Playing music to your plants: does it help them grow better?

Violin and flower

Will your hyacinths like Haydn? Or will they wilt to Walton? Here's the (surprising) science...

Your green-fingered friends might give you funny looks if you get out your violin to serenade your hydrangeas, but research suggests that sound, and in particular soothing textures and rhythms of classical music, can help to boost plant growth.

In 1962, Dr. T. C. Singh, head of the Botany Department at Annamalia University, experimented with the effect of classical musical sounds on the growth rate of plants. He found that balsam plants grew at a rate that accelerated by 20% in height and 72% in biomass when exposed to music.

Canadian engineer Eugene Canby exposed wheat to the Baroque sounds and lilting dance rhythms of J.S. Bach's violin sonata and observed a 66% increase in yield. 

Baroque or rock?

In the 1970s a group of university students played groups of plants different genres of music. Plants exposed to Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert grew towards and entwined themselves around the speakers. Another plant group grew away from a speaker that played rock music. In later studies, plants were played Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix -  abnormal vertical growth and smaller leaves and plants leaned away from the rock music source. Clearly, it's those violin solos, rather than guitar solos...

The science

Music and sound is transmitted in the form of sound waves - these cause minute vibrations, most obviously on your ear drums. Plants are composed of protoplasm, a translucent, moving and living matter that makes up all animals and plant cells. One theory is that the vibrations picked up by the plant (from your favourite concerto, perhaps) might speed up the protoplasmic movement in the cells and assist growth, making a stronger and better plant.

So next time you're in Wyevale Garden Centres picking up your favourite perennials, make sure you turn to Classic FM or your favourite opera, to get your plants blooming.

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