessions once a week, each lasting for an hour and questionnaires were used by researchers to gauge responses.
Pupils took part in a variety of activities including learning about the role of soil and plant structure, cutting herbs, planting flowers and succulents.
Emotional intelligence was probed in a questionnaire with 47 questions, while the effects of the project on resilience were investigated with a five-point Likert scale of 36 questions.
Plant-handling activities allow children the opportunity to develop emotionally by increasing peer–peer understanding and collaborationReport authors
Analysing the data, researchers from Seoul’s Konkuk University found the sessions improved the emotional intelligence and resilience of the children significantly.
‘Plant-handling activities allow children the opportunity to develop emotionally by increasing peer–peer understanding and collaboration,’ note the researchers’ report on ScienceDirect.
Practical activities such as planting and herb cutting, were most popular, and 70 per cent of the students said they would like the project to continue.
The researchers conclude: ‘The results of our study have shown that the horticultural therapy program may be effective in improving psychological stability and social-emotional competence in terms of emotional intelligence, resilience, and self-efficacy in elementary school children.’
Read the full report here.