Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Helen from , . Helen Wonders, “Does talking to plants really help them grow?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Helen !
Have you ever helped a friend or family member plant a garden? Maybe you've picked a flower for a special friend as a simple gesture to show them how much you care about them? If you've ever worked with live flowers or plants, you know that they require special care to survive and thrive.
For example, plants need a foundation of good soil to support and nourish their roots. They also need sunlight so that their cells can produce food via photosynthesis. Plants won't do well unless they have a sufficient supply of water, too.
Occasionally, plants will require special minerals that can be provided by applying a fertilizer to the plant's roots. If you've satisfied all of these basic needs but a plant is still struggling, there's one more thing you could try: a kind word. Many people believe that talking to plants helps them to grow, and they may just be right!
The idea that talking to plants helps them to grow is not a modern notion. Experts believe this theory probably dates back to a book from 1848, in which German professor Gustav Fechner suggested plants might be capable of feeling human-like emotions. While Fechner's ideas might have been a bit far reaching, many other scientists have hypothesized over the years that plants might somehow respond positively to sounds.
People who love gardening will often tell you that they believe speaking to plants has a beneficial impact on their overall health and growth. Despite many different scientific studies on this theory, there's still no conclusive evidence that talking to plants helps them grow or, if it does, why it helps.
There is evidence from certain studies, however, to suggest that it's a plausible theory that plants do respond positively to exposure to sounds. For example, some researchers have found evidence that plants respond to vibrations. Although some scientists believe plant responses to vibrations help them survive in windy environments, it's plausible to think that sounds, which are forms of vibrations, could affect plants, too.
Other researchers believe that talking to plants may stimulate growth because of the carbon dioxide produced when people exhale as they speak. Since plants take in carbon dioxide, some scientists believe carbon dioxide could explain the benefit that speaking to plants seems to provide.
So what proof is there that speaking to plants helps them to grow? The crew of the television show Mythbusters tested this theory back in 2004. They set up seven greenhouses with a variety of recordings playing around the clock: two greenhouses played negative speech, two greenhouses played positive speech, one greenhouse played classical music, one greenhouse played heavy metal music, and the last greenhouse was silent.
Of all the greenhouses, the silent greenhouse showed the least amount of plant growth. The plants in the greenhouses with speech — either positive or negative — grew faster than those in the silent greenhouse. Surprisingly, the greenhouses with music grew the most of all. In fact, the greenhouse that played heavy metal music grew the most of all!
So is the Mythbusters test conclusive proof that talking to plants helps them grow? Not quite! The Mythbusters researchers acknowledged that additional tests needed to be conducted, but their results made them conclude that it's certainly a plausible theory that talking to plants can have a beneficial impact on their health and growth.