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Plants Used as Positive Therapy in ‘Introduction to Horticulture Therapy’ Course

A Plant Sciences course taught by Dr. Alan Zuk teaches students how to use horticulture and gardening as a means of positive therapy for retirement and disabled people as well as teaching children about the joy of working with plants. Zuk teaches the class every spring.
Plants Used as Positive Therapy in ‘Introduction to Horticulture Therapy’ Course

PLSC 150 student Todd Christlieb helps a resident at Touchmark at Harwood Groves Retirement Center plant tulips.

NDSU Plant Sciences assistant professor Dr. Alan Zuk teaches Plant Sciences (PLSC) 150, Introduction to Horticulture Therapy, each year in the spring. The class has two lectures and one lab each week. Three of the lab activities involve trips to a local elementary school, a retirement community and an adult life program that serves mentally and physically disabled citizens in the F-M area, to teach horticulture and gardening. Zuk and his class help the individuals plant seeds and bulbs and transplant flower and vegetable seedlings to give residents and children a chance to learn about the healthy and restorative aspects of growing plants.

On March 27, Zuk and students Derek Benson, Patrick Restemayer and Todd Christlieb helped residents at Touchmark at Harwood Groves Retirement Center in Fargo, ND plant flowers to liven up their apartments. The tomatoes, flowers and herbs were started by the students last February in the NDSU greenhouses.  The class also will visit an elementary school and another care facility in Fargo.

Zuk said that planting flowers is a “more enjoyable activity to regain dexterity and fine motor skills than squeezing a tennis ball.”

Touchmark residents commented on how much they missed the gardening they had done over the years, enjoying getting dirty hands and smelling green plants after a long cold winter.

For more information on PLSC 150 or the NDSU Plant Sciences Horticulture program, visit  and

Source/Editor: Alan Zuk, 701-231-7540,
Author: Karen Hertsgaard, 701-231-5384,

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