Flowers are often the best gift to make someone smile. With so many species varying in size, color, scent, and bloom period, there is a flower for every occasion. Not only are flowers a great gift, they have been scientifically proven to improve a person’s mood.

In a study conducted on 147 women, the women took part in a phone questionnaire to assess both the interviewees’ mood and overall life satisfaction. Post interview, experimenters brought gifts to the participants’ homes.

One third of the women received a fruit hamper, one third a candle, and the remaining third received a bouquet of flowers. The gifts in question boasted the same visual appeal and monetary value, and upon delivering the gifts each reaction was recorded.

The smiles of those who received a bouquet of flowers were significantly more authentic than that of those who received a candle or fresh fruit hamper. Three days later, the women were once again interviewed, and only those who received flowers scored significantly higher on the mood questionnaire than they had in the initial interview.

Scientists have also discovered that nature (particularly natural habitats home to an abundance of floral species) improves emotional health.

Results suggest that those who enjoy the great outdoors and the presence of flowers on a regular basis boast increased feelings of happiness and a greater life satisfaction.

Jeannette Haviland-Jones, professor of psychology at Rutgers and lead researcher of a study on the subject, said, “What’s most exciting about this study is that it challenges established scientific beliefs about how people can manage their day-to-day moods in a healthy and natural way.”

The results of this 10-month study revealed flowers to be a completely natural mood enhancer and moderator. Those involved in this research came to the conclusion that flowers have an instant impact on happiness – regardless of whether we view them in nature or receive them as a gift. Participants who took part in this study not only felt less agitated, anxious, and depressed, but they revealed an increased life satisfaction too.

So which flowers make us the happiest?

Although research suggests that almost all flower species have a positive effect on our well-being, there are a number of species that outscore others.

• Daisies: Their bright hues add instant cheer to the home, and also to those in it. Whether planted in a pot or in the garden, they offer a warming, lighthearted appeal.

• Lilies: From Easter lilies to tiger lilies, there are a number of species to choose from. Their large, vibrant blooms are both mesmerizing and fragrant – meaning they uplift the senses in more than one way.

• Tulips: Said to be one of the most inspiring blooms available, tulips certainly pack a punch – despite their short season. They’re both feminine and fragrant, adding a splash of color and brightness to any environment.

• Gladioli: This particular species is only available in the late summer. It’s as dramatic as it is alluring and is therefore often described as one of the most romantic blooms in existence. Whether you place them in a vase in the home, or plant them in your garden, they’re guaranteed to inspire happiness each and every day.

• Roses: Gifting a loved one with a bunch of roses is a guaranteed mood-heightener. Growing a rose tree in the garden is a great way to prolong this feeling. They are available in a variety of shapes, styles, and hues and each variety boasts a different meaning. Pink suggests feelings of love, while yellow means friendship, white is for remembrance, and red for romance.

• Daffodils: These bright blooms have been named the number one flower for enhancing people’s moods. Yellow is a color that is often associated with happiness, so it comes as little surprise that a vase brimming with beautiful daffodils will instantly perk up your day! Alternatively, plant them in your garden and enjoy their bright hue each and every spring.

• Hydrangeas: These species are another romantic option perfect for many occasions, including weddings. They’re available in a variety of shades, comprising stunning blues, pinks, whites, and purples. They also have extremely calming properties, which makes them a great addition to the home – especially for those that lead a fast-paced lifestyle.

Sometimes the smallest things in life are those that make us the happiest. Flowers are a great addition to the home and garden, and a great gift to give all year ‘round – especially if you’re looking for ways to promote happiness. If you’re thinking of offering some as a gift, give careful consideration to the great range of colors and types before deciding on the best ones to fill any space.

Bridget Kackos is an intern at Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County.