Around two-thirds of gardeners play music to their plants.
For many, being forced to stay at home during the pandemic led to a heightened appreciation of a slate of home-friendly hobbies like knitting, baking and home gardening. Although home gardening was already a trend long before COVID-19, statistics revealed that this trend had seen an increase in popularity over the last three years. For example, in 2021, the National Gardening Association conducted a study and found that the United States had 18.3 million new gardeners. And, perhaps among these new gardeners, many like playing music to their plants.
A survey was carried out by music licensing company PPL PRS where 1 000 gardeners were studied and results showed that 63 % of the sample said they played music to their plants. After some experts came forward with “evidences” showing that music could help plants to grow, many gardeners started playing music to their plants. However, this topic is still hotly debated in scientific circles. So, read on to find out more about the effect of music on plants.
Can Plants Hear?
Music can exert a powerful and positive influence on human beings because they can “hear” it. However, can plants hear?
Plants may not have ears, but some scientists believe that they have structural organs that allow them to detect and process sound waves. Monica Gagliano, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Western Australia, tested this theory by putting pea seedlings in pots shaped like an upside-down Y. While one arm of each pot had dry soil, the other arm was placed either in a coiled plastic tube through which water flowed or was placed directly in a tray of water. Whether the water was easily accessible or hidden through the tube, all the roots grew toward the arm with the fluid. “They just knew the water was there, even if the only thing to detect was the sound of it flowing inside the pipe,” Gagliano says.
Another study aimed at proving that plants can hear sound includes observations made on evening primroses (Oenothera Drummondii). The team found that as soon as the plants “hear” the buzz of passing bees, the concentration of sugar in the plants’ nectars is increased by an average of 20 % in an attempt to entice the flying insects.
Another study worth mentioning is how the Arabidopsis, a member of the cabbage family, is able to “distinguish” the difference between wind vibrations and caterpillar chewing sounds.
Can Plants Feel?
When we listen to music, sing and dance along and actively engage with the rhythm and melody, it heightens our positive emotions. We feel good, excited or happy. However, can plants feel the same?
While experts claim that plants cannot “feel” emotions as humans do, some say that since plants are alive, they can have “feelings” too.
We know that some plants have specialized organs to sense and respond to certain sensations. For example, according to Dr. Kim Johnson, some plants can even respond to physical stresses. However, there isn’t any concrete evidence yet to prove that plants can indeed “feel” emotions.
Studies Find Positive Effect of Music on Plants
Over the years, several studies have been carried out to prove that music has a positive effect on plants.
Dorothy Retallack’s Greenhouse Experiment
Dorothy Retallacks’ experiment was quite remarkable. She experimented with different plants and with different genres of music. After 2 weeks, she returned to the greenhouse only to find that several plants had physically leaned 15-20 degrees toward a radio playing classical and jazz music. The plants were flowering and growing healthily.
T.C Singh’s Experiments
In 1962, the experiment of T.C Singh proved that plants do indeed respond well to music. The head of the department of botany at Annamalai University experimented with Indian plants and music and his research found that the balsam plants grew at an increasing rate when exposed to music.