The Science Behind Our Innate Connection With Plants

Robyn Foyster Robyn Foyster has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 28 December 2020

Sustainability expert Dr. Dominique Hes, Principal Researcher at not-for-profit Beyond Zero Emissions and Lead Researcher at Plant Life Balance, talks about the science behind our connection with plants.

We humans have an innate affinity with nature, known as biophilia, meaning our brains evolved in nature so when we’re surrounded by nature, the fight or flight and emotional parts of the brain are less on edge. If these bits are less stressed, the rest of our brain is free to work better.

Dr.Dominique Hes
Dr.Dominique Hes

That is this unconscious ability to see, hear, and connect with plants around us means those base level bits of the brain begin to relax and more energy can go into the higher levels of the mind such as motivation, creativity, problem solving, and so forth. If we could compare it to something, it’s truly like the difference between a good night’s sleep and a poor night’s sleep, on how well you function. 

Studies have shown that simply seeing plants or being surrounded by them can boost your mood and improve our ability to deal with stress, which has increased for most of us during this uncertain time. It’s a bit like how meditation helps you deal with stress.

elderly care, billy

With this self-isolation, inside spaces, balconies, courtyards and backyards have become more important places than ever as we look to bring nature from outside, to in.

If you live in an apartment you don’t need to miss out! When it comes to improving wellbeing, five or more medium-sized plants in a medium-sized room is the magic threshold that leads to people feeling healthier and happier. These five or more plants need to be of different types, leaf size, and colours. The trick is the diversity you have.

If you’re just getting started I’d suggest a low maintenance plant such as a glossy peace lily, a trailing devil’s ivy, or a sturdy rubber tree – or if you’re curious how your current space stacks up, you can immediately tally up your benefits using the free Plant Life Balance app.


Many of us are experiencing increased stress levels right now and being amongst nature enables you to be best able to deal with that stress. Tending to your indoor plants, as well as other activities like repotting or planting seeds, are mindful exercises that draw our attention into the moment and encourage optimism through planning something that will grow into the future. So if you’re looking for something to do, get your hands a little dirty and reap the many benefits a little green can bring.

nature woman

Women Love Tech would like to thank Dr. Dominique Hes for her article.


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