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Classical Music & Its Effects on Plants

By Mary Osborne ; Updated September 21, 2017
Onion plants seemed to prefer the music of Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky.

Scientists and researchers have long studied the effects of music on plant growth. Chronicling how music, from hard rock and boogie-woogie to the most refined classical pieces, may or may not stimulate plants to grow fascinates both the most-educated botanist and youngest science fair participant in elementary school. Whether or not classical music has any effect on urging or retarding plant growth is a hot topic.

Louder Is Better

While most mainstream scientists and botanists believe that no irrefutable evidence exists to prove whether classical or any other music stimulates plant growth, some researchers entertain the notion that sound waves may agitate the air around planets just enough to stimulate plant growth. In a question-and-answer section of the Science Centre Singapore’s Website, one researcher quoted a United Kingdom biologist who suggested that a fan running in place of a loudspeaker blaring music would probably generate the same agitating effect.

Some researchers believe that the frequencies of music played to plants need to be kept at or near 5000 Hz in order for it to be beneficial to plant growth or, more important, larger fruit size and more vibrant and fragrant flowers.

The Chinese Meridian and Acoustic Biology

Though plants don't have ears or brains to listen to and understand the complexities of music, many researchers believe that plants do respond to sound frequency as sensed through a "meridian system" that picks up sound waves. Based on a Chinese theory, the meridian system suggests that both plants and animals have an acoustical sensing system and react positively or negatively to music, depending on the sound.

Researchers don't fully understand this meridian system, but witness marked growth and production rates among plants that are exposed to "agri-wave technology."

Mozart and Onion Roots

Russian researchers conducted experiments on onion plant roots that received consistent exposure to classical music. The music, composed by classical greats such as Mussorgsky, Chopin, Mozart, Wagner and Schubert, was chosen for its complex, rhythmic accents. The onion "listened" to the selected classical music six hours a day for 10 days. After 10 days, the onion roots were measured and examined at the cellular level. The scientists in charge of the experiment determined that the plants responded favorably to classical music by growing longer, more vigorous roots. Plants that listened to music with lyrics grew even longer roots.

Not Enough Evidence

Though rice, corn, wheat, onion, passion vines and germinating seedlings have been exposed to various types of music with seemingly positive results, many scientists and botanists do not believe that music, classical or otherwise, has a direct affect on the growth of plants. In fact, some researchers propose that rather than a plant being stimulated by the music, it is the plant's caregiver who is positively affected and passes on his good cheer to the plant by caring for it more diligently.

Mimosa Pudica, The Sensitive Plant

One plant very few researchers argue over being receptive to classical or other music is the Mimosa pudica, or the sensitive plant. This particular plant is not only sensitive to touch, but it is also particularly receptive to sound-induced vibrations. When exposed to classical music that is loud enough to cause a vibratory disturbance, its leaves curl up as if it were touched. Ross Koning of Plant Phys Info suggests an experiment in which the Mimosa pudica is exposed to nonstop vibration stimulus. Hypothetically, that would prevent the leaves from uncurling and thereby inhibit rather than encourage plant growth.