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.