Should You Sing to Your Plants? Here's What the Science Says
Can plants enjoy music just as we do? And can listening to music help them develop? If so, maybe we're not so different as we seem. The possible correlation between exposure to music and the growth rate of plants is fascinating, and may perhaps allow for a new and deeper understanding about the living creatures surrounding us in our homes.
Music and plant growth has been a topic in the scientific community for quite some time. At Pistils, we found ourselves curious to find out what these studies show and what the people conducting them are saying about how music affects plants. As we started digging in to the research, we found that experiments involving music and plant growth in agriculture as well as in greenhouses have been conducted and seem to show that playing music actually promotes the growth of plants!
But it's not quite so simple, and there's still a bit of controversy around these findings. Here's a bit of what the studies say, simplified, and why some may disagree.
Music and Plant Growth
Unlike us humans, plants don’t have ears with which to hear sound. So how are they influenced by music? It’s not exactly that they are tapping their roots to the beat of a drum. Rather, sound waves stimulate the plant's cells. When the cells are stimulated by the sound, nutrients are encouraged to move throughout the plant body, promoting new growth and strengthening their immune systems.
Believe it or not, studies indicate that plants also seem have a specific taste in music! Some genres of music promote growth, whereas others can be damaging. Roses in particular seem to love violin music. For most plants playing classical or jazz music caused growth to increase, while harsher metal music induced stress. This may be because the vibrations of metal music are too intense for plants and stimulate cells a little too much.
We think of this like massaging your plant with a song – they prefer a gentler touch.
What Botanists Have to Say
Devendra Vanol of the Institute of Integrated Study and Research in Biotechnology and Allied Sciences in India found that not only does music promote plant growth, but it seems that plants can actually distinguish between different types of sound including different genres of music, nature sounds, and traffic noise. Vanol and her team say it could be advantageous for plants to distinguish sounds to learn about their surrounding environment. More studies need to be done to understand how this works and what this could teach us about plants.
According to Reda Hassanien of China Agricultural University in Beijing, sound waves significantly increased the yield of sweet pepper, cucumber, tomato, spinach, cotton, rice, and wheat. Additionally, pests such as spider mites, aphids, gray mold, late blight, and virus diseases of tomatoes decreased in greenhouse conditions with sound treatment. It is amazing what plants can do with a little bit of music playing in the greenhouse!
How can we use this new information? “The world population increase presents a challenge to scientists and researchers to investigate the possibilities for utilizing new and green technologies to increase the production of food," says Hassenien." Using sound waves technology can enhance the plant immune system thereby; avoiding many problems associated with the environmental pollution and the economic costs of chemical fertilizers and herbicide” (Hassanien 2014).
What if we could use music to promote plant growth instead of chemicals? Playing music for our agricultural crops could be the soothing sound of positive change in our food system.
Others believe that more research needs to be done in order to agree to establish a connection between music and plant growth. They say that plants in these studies are given special treatment, and further experiments need to be repeated with stricter control over growing conditions such as light, soil, and water.
Whether or not music promotes plant growth, we think that it couldn't hurt to play them a little jazz now and again, and some scientists and farmers around the world say it just might help them grow a little faster. So why not try putting on a soothing record the next time you water your plants?
We may not know for certain if music effects plant growth but one thing that is for sure is that treating your plants like the amazing living creatures that they are can help our green friends to be happier and healthier. Build a relationship with your house plants by talking to them with words of encouragement, give them a name, play them a song, love them and they will grow.
For the plant nerds among us that would like to dig deeper into the studies surrounding music and plant growth here are some free articles we recommend taking a peek at:
By: Brittany Oxford