Classical & Rock Music for Plants: Do plants like music?

There’s plenty of research on this matter, with more or less consistent results. Some say classical music is the best music for plants, while others tend to agree any type will yield the same results as long as it’s within acceptable noise levels. We decided to put the many theories on the effect of music on plants growth to the test.

Therefore, we conducted our own experiment on our own greenery to find out what kind of music do plants like. Read on to see how we did it, what plants we used, and how we measured the impact of music on plants. You can also use the illustrated results below to check out our results:

music for plants - a 4-week experiment by YouHadMeAtGardening

Does Music Help Plants Grow? Here’s the Research:

It’s generally well-accepted that music affects plant growth and health and we also know why:

  • Certain sound frequencies stimulate the movement of cytoplasm in the plants’ cells, which boosts metabolism and, therefore, growth.
  • Sound also influences the opening and closing of stomata – the tiny pores that act like primitive lungs on plants. Music helps a stoma stay open for longer, thus taking in more air and growing faster.
  • Some sound frequencies activate genes that speed up plant growth.

Further research on the type of music for plants and sound frequency concluded to the following results:

  • Classical music made plants grow better, bushier, and greener, with healthier stems.
  • Jazz music also accelerated growth and made plants fuller.
  • Heavy metal music, together with new age and Celtic tunes increase both plant mass AND fruit taste.
  • Country and western music for plants had no effects on development.
  • Noisy rock music damages plants in the same way excess water or heavy winds do.

Previous Studies & Experiments on Music and Plant Growth

Here’s a short rundown of some previous experiments on the effects of music for plants:


 

Advances in Effects of Sound Waves on Plants

These experiments have been conducted both on open field cultures and greenhouse plants using various levels of sound pressure and frequencies. Research was coordinated by Reda HE Hassanien, Tian-Zhen HOU, Yu-Feng LI, and Bao-Ming LI and findings were published in the Journal of Integrative Agriculture.

Findings:

Sound waves of 100 dB and 1 kHz played for one hour at a distance of 0.2 meters (7.8 inches):

  • Sped up division and cell wall fluidity in callus cells. Researchers also noticed the activity of endogenous hormones and protective enzymes has been enhanced.
  • The same sound waves also increased sugar and soluble protein contents.

Sound waves of 0.1 to 1 kHz and 65-75 dB played for 3 hours every 2 days from a distance of 30 to 60 meters (98.5 to 197 feet):

Significantly increased yield, as follows:

    • Cucumber by 37.1%.
    • Sweet pepper by 30.5%.
    • Cotton by 22.7%.
    • Lettuce by 19.6%.
    • Spinach by 19.6%.
    • Wheat by 17%.
    • Tomato by 13.2%.
    • Rice by 11.4%.

Strengthened plants’ immune systems and decreased the incidence of pests and diseases as follows:

      • Sheath blight of rice by 50%.
      • Late blight by 11%.
      • Gray mold by 9%.
      • Aphids by 8%.
      • Virus disease in tomatoes by 8%.
      • Spider mites by 6%.
Dr. T. C. Singh's Experiments on Plants and Music (1962)

Dr. Singh worked at Annamalai University as head of the Botany Department in 1962 when he decided to test the effect of music on plants.

He used balsam plants (Impatiens glandulifera) and initially chose classical music; later on, he tried out raga music played on different instruments (flute, violin, harmonium, and reena, an Indian instrument Google knows absolutely nothing about from the looks of it). He later repeated the experiment with local field crops using gramophones and loudspeakers.

Findings:

  • Balsam plants grow 20% faster in height and 72% in biomass when listening to music.
  • Crop height and overall size increased with 25% to 60%.
  • Violin was the most effective in boosting growth among all instruments he tried out.
Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose's Science Experiments on Plants (early 1900s)

Sir Bose, famous polymath (physicist, biologist, biophysicist, botanist, archaeologist), spend his life studying how plants respond to environmental variables. Naturally, his research also touched upon the effect of music on plants.

Findings:

  • Plants are, indeed, sensitive to sounds and generally grow better when exposed to them.
  • Plants also react to the attitude with which they are nurtured.

You can review the complete documentation of these extensive studies in Response in the Living and Non-Living (1902) and The Nervous Mechanism of Plants (1926).


Therefore, it’s safe to assume there is a scientific basis to the effect of music on plant growth. Now, let’s see how some of the most popular indoor plants are affected by music!

Music and Plant Growth: Experiment Plan

Start date: February 15, 2019

End date: March 15, 2019

Okay, so all the research we found online got us really hyped – according to what we’ve read so far, sound definitely has an impact on growth. But can it really make or break a houseplant? That’s what we want to find out!

We’ve got three groups, each comprised of six plants in very similar developmental stages:

Heavy Metal Group (the angry ones)
rock music for plants - group 1
Classical Music Group (the fancy ones)
classical music for plants group
Control Group (the normies)
conrol group

Two of the groups will be exposed to heavy metal and classical music 4 hours per day during maximum light exposure, meaning anytime between 9:30 AM and 3:00 PM.

The Plants

Asplenium Nidus (Bird’s Nest Fern)

  • Bright, indirect light
  • High air humidity
  • Permanently moist soil

asplenium nidus - plant experiment

Fittonia Albivenis (Nerve Plant)

  • Bright, indirect light
  • Medium to high air humidity
  • Moderate watering

Fittonia Albivenis Nerve Plant

Maranta Leuconeura (Prayer Plant)

  • Bright, indirect light
  • Medium to high air humidity
  • Moderate watering

Prayer Plant experiment group

Epipremnum Aureum (Golden Pothos)

  • Shade to full sun
  • Low to high air humidity
  • Moderate watering

golden photos - music for plants experiment

Crassula Ovata (Jade Tree)

  • Bright, indirect light to full sun
  • Low to medium air humidity
  • Reduced watering

Crassula Ovata - Jade Tree

Echinocactus Grusonii (Barrel Cactus)

  • Bright, indirect light to full sun
  • Low to medium air humidity
  • Reduced watering

barrel cactus - music for plants experimentThe Music

For this experiment on plants and music, we’ve curated the following playlists for our angry outcasts and fancy groups:

ROCK PLAYLIST

CLASSICAL PLAYLIST

I used Spek to analyze the frequency and volume of the music to make sure it doesn’t reach unhealthy levels for our plants.

The Setup

This took us a while to figure out as the three groups of plants need to have identical or very similar environments.

We’ve ultimately decided to isolate the three groups using three glass showcases and set them up in a 3rd-floor office, in a North-East facing window.

I’ve repotted the aspleniums, fittonias, marantas, and epipremnums on February 11th (4 days before starting the experiment) and placed them in their showcases to give them some time to get accustomed to their new environments. The jade trees and the cacti can handle another few months in their current pots, so I’ve postponed their repot for a bit.

I used Pokon potting soil and clay pellets for drainage. I chose Santino pots because I’m pretty happy with how my own houseplants behave after potting them in such planters.

Care

Watering the Aspleniums, Fittonias, Marantas, and Epipremnums once per week has proven optimal so far. I estimate the jade trees and cacti will need watering once every 2 to 4 weeks.

Measuring Progress

We’ll measure the following aspects once a week:

  • Plant height
  • New leaves
  • Lost leaves
  • Number of plant babies
  Asplenium NidusFittonia AlbivenisEpipremnum AureumMaranta LeuconeuraCrassula OvataEchinocactus Grusonii
RockClassicalControlRockClassicalControlRockClassicalControlRockClassicalControlRockClassicalControlRockClassicalControl
Day 1
(February 15)
Height768.55.54.55.588977.5954.743.83.84
Leaf Count786782645869151617131013496054---
Plants3237109565435333111

So, Does Music Help Plants Grow After All?

Short answer is, yes – but it really depends on the type of music and the plants, too!

Check out the weekly progress of our experiment on the effect of music on plant growth here or scroll down to see our findings after the whole experiment:

The Effect of Rock Music on Plant Growth

The effects of rock music are overall better than I initially expected – even though most plants preferred classical music, most of our angry outcasts did better than their brothers and sisters in the control group. The only exception to this were the Aspleniums which, surprisingly, grew much better in complete silence.

  • The Asplenium listening to rock music started off with 78 leaves and ended up with 81 leaves total, way lower than the growth registered by the Asplenium in the control group (25 extra leaves) and the one in the classical music group (16 extra leaves). Therefore, according to our Aspleniums, silence is the best music for plants.

Music for plants experiment -Asplenium Nidus

  • The Fittonia in the rock music group ended up with 12 extra leaves and 1.5 inches in height – way better than the control group which only gained 4 new leaves and 1 inch in height during this month. However, it doesn’t stand a chance to the one listening to classical music which grew a whopping 16 new leaves!

Music for plants experiment - Fittonia Albivenis

  • The Epipremnum that listened to rock music registered the most progress – 6 new leaves and 1.5 extra inches on its longest stem. If it were only up to our pothos plants, we’d declare rock as the best music for plants!

Epipremnum Aureum plant experiment

  • Marantas give us a textbook example of how music helps plants grow no matter the type – the one listening to rock music unfurled 5 new leaves during this past month and its longest stem grew 1 inch in length. This progress is similar to the one registered by the prayer plant listening to classical music but way better than the one in the control group.

Maranta Leuconeura experiment

  • The jade tree listening to rock music is doing the worst of all – it only has one extra leaf and, although it tried to grow more new ones, they were dropping like crazy during the last two weeks of our experiment.

Jade tree music for plants experiment results

  • The cactus in the rock music group shows the same progress as the one in the classical music group. The one in the control group stagnated.

The Effect of Classical Music on Plant Growth

Overall, our experiment confirms yet again that classical music is the best music for plant growth. Even though there have been some ups and downs for some of the plants listening to classical music, their evolution has been the most consistent and noteworthy.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that rock music is not as harmful as previously thought – in fact, in many cases, the plants listening to rock music did way better than the ones in the control group.

  • The bird’s nest fern listening to classical music is doing better than the one listening to rock music but doesn’t stand a chance to the one in the control group which is simply thriving.
  • The Fittonias prove that classical music is the best music for plant growth – the one in the fancy group grew 16 new leaves and 1.2 inches in height, while the one in the control group only popped up 4 new leaves and grew 1 inch in height.
  • The Epipremnum listening to classical music grew 1.5 inches in height and popped up 4 new leaves. This doesn’t hold a chance when compared to the one in the rock music group but it’s still better than the one in the control group.
  • Our prayer plants are giving us textbook results – the one listening to classical music popped up 6 new leaves and grew 1.5 inches in length over the last month, a bit better than the one in the rock music group and way better than the control plant.
  • The jade tree listening to classical music is doing a bit better than the one in the rock music group with 0.3 extra inches in height and 6 new leaves but still can’t compare to the one in the control group (0.5 extra inches and 8 new leaves).
  • The cactus listening to classical music registered the same growth as the one in the rock music group; the one in the control group stagnated.

Conclusion

Even though both classical and rock music stimulate plant growth and health, the winner seems to be classical music due to the speedy growth it promoted in most of the plants. Nevertheless, the plants listening to rock music had the smallest incidence of yellowing, browning, or dry leaves, which might mean that rock music offers a steadier and healthier, albeit slower growth than classical music does.

More Sources & Studies on Music and Plant Growth:

  • Advances in Effects of Sound Waves on Plants, Reda HE Hassanien, Tian-Zhen HOU, Yu-Feng LI, Bao-Ming LI, Science Direct
  • Effect of Different Types of Music on Rosa Chinensis Plants, Vidya Chivukula and Shivaraman Ramaswamy, Semantic Scholar
  • Does Music Affect Plant Growth? Explore the Untold Truth, Medha Godbole, Gardenerdy
  • Studies Regarding the Influence of Music on the Wheat Plants Growth, Mihai Adrian Rachieru, Irina Iacob, Maria Cristea, University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest 
  • The Effect of Music on Plant Growth and Pests, Sanjay Sharma, Owlcation 
  • Effects of Musical Sound on the Germination of Seeds, Katherine Creath, University of Arizona 
  • The Myth of Absolute Science, Linda Chalker-Scott, Washington State University 
  • The Effect of Music on Plant Growth, Mazlan, DenGarden 
  • Music And Plant Growth: Learn The Effects Of Music On Plant Growth, Mary H. Dyer, Gardening Know How 
  • Influence of Music on Plants, D. Kroeze, Canna Gardening
  • The Story of How Jagdish Chandra Bose Proved Plants Have Life, Sanchari Pal, The Better India
  • Effect of Music on Plants – An Overview, Anindita Roy Chowdhury and Anshu Gupta, Research Gate 
  • The Pseudoscientific World of Plant Music, author unlisted, Duke University 
About the Author - Florina Ionescu

Hi! My name is Florina and I’ve been a plant junkie for 4 years now. I love nature, hiking, reading, watching movies, and spending time with my friends and my cat. I’m also very enthusiastic about the World Wide Web – I think it’s an amazing source of info and a great channel for communication.

SEND AN E-MAIL TO THE AUTHOR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *