Talking to plants is a completely normal thing gardeners do. We can’t help but comment on how cute their new leaf is or say how nasty those aphids are for feasting on them. But can talking to your plants help them grow? Let’s get to the bottom of how much power your words have.
My plants are some of my best friends. I love having conversations with them. They’re great listeners and never tell me anything I don’t want to hear. It’s a great relationship!
I’ve definitely asked how my plants are doing while I dust their leaves or say sorry when I catch one drooping from lack of water—though maybe that last one is the Canadian in me.
And I know I’m not the only crazy plant lady out there talking to my plants. According to one survey, 50% of respondents admitted that they talk to their plants, and out of those that do, 65% said they do it because they believe it helps their plants grow.
I’ve seen many clickbaity articles telling you that the key to growing healthy plants is to play them classical music or whisper positive affirmations to them every day. But, does that actually help? Can plants even hear?
To get to the bottom of it, I’ve found a few studies to help us prove whether talking to plants helps them grow.
This post will cover…
Does Sound Affect Plant Growth?
Before we can jump straight to talking to plants, let’s talk about sound in general. It is proven that the vibrations that come from sound affect plants.
In one study, they had Chinese cabbages and cucumbers listen to birds, insects, water, and classical music. All were found to increase the vegetable’s plant growth.
Another study from the International Integrative Sciences, Innovation and Technology played Indian music to chickpea and marigold plants. The study found that all the plants grew taller, had more foliage, and looked healthier overall.
It’s proven that the presence of sound has a positive impact on a plant’s health.
Can Talking to Plants Help Them Grow?
So what about talking? There’s no definitive evidence that talking to your plants has specific benefits, but I won’t shut down the idea either.
Humans are often talking to things that can’t understand us. I don’t think my cat Magic understands a lick of what I say, yet I still talk to him on the regular. And when it comes to talking to my plants, I sure don’t expect to get any responses.
If I talk to something, I will feel more connected to it. The more time I spend with my plants and forming a “relationship” with them, the more likely I am to take care of them. And the better the care, the better the growth.
Sound and its vibrations are proven to help plant health, and since talking is one of the most common sounds our houseplants and garden plants are bound to hear, it’s reasonable to think it could make a difference. It certainly couldn’t hurt!
Ikea did a famous PR campaign where they did an experiment speaking kindly to plants. The experiment took place in anticipation of Anti-Bullying Day, and they encouraged kids to “bully” one plant and compliment the other. Over the course of 30 days, the plants grew in the same conditions. The plant that received compliments thrived, while the bullied one became wilted and droopy.
Now, this experiment is far from being scientific and more closely resembles a middle school science project. And if the real experiment didn’t change anything, I doubt Ikea would have admitted to it. But nonetheless, I think it’s worth mentioning.
Do Plants Like Music?
While there hasn’t been enough evidence to prove that talking to plants helps them grow, there is good reason to believe that music does help plants grow.
The TV show MythBusters did an excellent experiment to prove whether talking to plants helps them grow, adding music to the mix.
In the experiment, seven of the same plants were placed in different greenhouses and given the same growing conditions. Then, they changed the sound elements for each by adding a microphone to the room:
- Plant with no sound
- Two plants with positive speech.
- Two plants with negative speech.
- One plant with classical music.
- One plant with metal music.
Can you guess which plant performed the best? Surprisingly, the plant listening to metal music did the best. The plant without sound grew the worst, while the plants that listened to people talking grew slightly better regardless of whether the words were positive or negative (take that, Ikea!). The plant listening to classical music did even better, and the plant listening to metal music topped them all.
I also love this Instagram post, which was one of the only good things to come out of 2020. The Barcelona Opera House hosted a concert entirely for an audience of plants. I bet the plants have never heard such beautiful live music!
Plants Talk Too!
Did you know that plants actually make noise themselves? When I was answering another common gardening question, can plants feel pain, I learned that some plants will actually “scream” when they’re cut.
No, it doesn’t sound like us when we scream. Nor does it even resemble a cry of pain. The noises they make are not audible to us but are a way for plants to communicate and warn nearby plants.
In one study, they found that plants having a “good” day will emit less ultrasonic noise. Meanwhile, injured or dehydrated people let out dozens of sounds every hour.
Just listen to how these musicians played a song with a sugar maple!
How to Talk to Plants
You don’t need me or any studies to tell you how to talk to your plants. Or someone to tell you that it makes no difference to their happiness. If you want to talk to your plants, then go for it!
I find that half the time, I’m really talking to myself. It helps me to express what I’m thinking at the time, even if it’s me commenting on how dusty my snake plant looks.
Being around plants, greenery, and nature is proven to improve our mental health. The practice of gardening, whether it’s bathing your houseplants or digging in the dirt outside, is mindful and calming. And you can’t deny how proud you feel when one of your plants thrives! Proud plant parent over here.
So go ahead and practice piano in front of your plants, rant to them about how annoying your neighbour is, or that you love their new leaf. Your plant will love the sound vibrations of your voice!
More Burning Gardening Questions Answered!