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  • Zoe Lim

How Do Plants React to Music?

Plants can react and respond to light, scent, touch, wind and even gravity, but what about sound? Can plants respond to audio cues? There have been studies showing that plants do in fact, 'hear' certain audio in order to thrive and survive in their environment. If you are an avid gardener, or you simply love taking care of these little green beings, then read on to see what science has to say in this matter!

The Secret Life of Plants

The Secret Life of Plants is a study on how music can affect plant growth. It was published in 1973 and written by Christopher Bird and Peter Tompkins. The experimentation discovered certain unusual phenomena regarding plants such as plant sentience, which sparked controversies, but nonetheless, rather interesting findings and philosophical discussions.

One of the experiments conducted was with music and dance on the behavior and production in plants. In 1950, Dr. T.C. Singh played music via loudspeaker to six varieties of rice growing in different villages and found that he was able to get harvests 25 - 60% higher than the regional average. Another research conducted was a Canadian engineer and farmer, who broadcasted Bach's classical music to a test plot of wheat and got a harvest 66% higher than the average with heavier seeds. Since the wheat was growing on an inferior soil, he concluded that the music was as good as nutrients.

From the above series of experiments, it appears that plants do indeed respond to music, voice and audio cues positively. So, how exactly do plants 'hear'? It was discovered that sound waves travel through air, which cause vibrations. Classical music seems to affect plants positively while violent music vibrations, such as rock, damages the plants’ protoplasm, a colorless liquid within a cell where the nucleus is suspended. Vibrations will affect the protoplasm and the more violent the vibration, the more stress the plant feels, and therefore, mitigate plant growth.

Therefore, the next time you find yourself growing some plants, remember to broadcast some Bach or Beethoven sonatas to keep your plants happy!

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