IKEA "Bullied" a Houseplant in a Bizarre Experiment—See What It Looks Like Now

Updated 05/09/18
Houseplants and Happiness

While IKEA spends most of its time creating affordable home décor and organization products, the Swedish furniture company recently put one of its popular houseplants in the spotlight as part of a social experiment, and people are taking note. In a bid to demonstrate the power of positive reinforcement, IKEA conducted an experiment using two plants from one of its stores, Adweek reports. Despite being kept in identical environments, one plant wilted while the other stayed green and vibrant over the course of one month.

The difference? Positive affirmations.

IKEA partnered with agency Memac Ogilvy Dubai to show the effects of bullying on plants. It brought its experiment to local school GEMS Wellington Academy in Dubai so students could witness the results in person and even take part in the experiment. "The live experiment involved Ikea taking two of its very own plants and installing them at the school. Both plants were treated strictly the same," according to a press release. "The only difference being one plant heard compliments and words of encouragement, while the other was verbally bullied with hateful words, for one month."

The plants were provided the same amount of sunlight and water, but one plant was played recordings that included positive phrases like, "Seeing you blossom makes me happy," and the other heard negative words like, "You look rotten." After 30 days, the plant that listened to positive affirmations remained green and lively, but the plant that was "bullied" turned brown and began to rot.

While some doubt the science behind this experiment, it offers a look at the power that words can have on living things. "It was so successful in driving awareness and reducing bullying amongst these children that more schools in the UAE have approached us to conduct the experiment at their locations," says managing director of IKEA UAE Vinod Jayan.

Some would like more evidence of how much positivity can really impact a plant, but the children who witnessed the experiment were clearly touched by it. "If it can affect a plant, it can definitely affect other people," one student says. Take a look at the case study video below to see what really happened during the month-long experiment.

Shop Houseplants From IKEA

IKEA Dom Plant $20
IKEA Watering Can $10
IKEA Fiddle-Leaf Fig $20
IKEA Plant Stand $30
IKEA Urn Plant $15

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