Why does music make plants grow taller?

Written by katie vyn
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Why does music make plants grow taller?
Music helps plants grow taller. (cheese plant image by morrbyte from Fotolia.com)

There have been many experiments on the effects of music on plant growth. According to a study done by Yu-Chuan Qin, Won-Chu Lee, Young-Cheol Choi and Tae-Wan Kim in 2002, plants that have "green music" played around them grow taller. "Green music" is a combination of classical music and nature sounds, such as wind, ocean waves, rain, birds, insects and other animals.

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Studies on Plant Growth

Studies on the effects of music on plant growth began as early as 1968 with Dorothy Retallack. She compared the effects of different types of music on plant growth, concluding that rock and acid rock had negative effects, while jazz, classical, pop and East Indian increased growth. Since then studies have continued to probe deeper to gain a better understanding of how and why music affects plant growth.

Sound Waves

The Physics Classroom defines sound as "a wave which is created by vibrating objects and propagated through a medium from one location to another." Scientists believe that some music affects plants in the same way it affects humans, stimulating growth and health. Researchers continue to study how music affects plants to help farmers with their crops and also to learn more about how music affects humans, specifically brain waves.

What Makes Plants Grow?

Starting from a seed, all plants have to fight to survive. Vibrations, such as sound and physical disturbances, affect plant growth. As plants grow, there are subtle vibrations that you do not see or feel. External vibrations, whether from music, sound or a physical disturbance, affect the internal vibrations, either stimulating growth or hampering it. Studies done by the Smithsonian and NASA show that mild vibrations increase growth in plants, while harsher, stronger vibrations have a negative effect. Studies about music reveal the same conclusion: gentler, consistent musical rhythms stimulate plant growth.

Stimulating Growth Protein

In "Good Vibrations Give Plants Excitations," Andy Coghlan writes about French physicist and musician Joel Sternheimer. He has found that certain types of music stimulate protein production in plants, therefore increasing plant growth. Coghlan writes, "The tunes are not random melodies: he chooses each note to correspond to an amino acid in a protein, and the full tune corresponds to an entire protein."

Electromagnetic Energy

As plant amino acids form to become a protein, quantum vibrations at a molecular level occur. Joel Sternheimer claims his music simulates these quantum vibrations. Coghlan quotes Sternheimer as saying, "Each musical note is a multiple of original frequencies that occur when amino acids join the protein chain."

Considerations

Some scientists suggest that music improves gardeners' moods and therefore plants grow stronger and healthier in this environment. A study in Great Britain recently found that women's voices make plants grow faster than men's voices. In a report in the Telegraph, "Women's voices 'make plants grow faster' finds Royal Horticultural Society," Richard Alleyne writes that the study disproved scientists' original hypothesis that men's voices would be more effective. Colin Crosbie, garden superintendent at RHS, said they do not know why but he believes, "It could be that they have a greater range of pitch and tone that affects the sound waves that hit the plant. Sound waves are an environmental effect just like rain or light."

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