Recently we moved a speaker near our UrbiPod to test the age-old theory that music helps plants grow. It’s an idea that dates back to early studies of plants and their connection to us as humans. In comparison, some theories mentioned in the 1973 book by Tomkins & Bird “The Secret Life of Plants” around the emotional and psychic relationship between plants and us are challenging to test. The influence that music can have is a bit simpler to try, rather than attempting to measure the impact of our good vibes, immaculate as they may be.
We’re certainly not the first to revisit this idea and won’t be the last. Perhaps most memorably for a lot of people it was tested on MythBusters in just their 23rd Episode. In this experiment, they used seven greenhouses, two with positive reinforcement, two with negative reinforcement, one with rock music, one with classical music, and finally a control greenhouse with no music being played. In their results, they found the plants played classical & rock music had the best growth.
There have been numerous studies into this area of research, often suggesting that plants can benefit from being played music. However, this is often rebuked because of the number of variables. Plants are very dependent on their surroundings; the weather, how much water they receive, what soil they’re in, some even suggesting the music improves the mood of the gardener resulting in better care of the plants and not a direct response to the music itself. This makes it difficult for any one element to being identified as helping a plant grow. However, we are willing to give it a try anyway.
As we mentioned earlier, some believe that good vibes are enough to promote plant growth. Hence, it’s difficult for us to isolate the music in our own test from the incredibly positive effect that our plants would be receiving during our office hours.
The Journal of Integrative Agriculture published an article into ‘Advances in Effects of Sound Waves on Plants’ which found that sound waves could be the reason behind this increased growth. The sound waves help stimulate plant membrane, which in turn stimulated growth & at the right volume could help seed germination levels. However, they do not mention in their paper whether they were able to connect to each plant on a psychic level in an identical way to keep the variable constant.
Now having acknowledged that there are many variables that must be controlled when conducting an experiment such as this we decided to ignore this completely, throw our speaker next to an UrbiPod and play our plants some elevator music. In my opinion they loved it! Scientifically conclusive? No. Worth giving a go yourself? Yes!