I bought some seeds from HUB as a support to THON one day after class, and planted those seeds in my dorm. As I waited for it to germinate each day, I thought about the saying I used to heard that musics have positive effects on the growth of plants. To me it sounds reasonable. At least animals and human react to sounds and noises naturally, but I know I might be wrong. Plants are totally different from animals, just as sounds are different from music. Do plants have feelings? Can they react to sounds or musics as we do? I’m really curious about the answers to those questions. So I decided to further investigate on this topic.
It is hard to indicate if plants really have similar feelings as we do, but there are studies suggest that plants could respond to their surroundings. Jagadis Chandra Bose, an Indian physiologist, stated in his book “The Nervous Mechanism of Plants” that plants are very sensitive to elements in environment such as temperature, light and noises. So this makes it possible that plants could be reacted to music during the growing periods.
Before discussing about the correlation between music and plant growth, I decided to start from the simple option by focusing on Jagadish Candra Bose statement first, to see if basic sounds, instead of a rhythm produced by music, caused any effects on the growth of plants. A study called “The Effect of Sound on the Growth of Plants” (Collins et al, 2001) found out that plants grow faster under pure tones than random noise. The study used two types of species with fast growing rates as the experimental subjects, beans and impatient. Those plants were separated into different chambers, with one chamber as the control group and others as experimental groups. The experimental groups was exposed to sounds containing different frequencies but same intensity. The changes of the plant were measured every two days throughout the 28 days experiment. The research found that the plants generally grow better when exposed to pure tune with wavelength related to its average leaf dimension.
Since I’m not a scientist, I couldn’t explain the mechanism behind this but this study did show that sounds effect the growth of plants. It also stated that sounds with different wavelengths would influence the plant differently. This makes me think about if different types of music would do the same thing.
To further investigate in the area, I found another study called “Effect of Different Types of Music on Rosa Chinensis Plant”, which studied the effect of music on 30 types of rose chinesis plant. Those plants were divided into five different groups. One of the group was selected as a control group which kept in silence, while other groups were exposed to different types of musics from each other. The music types selected in this study were Vedic chants, Wester classical music, Rock music and Indian classical music. The study lasted for 60 days and different things such as the diameter of flowers and the number of flowers were recorded as an indicator of the growth of plant. The study concluded that Indian classical music and Vedic chants have significant affect on the growing rate of Rosa chinensis plants.
Both studies are randomized control experiments and produced sufficient datas that are hardly due to chance, so they are less likely to be a fluke. Also the topic is meta-analyses. Plenty of similar studies were done and books were published about the effects of music on plants, so there are certainly a correlation between those two variables. To me, what’s interesting is that now studies are investigating on further depth in this area, considering more third variables in their study to found out more detail information and correlation. So I would conclude that musics do help plants to grow.
Collins, Margaret E., and John E.K. Foreman. THE EFFECT OF SOUND ON THE GROWTH OF PLANTS. London: The University of Western Ontario, 2001. Pdf.