Music has a profound effect on the human mind. Certain songs can make you start welling in the eyes, while others can give you that push to hit a new personal record at the gym. But the sound waves generated by music don't just affect humans.
Music—and sound in general—appears to create profound changes in certain species of plants—from increasing yields to boosting immunity. Does this mean you should start blaring Mozart in your cannabis garden? Or perhaps your herb patch would prefer the soothing tones of Bob Marley?
CAN PLANTS HEAR?
You've probably noticed that your cannabis plants don't have ears. However, this easy observation doesn't rule out the fact that sound can still influence them on a biological level. Humans are able to detect sound thanks to specialised cells—mechanoreceptors—in the ear.
Put simply, the sound is the vibration of molecules through a certain medium, be that solid, liquid, or gas. These vibrations travel through a medium by compressing molecules in the air. When these waves hit the human ear, mechanoreceptors respond to the change in pressure and send signals to the brain.
How plants "hear" music and sound remain unknown. However, a likely theory suggests that plant mechanoreceptors sense the change in pressure as sound waves bash into them and rush past them.
WHY DO PLANTS NEED TO HEAR?
This ability to detect sound allows plants to experience the outside world and act accordingly when trouble arrives. Far from inert green masses that blow in the wind, plants are incredibly aware of their surroundings.
The sound of a caterpillar munching on a plant's leaves will cause specimens to ramp up the production of defensive chemicals designed to deter attackers. What's more, plants can differentiate between acoustic energy that signifies a threat and sounds from non-threatening sources.
Research published in the journal Plant-microbe-animal Interactions demonstrates how plants boost the production of glucosinolate and anthocyanin after being exposed to the vibration of a munching caterpillar.
Sound waves not only influence plants to bolster their defenses; acoustic energy also affects plant growth and germination. Experiments have shown a massive difference in tomatoes subject to specific tunes; those exposed grew to be twice the size of the control group. Researchers even found certain tunes to inhibit viruses in tomato plants.
How Does Music Affect Plants?
Researchers have been studying the effect of music on plants for decades. Dr. T. C. Singh conducted a few experiments in 1962 in which he discovered that balsam plants grew 20 percent taller and had increased biomass of 60 to 70 percent when compared to control plants that experienced silence.
Singh also noted that seeds grown in musical environments had an increased vitality rate and produced stronger characteristics, such as improved leaf production and bigger leaves. Newer research has confirmed these findings.
Interestingly, different genres of music seem to affect plant growth differently.
Singh suggested through his research that violin music produced the most favorable results. In 1973, Professor Dorothy Retallack conducted her own experiment where she divided plants into three groups. One group of plants heard an F-note for eight solid hours. A similar note was played for the second group, and the third (control) group was left in silence. The first group died within two weeks, the second group thrived, while the third showed no major changes.
Next, she went on to test the differences in response to rock and classical music. She once again split her plants into three groups and played either rock music, classical music, or nothing. She found that plants who were exposed to rock music actively tried to “escape” the sound by turning their growth away from the speakers or “climbing” the walls of the enclosure. She also noticed signs of stress in the rock-and-roll plants resembling excessive water intake.
It’s important to note that it’s not necessarily the genre that affects plant growth but rather the rhythm and harmony of the sound. Plants that are exposed to calming music like classical tend to fare better than those exposed to heavy metal - perhaps due to the way plants have evolved and adapted to their environments.
Music and Plant Growth
Of course, plants react to their external environments – hot conditions encourage plant leaves to curl up to retain cool for example, and pest infestations encourage the release of terpenes to protect the plant from damage. Likewise, plants react to vibrations in the air and ground which helps protect themselves from hungry caterpillars or to slow their growth in windy areas that might snap their branches, for example.
The same goes for sound, which is composed of vibrations. Whether it’s music, the hum of a busy highway, or the sound of approaching predators, plants have learned to pick up vibrations and react according to these vibratory cues. Therefore, plants that react adversely to aggressive rock music are likely to do so because their evolutionary makeup has taught them that these lower-frequency sound waves pose a threat. Industrial equipment like vehicles and clothes dryers also produce low-frequency sound waves.
Higher frequency sound waves, on the other hand, such as those produced in classical music, may have the opposite effect, signaling to the plant that conditions are optimum for growth and development. Researchers theorize the reason for this is because the frequency encourages stomata, the little pours in plant surfaces, to open up, allowing for greater nutrient intake while helping accommodate increased transpiration.
Often asked Questions
Music has a way of moving us. Across cultures – and species – organisms react to music in ways that may reduce stress, improve health, and increase growth. It’s no surprise, then, that music would have the same effects on plants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Music Promote Plant Growth?
Unfortunately, we can’t ask the plants personally. But there is some evidence that plants respond positively to some Hz vibrations.
Does Talking to Cannabis Plants Help Them Grow?
A very small study from the Royal Horticultural Society found that tomato plants that were regularly read to grow taller than those that were not.
Do Plants Like Beethoven?
It is thought that classical could be good music for plants. Beethoven: definitely classical.
Do Plants Like Reggae Music?
If a cannabis plant doesn’t like Bob Marley, is it still a cannabis plant? But seriously, there’s no way to know unless someone funds and conducts that experiment. For now, the firmest answer is maybe.
Why Do Plants Grow Better with Music?
The science on this topic is mixed at best and not that thorough, so the best guess is that plants may grow better with music at higher frequencies, such as classical music.