Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Plants, Humans, and Music

I, among other people, in Edward’s Herbs and Veggies department, listen to the classical music that wafts over from the neighboring Perennials department. I enjoy the music reaching the flowers, trees, and customers, and wondered if it’s beneficial, beyond giving me pleasure. According to my internet research, the Perennials department seems to have wisdom in this area, but the story doesn’t stop there!

According to information on dovesong.com and ehow.com, Dorothy Retallack, in 1968, studied how different types of music effects plant growth. She found that rock (of her generation), acid rock, “modern” (dischordant) classical music stunted growth, with plants turning away from the source of the music and becoming unhealthy. She found slight negative reactions to percussive steel drums music, and that when the same song was played on stringed instruments the plants bent toward the speaker. Intrigued, she did more experiments with North Indian classical music performed by sitar and tabla, Bach organ music, country and western music, and jazz, with control groups of no music. The plants “liked” all selections, with no change seen with the control groups and the country and western music, but showed the most beautiful and abundant growth with the Indian music and jazz.

It appears music stimulates growth and health in plants and humans. Gentler, consistent musical rhythms stimulate plant growth. French physicist and musician, Joel Sternheimer, claims that the right kind of music stimulates protein production and quantum vibrations in plants, increasing plant growth.

Music improves gardeners’ moods, therefore helping gardeners care for plants with more skill. Music and the brain is a fascinating area to explore. Cnn.com refers to a study in the journal Science, by Valorie Salimpoor, a researcher at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and former student of Daniel Levitin, a prominent psychologist who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal. She talks about how differences in music choice are reflected in different parts of the brain. Partly it has to do with what’s most reward-related, and genres of music that a person listens to over a lifetime that impacts how connections and structures form with musical preferences. Surprisingly, my co-workers and I often chose to listen to sitar and tabla, and other soothing/gentle rhythmic to feel good even before I had done this research. The music definitely had effects on us as gardeners, calming our nerves and inspiring good work, and coincidentally it’s good for plant growth too! Now, not all of us prefer this music, and some had hoped I’d find out how rock music actually helps plants. Who’d like to do some research to see if herbs and vegetables “like” the kinds of rock played nowadays? Our green-growing-friends have evolved differently than humans in this area. If they had a nucleus accumbens, an evolving superior temporal gyrus, and a way to store templates of what has been heard before as humans do, and ears, we’d definitely have a story! An explanation and picture of the brain can be found here.

It’s wonderful to think about how we as unique and complex organisms, and unique and complex plants, respond to art that is so unique and complex. These are some of the areas of growth that fuel my joy for gardening, and I hope yours as well.

Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.

 

Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker