September 25,2020

Does Playing Music Affect Plant Growth?

When researching plant care online, have you ever come across the claim that plants thrive better when exposed to music? It’s a commonly held theory, but it certainly seems like a stretch when it comes to one’s average perception of the world. Keep reading to learn more about just where this idea came from and whether or not you should start looking for a new record player for your houseplants!

 

Most people in the know agree that this theory germinated in the 1970s, the peak of “expanded” thinking. The first published work that discusses this theory is The Secret Life of Plants, a 1973 book written by Christopher Bird and Peter Tompkins to analyze the “physical, emotional, and spiritual relations between plants and man.” Check out our blog on why having indoor plants can improve your mood to learn more about the relationship between plants and man!

 

Evidence for Music Influencing Plant Growth

 

This book cites a 1962 study by Annamalai University Head of Botany Dr. T.C. Singh, where he found that balsam plants exposed to different types of music had an increased biomass yield of 25% to 70%! The Annamalai University study used multiple kinds of music, including classical, Indian raga music, and various solo instruments. This success was even shown again in other studies: Canadian engineer Eugene Canby played Bach’s violin sonata to a wheat field and saw a 66% increase in yield.

 

We all have our preferences of what kind of music we like to listen to, but do plants have the same tastes? Colorado Women’s College researcher Dorothy Retallack experimented with playing classical, jazz, and rock music to plants and found that the plants tended to grow towards the speaker when it played classical and jazz. When they “listened” to rock music, the plants seemed to grow slower and even grew away from the speaker!

 

Why Does Music Affect Plant Growth?

 

It’s easy to document what happens when you play music to a growing plant, but it’s much harder to figure out why the music causes a change. Some of those original researchers believed that plants had a kind of ESP or extrasensory perception. Still, nowadays most scientists believe that the plants are responding to the vibrations caused by the soundwaves. It’s thought that these vibrations may stimulate the plant’s natural nutrient transfer processes in the same way bird songs or wind might do in nature.

Playing music for your plants is unlikely to cause any harm, so if you’re interested in trying this with your plants, we would love to hear about your experiments in the PlantX Forum!