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Plant Reaction to Music

Image by, courtesy of Hajime NAKANO

Do you ever talk to your plants? Perhaps you offer praise or encouragement along with water and fertilizer. Plants are aware of their environment. This is especially true of houseplants. They lean toward the light and bloom when conditions are perfect. But along with light and praise, you should consider music.


Dorothy Retallack, who wrote "The Sound of Music and Plants" in 1973, experimented with plants and music at Colorado Woman’s College in Denver. She placed her plants in three rooms, with different types of music or none at all. The plants' responses were dramatically different. (See Resource section.)

Plant Response to Music

Retallack found that when plants were placed in a room with hard rock music, they became sickly or died—and would actually turn away from the speaker. The plants that "listened" to classical music thrived. They even leaned toward the speakers. Music with stringed instruments (violin) always encouraged growth, and plants in a room with a single, continuous tone died.

Music for Plants in a Vineyard

Image by, courtesy of Francesco Sgroi

Italian scientists tried playing music in a Tuscan vineyard to see if the grape plants would grow better. They did scientific tests on young plants in a controlled area and in the vineyard. After plants had been exposed to music for several months, the experimenters found increased growth of shoots and larger leaves.

The Plant Botantist's View

At, botanist Ross Koning reports that plants cannot hear and, therefore, cannot respond to music. He does allow that they might detect the vibrations made by the music. Konig's article titled "Science Projects on Music and Sound" is aimed at students who want to conduct experiments about the effect of music on plants. His main criticism of the claims by people who say they have seen plants respond differently to various kinds of music is that they have not conducted properly controlled studies.


The effect of music on plants is a popular experiment for school science fair projects. Students who have tried playing all varieties of music for plants get results consistent with Retallack's. Classical music is preferred by plants over hard rock, rap and continuous single tones.

What is good for people is probably good for plants. The Mozart Effect is a theory that listening to the brilliant composer's music improves brain function. Mozart's music may also encourage good plant growth. Plants may not hear the music the way people do, but they could respond to good vibrations.

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