Playing Music to Your Plants Can Be Beneficial
Music has an incredible effect on us; it’s enjoyable, relaxing, inspiring and moving. It’s also an art with too many benefits to list here. In short, one can say it is therapeutic for the mind, spirit and soul. It has the ability to transport us to another place, elevate our senses and alter our mood for the better. But did you know it also has a pretty mind-blowing effect on our little green friends too? As it happens, plants are very smart and responsive to external clues, which is why they also love music.
Plants Are Sentient Beings
You may have heard that talking to your plants is a good thing. In fact, gardeners’ talking to plants is quite common, much like people talking to their pets. As strange as that sounds (unless you practice this already), plants are sentient beings that respond to our voices. In fact, in an insightful interview for the Scientific American, Daniel Chamovitz, the renowned biologist and author of the book ‘What a Plant Knows’, said the following:
“People have to realize that plants are complex organisms that live rich, sensual lives. You know many of us relate to plants as inanimate objects, not much different from stones. But if we realize that all of plant biology arises from the evolutionary constriction of the ‘rootedness’ that keep plants immobile, then we can start to appreciate the very sophisticated biology going on in leaves and flowers. Just because we don’t see plants moving it doesn’t mean that there’s not a very rich and dynamic world going on inside the plant.” (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-plants-think-daniel-chamovitz)
It is clear that plants interact with their environment, and as Chamovitz and many other biologists know, there’s a lot more happening under the surface of plants than we realize. Like animals, plants are able to process the sensory data they gather and respond accordingly. For example, sunflowers are known to face the direction of the sun (hence their name) when they require it, and flowering plants use a number of methods, such as producing sweet smelling fragrances and sugary nectar, to entice pollinators like bugs, birds and mammals.
Plants Do Have An ‘Ear’ For Music
Many scientists and researchers have been studying the effects of music on plant growth, and one thing they all agree on is that plants ‘hear’ music in their own unique way. What this actually means is that plants sense the vibrations emitted by music and react to it. The sound waves of music travel through the air and are received by the protoplasm of the plant. There have been numerous experiments conducted around the world showing that plants grow better with a certain type of music. In other words, certain vibrations that are associated with a type of music stimulate the plants more positively than other kinds of music vibrations.
Dorothy Retallack at the Colorado Women’s College in Denver conducted one of the most famous of these studies in 1973. Her series of studies culminated in her book, ‘The Sounds of Music and Plants.’ In her experiments, she exposed plants to a variety of auditory experiences and concluded that plants respond better to easy listening music, such as classical and soft jazz. Flowers exposed to easy listening music would even go as far as bending their heads towards the speakers. On the other hand, those exposed to rock and heavy metal music leant away from the source of the music and died prematurely. She noted that they did not react to country music at all. She also claimed that her plants appreciated string instruments more than percussions and were particularly drawn to the sitar.
Picture credit: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160118-can-your-plants-really-hear-you-if-you-sing-to-them
Dr. T. C. Singh who was head of the Botany Department at India’s Annamalia University did another acclaimed study on the positive effects of music on plants. His first experiment showed that balsam plants grew 20% more in height and 72% more in biomass when exposed to classical music. He later did another experiment with field crops and played raga music this time using a gramophone and loudspeakers to reach the entire field. He found that the size of those crops increased from the regional average in the range of 25% to 60%.
Serenading Grapes For Better Wine
So far this sounds pretty cool, right? But these findings are not limited to experiments conducted solely by scientists. Some winegrowers even swear by the benefits of playing music for improved yields. One of them is Giancarlo Cignozzi, a former lawyer turned winemaker, who owns an estate in the Italian town of Montalcino. His very high quality Brunello di Montalcino wines come from a vineyard that gets serenaded everyday and all day by classical music, such as Mozart and Wagner. When he first started playing the music he found that the grapes closer to the loudspeakers were more robust and had higher sugar content than the rest of the grapes situated further away. Furthermore, since he began playing the music to his grapes, the number of insect attacks was dramatically reduced.
Soon word got around about Giancarlo’s remarkable grapes, and Stefano Mancuso, a plant neurobiologist from the University of Florence, decided to study them. He found that:
“It is not that the grapes are capable of understanding the music and appreciating Mozart, but they are capable of appreciating the sound vibrations and the frequencies. The vines are affected by low frequencies between 100 and 400 Hz. The results are somewhat impressive with regard to the quality of the grapes. The most fundamental result is that the number of pathogenic attacks from insects have declined in a significant way.”
Giancarlo and experts both believe music confuses the harmful bugs and makes them leave. The music also scares away birds and other creatures that feed on grapes. As a result Giancarlo uses no pesticides and very little fertilizer on his grapes. How incredible is that?
Another winemaker who applies this method is Hylton Appelbaum in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Hylton serenades his vineyard with baroque and early classical music around the clock using regularly spaced powerful outdoor speakers. Hylton and his business partner, Carl van der Merwe, soon noticed regulated growth patterns and a later budding date in the blocks directly exposed to the music. In fact, they claim that those particular grapes ripen two and a half weeks later and produce wine at lower alcohol levels (12.8% versus 14%).
Well, what do you think? While many experts are reluctant to claim that music directly improves plant growth, this phenomenon remains a popular topic that the scientific community continues to investigate. If you feel inspired by these various case studies we just mentioned, why don’t you simply try it at home? Perhaps, you will find favorable results when you play music to your plants for a period of time. If you try it tell us what you find out, as we would love to know. And if anything, playing music will most certainly uplift your mood and that is always a good thing!
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