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Plants and Music (Greenhouse Rock)

Plants and Music (Greenhouse Rock)

Have you ever heard the adage concerned with plants and music? You know, the idea that playing music for a plant can help it grow. For me, this idea brings about the memory of tri-fold poster boards filling a school gymnasium and the unmistakable sound of children trying to talk over one another. I’m talking, of course, about science fairs where our aforementioned query has been pondered by young minds for generations. But, it is not just the youth that are perplexed by this idea, yes, it seems this has been the subject of a number of scientific experiments over the years. It is a pretty valid question, in my opinion, at least. I mean, who doesn’t want plants to grow faster and more efficiently? It’s the American way! But, the one initial question sparks a whole lot more. For example, what kind of music is best for plants? Or, how do I know what volume to play it at? But before you go off wondering whether or not your hydrangeas like the same tunes as your strawberries or if your orchids like to fall asleep to Beethoven, let’s explore the basics behind this claim. Do we know what the basis is for this claim? Plants don’t even have ears and we’re expected to believe they can hear the music we play for them let alone the genre? Alright, enough with the hypothetical questions. It is a pretty interesting topic that sparks a lot of thought, but there is something to be said about researching and understanding something prior to following through on information. With that in mind, let’s dive on in.

For starters, does playing music actually help your plants grow? In simple terms, no probably not. There really isn’t any solid scientific evidence that growing plants with music will stimulate any sort of response, positive or negative. So sadly, you can’t tell your significant other that playing their music is killing the house plants just because you don’t care for it. Bummer, right? So why, then, is there so much out there on the subject? So many people have spent so much time exploring this subject, you’d think there would be some reason for it. It can’t just be due to human boredom. Well, for the most part is it. As we have progressed as a society, human beings have given themselves more and more down time. In response, individuals have picked up hobbies to fill in this down time to keep boredom at bay. Many different activities sprung up and as a result, people who were already into plants, got even more into plants. As a result, people began experimenting on how they can better grow their plants. As more and more people began to experiment with plants, fewer original experiments were left to carry out. When this happened people had to start getting creative. Trying different fertilizers to increase plant production had been done before, but people still wanted new ways to stimulate growth. So, why not try music? Personally, I work a lot better when I’m listening to certain music. Some music is too slow and doesn’t inspire me to work while some is too aggressive for the work being done. I’m assuming the first person running music based experiments on plants had a very similar thought process while before performing their tasks as early experiments were along the lines of “Rock versus Classical”.

Of course, the answer to the “Rock versus Classical” debate was classical. There was a woman in Colorado who decided to play rock music in one room of her greenhouse and classical in the other room and found that the plants not only thrived in the classical room but also grew towards the speaker. The plants in the rock room were said to grow away from the speaker and wither. In the 60’s an Indian Doctor at the Annamalia University experimented with classical and raga. The findings from this study suggested that the violin had the greatest positive impact on plant growth. However, as this study developed, the use of musical vibrations and sound waves as opposed to just music in general. This, while showing some interesting developments, strays from the original idea of music’s impact on plant growth. The vibrations caused by the playing of loud music and the sound waves sent out amongst the plants in incubation were thought to have an impact as they mimicked natural sounds and vibrations. Overall, the research put into the hypothesis that certain types of music can help plants grow better proved to be less than scientifically verifiable. In most cases there’s far too many outside variables playing roles in the growth of plants that identifying one single factor that can be given credit. All that said, that doesn’t mean countless hours of work haven’t been put into this largely unfounded premise.

For example, have you ever heard of Mother Earth’s Plantasia? Well if you haven’t, it’s an album self-released by Mort Garson in 1976 comprised of 10 tracks. All of which, are intended for your plants. Painstakingly made using a Moog synthesizer, Garson created a full length, 40 minute, vinyl record that was to be played for your house plants. The album itself is really not that bad. A bit obscure and overly lucid for some, Plantasia is a fun record many people keep in their collections if for nothing less than the story behind it. The album was so specified for plants song titles went as such, “Symphony for a Spider Plant” and “A Mellow Mood for Maidenhair” among others. True to the idea of being music for plants and those that love them, the record was originally released with a pamphlet on indoor plant care. Though it was released over 30 years ago (sorry for the reminder), it remains alone as the sole album created and disturbed solely intended for plants. There are songs made here and there that people claim are for your plants, but you’d be hard pressed to find a disc specifically made for plants other than Plantasia next time you’re thumbing through the crates.

Perhaps you’ve already retrofit your greenhouse to support the playing of music and now you’ve read online that music doesn’t necessarily help your plant. I wouldn’t worry about it too much for at least two reasons. Number one, I am not, and do not claim to be an expert. Number two, there’s nothing out there saying playing music for your plants is a bad thing! The main idea in tending to the plants in your greenhouse is that you are tending to them. Sure, plants can for the most part (aside from watering) can take care of themselves. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend some time with them and see to it that they are cared for. The natural vibrations from some music can potentially provide some benefit for your plants, but it likely has to be rather loud. When you personally get your hands dirty (maybe you use gloves) and physically handle the plants you are providing the necessary stimulus your plant is craving. You may be tempted to keep the volume super loud then to keep your plants happy, but please, there’s other options. A fan can also be used to create vibrations and simulated wind inside of greenhouses which can help your plants build themselves up strong as they remain in motion. It’s also probably better for both your ears and electric bill if you keep the volume to a suitable level. I’m not saying you can’t rock out in your greenhouse, it’s yours after all, who am I to tell you what to do? I’m just suggesting that when you do maybe you keep the volume below a point that will break either your ear drums or the glass on your greenhouse.

If you want to play some music for you plants, there’s really no harm in doing so. Classical music isn’t going to be the magical cure you’ve been looking for just as metal isn’t going to kill your crop. Plants do seem to have some human tendencies but as far as music, maybe each plant is different. Perhaps your plant really doesn’t like the Rolling Stones but would rather listen to some Bob Marley. I wouldn’t judge them too harshly, Kaya is a great album. It could be a fun activity for you to play a bunch of different artists for your plants and see which they like best. Or you could decide for them and just play what you’re feeling that day. You could just ignore your plants feelings all together and keep your headphones in, I’m sure they won’t mind. Maybe you don’t have plants in your greenhouse at all. If so, I’d imagine the only problems you’d have then would be with your neighbors. Some of our greenhouses are pretty well insulated, I’d imagine they’d make for pretty good practice studios, assuming you have the space and don’t trash about too wildly. But hey, if you do, I’m sure we’ve got replacement panels for ya. Maybe we should start stocking speaker equipment for greenhouses, something I’ll have to look into for the future. I haven’t checked, but I imagine the acoustics inside a greenhouse would be pretty phenomenal. Think about it, they’re small, they have a simple design so no strange corners sound can get lost in and the best part is they’re not directly a part of the house in most cases. If you actually plan on playing a drum set or some other loud instrument inside your home, you need to prepare for the noise level. At least if you play it in the greenhouse, the rest of the residents in the home can get some peace and quiet.

If you’ve made it this far, I once again want to take this moment to thank you and wish you and yours a great week!


-Brian Bill

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Kathy - January 4, 2023

Jan 2023. I am providing my greenhouse (some leftover herbs from last fall) with my old I pod player, it may help to warm it up a bit and may keep the rodents away!

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