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Can music help plants grow? Fascinating things happen with sound

You might want to apply it in your garden.

Photo by Darren Coleshill

Like humans, plants respond to the environment. The typical effect you’ve seen or heard about is called heliotropism. Well, maybe you’ve not heard of it by its name, but you’ve seen or read how plants track the sun’s position. Sunflowers are the most common example.

Photo by ID 8926 from Pixabay

Sunflowers love the sun, so they always look for it. If the sun is on the horizon, they’ll turn to face it. When it’s noon, the sun is at its highest point in the sky. And there you see the sunflowers looking straight up. And so on.

Fun fact: there’s also leaf heliotropism. Some plant species orient their leaves perpendicular to the sun’s rays, just like the flower.

Plants respond to the environment and as such to music as well. So how will different musical pieces affect the plant?

An experiment with plants and sound might look like this:


Photo by Tony Romano from Popperfront

You would have plants exposed to certain types of music for at least a couple of weeks. Some plants would listen to one genre, while others to a different one, and some would be exposed to no sound (the control group).

Don’t worry, plants are not exposed to music 24/7. That would drive them insane, just like us.

What do you think will happen? Take a wild guess before continue reading.

First, does music have any effect?

If you put music to your plants, would it help? Studies show a definite YES. There is a clear difference between not having music (a.k.a silence) and stimulating plants with music. Plants prefer music to silence. But not any kind of music (which we’ll see later).

Interestingly enough, it doesn’t increase just their heights but it also has other amazing effects[1][5]:

  • The number of leaves increases.
  • The number of flowers increases.
  • The time of flowering quickens (one week at least).
  • Seeds sprout faster.

There are many benefits. It’s also interesting to see how plants grow towards the source of the music. Like if they are trying to feel it more closely. It shows their appreciation to sound.

Music helps, but what type of music suits them best?

This is where it gets tricky. Studies don’t usually use the same type of music, so comparisons are not always available. One thing for sure is that plants hate rock and heavy metal (are they biased?). Many experiments confirm these findings (see references below).


Photo by Green My Life

The genre that has been more researched is classical music. So you could put it in first place, as it is the most well-researched genre.

Top 3:

  1. Classical music
  2. Indian classical music
  3. Devotional chants

Tips for your garden

What can you do in your garden to enhance growth (also supported by science)? Here are some things you could do.

Musical styles that can enhance growth:

DON’T put Rock, acid Rock, or Heavy Metal. It’s worse than silence [4]. Plants even bend away from the source of the music [8].


Try to use a moderate or low volume. As a reference, use 80dB or less. That level of volume would be equal to listening to a passing truck or train, or a classical concert in an open venue.

Amount of time per day

Many experiments use a measure of 3 hours per day, so if they’ve had good results then it’s a safe bet. If you want to see any results you should at least carry on with the experiment for 4 weeks.

Plant arrangement

  • If you have your plants in a pot, place the speaker in the middle and surround it with these pots. Make a circle around it and put them at a distance of 20cm (almost 8 inches) from the speaker.
  • If you a garden outside you could put the speaker on a platform and face it towards the plants you’d like to stimulate. Don’t put the speaker too far from them, as they need to be able to hear it. I would say 4–5m maximum distance (4.4 yards — 5.5yards) so that you don’t have to raise the volume so much.

Why are plants influenced by music?

There’s evidence that music has been used in many indigenous societies across the world. It’s been used primarily for an agricultural purpose, in countries such as Japan, Bulgaria, Mali, Bolivia, New Zealand, and in many many more.

Researchers are still baffled and there’s no definite answer. One line of thought says that it’s because of the vibrations produced by sound waves. These vibrations make the plant cells move which in turn stimulates them to produce more nutrients.

Another line of thought says it’s because plants respond positively to being taken care of. There’s an interesting experiment with plants being bullied with pre-recorded mean phrases repeated to them on daily. Compared to plants being praised, the bullied ones completely shrunk. I know you’re curious so I’ll leave you with a video:

Final thoughts

We’ve established that plants respond to music. They thrive with certain kinds of music and it helps them not only in their growth but in other processes as well.

This positive influence could be used in many crops worldwide, don’t you think? It could help plants develop faster and be healthier. If indigenous cultures have taken advantage of music, so could we.

And we shouldn’t stop there. Plants are living beings, so maybe other living beings can benefit as well. There’s some research on how music influences microbe activity. A sewage plant facility in Germany used Mozart’s music to enhance microbes to break down waste. Their monthly savings are reported to be around 1.000€ (or approximately $1,097) [3].

The sky is the limit right?

By Pavle Marinkovic on March 10, 2020

Are you curious about the world of sound and music? Learn how music can enhance a plant’s growth, the way sound changes our sense of taste, understand the music industry, and much more! Join my newsletter to embark on this journey of sound awareness.

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