Do Sounds Affect Plant Growth

Remember your Grandmom out in the garden singing and talking to her Plants and Flowers. The experience was healthy for Gardner and nurturing for the Plant. A trade-off of sorts that was wholesome and natural. Your Grandmom was happy, and energetic getting exercises every day while keeping her Plants healthy and growing. Does Singing or Talking to Plants help them grow?

Science has proven that plants:

  • Detect vibration
  • Emit sound waves at levels of 10-240Hz
  • Emit ultrasonic acoustics within 20-300Hz
  • Grow into the direction of vibration
  • That plants make sounds
  • Respond to touch, light, scent, wind & gravity
  • But talking & singing to help them grow is inconclusive


Since the days of Charles Darwin, people believed that singing or talking in a gentle loving voice helped nurture plants and produce a plentiful harvest.  For generations, people thought there was a response and relationship between Gardner and the Garden Plants. But is there a scientific link or is it just folklore?


Can Plants Hear Vibration


There have been Claims for many years that music helps plants grow despite evidence that is shaky at best. Yet new research suggests some flora may be capable of sensing sounds, such as the gurgle of water through a pipe or the buzzing of insects, or their Farmer’s voice. It might have to do with frequency than a sound. A plant can be responding to vibrations that a certain sound is associated with. Leaves can be extremely capable of detecting vibrations.

Plant bioacoustics refers to the creation of sound waves by plants. Plants emit audio acoustic emissions between 10–240 Hz as well as ultrasonic acoustic emissions (UAE) within 20–300 kHz. Evidence for plant mechanosensory abilities is shown when roots are subjected to unidirectional 220 Hz sound and subsequently, grow in the direction of the vibration source.

This is like how your houseplant leaves lean towards a light source.  Biologists believe that Plants can also perceive scent, touch, wind, and even gravity, and are able to respond to sounds, too. Research Scientist has experimented with some plants being able to pick up vibrations of caterpillars or insects that feed on them to emit natural toxins that turn the bugs away and are able to survive the attack.

They believe that the reason they can is that they have the ability to identify the vibration source.

A study led by The University of Western Australia has found plants have far more complex and developed senses than we thought with the ability to detect and respond to sounds to find water, and ultimately survive. In the study “Tuned in: plant roots use sound to locate water” published in Oecologia, UWA researchers found that plants can sense  vibration from running water moving through pipes or in the soil, to help their roots move towards the source of water. The study also revealed that plants do not like certain noises and will move away from particular sounds.

They believe that this type of vibration knowledge can be used by farmers to offset crop damage done by certain insects that are predators to these plants and others in the future.

Do Plants Respond To Voices


In studies done by The Royal Horticultural Society (founded in 1804 as the Horticultural Society of London, is the UK’s leading gardening charity. The RHS promotes horticulture through flower shows including the Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Tatton Park Flower Show, and Cardiff Flower Show) discovered that talking to your plants in your garden really makes a difference. They also found in the experiments that a female voice made another difference in growth.

According to Researchers, headphones were used on 10 individual pots of tomatoes and 10 different people read literary and scientific works and the ones that read by women grew an average of 1 inch taller than the tomatoes that were read by men. There are some differences in testing results but pretty cool findings that most people have suspected for a long time.


The hit TV show called “Mythbusters” conducted a study in which 60 plants were divided among three greenhouses. In one, growers played recordings of humans saying nice things to the plants. In another, recordings sounded insults at the plants. The third greenhouse was just silent, with no recordings played. After two months, the plants were slightly greater but roughly equal growth in the two greenhouses with the recordings being played, and they showed the least growth in the control greenhouse with no sound.

Researchers with the National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology in South Korea found that plant growth is stimulated by music, and the growth appeared to be linked to two genres related to how plants respond to sunlight. Charles Darwin himself suspected a link between plant growth and vibration. In an informal experiment, he had his son play the bassoon to seedlings, but the results were inconclusive.


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Can Plants Make Sounds


A great short video on experimenting with sounds that plants make. What Do Plants Sound Like? Plants and the Audible Spectrum Though often too low or too high for human ears to detect, insects and animals signal each other with vibrations. When leaves open their pores to capture carbon dioxide, they lose huge amounts of water.

Because of this, the plant’s roots suck water from the ground, sending it skyward through a series of tubes called the xylem. Pit membranes, essentially two-way valves, connect each of the thousands of tiny tubes. The drier the soil, the more tension builds up in the xylem, until pop, an air bubble is pulled in through the membrane.

Even trees and plants fizz with the sound of tiny air bubbles bursting in their plumbing. Some plants die off from this reaction. Other trees and plants can repair themselves and grow healthy. Scientist believes there is some truth to the saying that with any kind of life come some sound sending and receiving at a certain frequency. This is based on frequencies that insects and plants make in their natural environment.

Even the lower forms of bacteria make sounds with vibrations for all different types of reasons. Even the lower forms of bacteria make sounds with vibrations for all different types of reasons. Researchers now have come up with an electronic device that will hear and be able to understand their language. Acoustic devices used for detecting buildings and bridge cracking are precise and sensitive enough for this application.

A  piezoelectric pick-up, yes the same one that guitar players have been using for decades goes through an amplifier to an oscilloscope that measures the waveform of each pop that the plants make. The new science is called Plant Hydraulics. This new tool among others and science will give the information that scientists will use when Global Warming and Water Scarcity becomes reality. Without it, the bubble bursts in xylem are ultrasonic, about 300 kiloHertz, detectable only by insects and some other animals.


Do Plants Respond to Touch


Even though it would be a nice thing for plants to be able to feel when being touched, there is no scientific proof there is. There is speculation that plants can feel and how they communicate showing only that there is more to study. There are Bio-Chemical reactions inside the Plant that can affect it positively or negatively.

“The lightest touch from a human, animal, insect, or even plants touching each other in the wind, triggers a huge gene response in the plant,” Jim Whelan, a biologist at La Trobe University in Australia and an author on the study, said in a statement. “Within 30 minutes of being touched, 10% of the plant’s genome is altered.”

The same study that comes from La Trobe University in Australia says that plants don’t like being touched. When this reaction from being touched happens it alters the plant’s life span and shortens it. If the touching continues its life can be shortened again by 30%.

When insects land on Plants it’s for one reason to eat them. So the Plant has a mechanism for defense also when Plants are planted too close and touch each other, they can compete for sunlight, water nutrients, and so on and it can hamper their growth.

Then some researchers firmly believe that Plants absolutely react to touch and in mostly a positive fashion. Like when a droplet of rain falls on a Plant’s leaf. The reaction is mostly unseen and happens inside the Plant.

There is a response to everything that occurs in Nature. Messages can be sent out for weather reports or warnings that pest is on their way to eat up the rest of the crop. The Touch Response can prepare plants to defend themselves from danger or to take advantage of favorable changes in the weather.

These changes and reactions might go unnoticed unless observed in a Lab setting. The study that observed the water droplets landing on the leaf, occurred minutes after spraying water onto it and ended within a half hour. They went on to say that they got the same reaction that was triggered by gently padding the leaf with their hand. 

All these studies that are being done, all end with one part speculation and one part of scientific proof. With a need for research and studies. Even Charles Darwin played his Bassoon to his flowers and plants in his garden every day to study if there was a trigger or reaction to doing this but his experiments, in the end, were Inconclusive.


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What To Say To Your Plants


Now we know that Plants can respond to light, touch, and gravity (Plants possess the ability to sense gravity in several ways, one of which is through statoliths. Statoliths are dense amyloplasts, organelles that synthesize and store starch involved in the perception of gravity by the plant (gravitropism), that collect in specialized cells called statocytes) from Wikipedia When I began writing this article I asked my wife who is a Florist and Floral Arranger told me that she talks to her indoor and outdoor plants every morning.

Of course, it’s good for them. She is from Korea and the people there in Korea also believe that. My Grandmom was from Ireland and she used to sing and talk to her roses. My mom is 93 and she still sings to her flowers and tomatoes. There’s got to be a reason, a connection between talking, singing, and Plant health and human that nurtures them.

But seeing is always believing. Here is my wife’s new project called Cuttings.  Some of them she picked from the side of the road while on a trip to Florida down in the Keys. She is what my family and friends call “a Plant whisperer” and can grow beautiful exotic Plants and Flowers from sticks or what’s called a Cutting.

It’s amazing what she does. When people ask how she does it She says “I sing and talk to my friends the Plants” When they ask her what she says, ” I tell them they are beautiful and that I love them”  Seeing is believing I have been watching her do it for over 35 years. In about 2 weeks come back and I’ll show you when it flowers-Unless my wife can talk it into flowering sooner!






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JimGalloway Author/Editor




Morning Herald- Believe it or not: plants respond tenderly when patted or touched


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