Serenading Plants

Now I’ve heard of people hugging trees, which I may or may not have participated in (see photo), talking to plants and leaving the radio on for animals, but I had never heard of people leaving music on in the house specifically for plants.

Photo Credit Helen Armet My Last tree hug.

Well a new study has revealed just that; with Scotland’s very own Lewis Capaldi coming out at number one in the Top of the Pots for Plants by quite a margin.

The survey, from Pointless Plants found that 48% of Brits play their plants music to help stimulate growth – with Lewis Capaldi appearing on 62% of plant playlists.

BPI recently revealed that the recorded music market grew by 8.2% in 2020, with almost 155 million albums streamed across the year. But how much of this music was played to plants? 

It may sound daft, but with so many of us becoming plant parents in 2020, we’re seeing some unusual trends when it comes to keeping our plants strong and healthy.

Pointless Plants surveyed 1150 plant parents between the ages of 25-34 to reveal that 48% admit that they’ve played their plants music to stimulate growth. So which musicians are the most popular on the plant playlist?

  1. Lewis Capaldi – 62%
  2. BTS – 55%
  3. Taylor Swift – 51%
  4. Tame Impala – 40%
  5. Elton John – 37%
  6. Stormzy – 32%
  7. Rihanna – 28%
  8. Fleetwood Mac – 22%
  9. David Bowie – 19%
  10. The Weeknd – 7%

Nathan Raab, MD at Pointless Plants, said: 

“Caring for plants is not only a soothing hobby, it’s one that can make us feel miles away from our busy, home-working lives of Zoom calls and Team meetups. Because of this, many of us have become plant parents in 2020.  

Like any type of parenting, there’s a sense of responsibility that comes with it. As we look for creative ways to keep our plants growing strong, we’re seeing some unusual trends as a result. Many of us now name our plants – believing the personal touch will help us bond with, and care for our plants. Some of us have gone one step further: talking to our plants to soothe them into growing. 

And others have gone further still: playing music to our plants to encourage them to grow! While there’s debate over whether playing music to our leafy friends is actually likely to lead to a growth spurt, we’re fascinated by how many of us are now serenading our plants – and exactly which bands or artists are a hit with our potted pals.

Photo credit Helen Armet

Ok, so the impact of music on plant growth has been hotly debated by scientists for decades, with numerous studies conducted to find out if different vibrations can really stimulate growth. 

We’re definitely on the side of “yes, play that funky music, planty”, but whether or not the science behind plant music is legit, it’s clear that us Brits are using music as a way to stimulate our plants. When asked ‘have you played music specifically for plants’, almost half of those surveyed admitted that yes, they had.

K-Pop superstars BTS came in second, with 55% of plant owners admitting they’d played the boy band to their plants at some point in the last year. Pop queen Taylor Swift came third, with 51% of the vote, while Elton John, Fleetwood Mac and David Bowie also appeared on the list, suggesting that it’s not just modern hits that make the plant playlist. 

Whether these bands and singers have a beneficial impact on our plants – or whether they just remain popular musicians to play while we garden – your guess is as good as ours. But the results make it clear that plant care is all about creativity – and a good old fashion dose of music.

Supporting Theory: Sound Science or Pseudoscience?

There have been numerous studies which have suggested that, yes, playing music for plants is a great way to boost their growth. Back in 1962, an Indian botanist Dr. T. C. Singh discovered that his balsam plants grew 20% more when he played them classical music. Experimenting with different plants and different kinds of music, Dr. T. C. Singh concluded that yes, music did in fact help plants to grow. 

In 1973, Dorothy Retallack, a student at Colorado Women’s College, carried out her own series of experiments, split testing plants with different kinds of sound. The suggestion was that yes, plants did respond to sound. Going one step further, Dorothy played classical music to some of her plants and rock music – Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix – to others. She found that those who lived on a diet of hardcore rock died sooner than those treated to gentler classical music. 

Plants however, don’t have ears, so really shouldn’t respond to sound at all. In which case, perhaps plants are more drawn to the vibrations which cause sound, as opposed to sound itself.

Top Tips for Playing Plants Music

If you are looking to play your plants music, follow these top tips offered by head researcher at Plant Life Balance, Dr Dominique Hes:

  • Plants thrive with music that falls between 115Hz and 250Hz – these vibrations come closest to mimicking the sounds of nature. 
  • Classical is the best music to play to plants. 
  • Don’t play music to plants for more than three hours a day!
Rooster? Photo credit Helen Armet

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