Lohr - What are the benefits of plants indoors and why do we respond positively to them?

Virginia I. Lohr
Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Washington State University (USA)

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Key words: foliage plants, human issues in horticulture, human well-being, interior plants, people-plant interaction, response to nature.

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Abstract

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Plants are essential for our survival. They provide food, fiber, building material, fuel, and pharmaceuticals. Plants also produce intangible benefits for people, such as improving our health. These benefits occur with plants outdoors and indoors. People have been bringing plants into their homes for thousands of years. We increasingly work indoors, and we are making ample use of plants in these spaces as well. Plants indoors have many benefits. Physically, they contribute to cleaner, healthier air for us to breathe, thus improving our well-being and comfort. They make our surroundings more pleasant, and they make us feel calmer. Interior plants have been associated with reduced stress, increased pain tolerance, and improved productivity in people. Research studies documenting some of the benefits associated with interior plants are discussed. Of increasing interest to many people is the question of why plants have intangible positive effects on us. If we understand this, then we can make better recommendations regarding the use of plants indoors and out to enhance their effects of people. Studies indicate that people have learned and innate responses to plants. Some of these responses appear to have genetic components. Specific studies are summarized, and potential applications of the results of these studies are presented.

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Lohr review 1-2011.pdf