Do Plants Respond to Sound?


Nature Close to Home and Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Dave Woehr shares monthly naturalist stories.

LEBANON, OH -- Do you talk to your plants? Or sing to them? Or play music for them to listen to? 

I’ve heard that some people do just that and maintain that their plants respond favorably. I’ve always been skeptical. How do plants respond? Is the response real or imagined? Do the plants grow faster or produce more foliage, flowers, or fruit? Do they move in response to sound? Do they emit a sound or gesture back to an audible source? Hmm? Maybe my flower gardens would be more attractive if I sang to them. But what would the neighbors think?

There have apparently been a number of studies conducted on this topic. One claimed that the hum associated with the wingbeat of pollinating insects causes flowers to produce more nectar. Another study maintained that sound produces more growth in plants than silence does. Yet still another study concluded that sound frequencies up to 2.5 kHz, with a loudness of 90 dB notably increased the germination rate in green beans. Whether or not to believe such results is up to you and me. Personally, I need more convincing to become a believer.

Not long ago I was hiking in a woods and came upon a tree that appeared to be listening for something. With no one else around to be a witness and conclude that I might possibly be on the lunatic fringe, I decided to conduct an experiment. I walked up next to the tree and spoke to it softly. No response. Then I addressed it more authoritatively. ………… Crickets. That settles it. I’m still a skeptic.

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