The Surprising Relationship of Plants and Music

Of course, people love music, and we’ve long known that other animals respond to it as well. Now it turns out that even plants also have the capacity to listen and appreciate melody.


What Spurred the Idea

In 1973, Christopher Bird and Peter Tompkins published The Secret Life of Plants, a book documenting studies that show music affecting the growth of plants. Since then, plant growers and scientists have agreed that there is indeed a positive relationship, theorizing that plants are able to pick up vibrations in the air when music is played.

A Few Early Studies


One of the earliest proponents of using music to grow plants was botanist T.C. Singh from the Annamalia University in India. In his studies, he found that, under controlled environments, playing music to balsam plants increase their size and yield. Later, Eugene Canby, a Canadian engineer, found that playing violin sonatas by Johann Sebastian Bach was also very effective.

What Music Works Best

Classical music appears to be the genre of choice of plants. In one experiment, plant specimens grew toward, and even entwined themselves on speakers playing Beethoven, Brahms, Hayden and Schubert. What about something more modern, you say? Well, it turns out plants are indifferent to pop and country music, averse to rock, but in favor of jazz.

Plants and Emotions

If plants respond to music, it doesn’t take a giant leap of thought to assume that also have feelings. Well, that’s both true and false: that is, while plants can indeed react to outside stimuli (sounds or music, as well as temperature and light), their sensory perceptions are much less developed than that of people or even animals.


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