Can talking to plant help it grow?

I did not know what to write the post about until I randomly glanced on the flower in my room. I immediately remembered that heard somewhere that plans grow better if you talk with them, so I decided to make a research on this.

The first mention of plants benefiting from talking with them appeared in the book Nanna published by German professor Gustav Fechner in 1848. After some time the album called “Music to Grow Plants By” was recoded.

There is not much research done on this particular topic, but the head of Penn State’s horticulture department Rich Marini stated that environmental stimuli such as sound which is a form of vibration corresponds to the effect on plant growth. “Since sound is essentially vibration, my guess is that vibration is causing a response.” Researchers at South Korea’s National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology published a paper that supports Marini’s idea. They said that genes rbcS and Ald, which are responsible for plant’s response to light, are turned on when music was played at 70 decibels, which is a level of normal conversation. Frequency of the sound influenced responses of the genes. The reason why plans respond to the vibration is a belief that this is their way to survive during windy environment.  “Plants exposed to wind produce a growth-retardant hormone called ethylene, which causes the plant to be shorter and to have thicker stems”. Another theory claims that carbon dioxide that is produced as person speaks is the factor that influences plant growth, but Marini says that this theory is not well-established.  He explains that in order to influence the growth of plant, people would have to talk to it for a few hours per day.

The Royal Horticultural Society actually proved that talking to plants makes them grow faster.  The study lasted for one month and included ten participants of men and women. They were reading either scientific or literary works and were recorded during the process. The records had been played through set headphones attached to ten tomato plant’s pots. There were also two pots that did not listen to records as a control group. By the end of the month researchers found out plants, which were exposed to female voices, grew one inch taller than those exposed to men’s voices.  There is no certainty why plants reacted to female voices better. The theory claims that range of tone produced by women is greater and it affects the sound waves what has an effect on plant growth.

The interesting fact about this study is that plant that grew two inches taller than others was listening to record of Sarah Darwin, great-great granddaughter of Charles Darwin. You know what book she was reading? – On the Origin of Species.

3 thoughts on “Can talking to plant help it grow?

  1. yvy5242

    I found your topic is really interesting. Since I am now taking Horticulture class, I do believe that talking to plants can physically change them. I saw some researchers divided plants into three groups, one is surrounded with silence, the other two is surrounded with good praise and mean cruel insult. The result was both the latter two groups had better plant growths. Though there appears no difference between praises and insults. The soundtracks do play a crucial role.

  2. Ka Ki Kwok

    A very interesting post! I found it really surprising that talking to plant can actually make them grow faster. However, I agree that making a conclusion just basing on a study with 10 participant can be inaccurate. It may have a very high possibility of it being a fluke. A meta-analysis is definitely needed to better analyze the result. A randomized controlled trial can be conducted consisting three groups of plants and 100 plants per group. Group one will be played women’s voice, group 2 men’s, and group 3 with no sounds.

  3. Brian Dougherty

    This is a perfect example of where a meta-analysis would be extremely beneficial to answering this question of whether talking to plants helps them grow or not. The study you have used is based off of just 10 participants. This would be fine if there were multiple studies done with 10 participants, but jumping to a conclusion that talking to a plant can help its growth based on 10 participants is a bit rash. A meta-analysis would take out the uncertainty because it would include more studies and give a better understanding of the average results to get a bigger picture of what is going on.

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