Gardening to Music

Jessie Clark, Master Gardener Trainee

Over the last decade there has been interesting research about the impact of sound waves on plant growth. Studies have shown that sound can stimulate plant growth on a cellular level. Ultrasound can help germinate seeds, and sound waves can increase the yield of crops like sweet pepper, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, spinach, cotton, rice, and wheat. It likely boosts the plant’s immune system. Pests and diseases including spider mites, aphids, gray mold, late blight, virus disease of tomatoes and sheath blight of rice all reduce with the presence of sound waves.

What more recent studies seem to be interested in is the type of music. Do plants respond differently to various genres? One study found that plants exposed to classical music and rhythmic rock had more germinated seeds, were taller and had more leaves than plants exposed to no music. Violin has been noted as a particular favorite. Plants respond well to devotional music. Traffic noises left plants in a stressed condition, as did heavy metal. Another study found that Indian classical music and chants (think: yoga class) were superior to other genres.

For my plants? I like to think they appreciate “Strawberry Swing” by Coldplay or “Wildfire” by John Mayer. This Sunday while I was watering in the plant studio, they got to enjoy “Holy Water” by We The Kingdom. Johnnyswim, Alabama Shakes and John Legend helped me power through Valentine’s Day orders in the plant studio, and in hindsight I imagine my plants felt as energized by that as I did.

So what do we take from this? Plants are interacting with their environment in more ways that we expect. Growers often focus on the lighting, air circulation, fertilizing, watering, and keeping them away from other hazards like inclement weather or our well-meaning dog who buries her bone underneath it. However we now know there are some additional ways we can show our plants some love.

Next time you water your plants, consider turning on some of your favorite music. Your plants will enjoy it as much as you do!

If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.eduand westtexasgardening.org.

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