MadSci Network: Botany

Re: Can sound (music) affect how a plant grows? If it does, why?

Area: Botany
Posted By: Dave Williams, faculty,Anne Arundel Community College
Date: Sat Mar 22 20:18:57 1997

I don1t have ready access to any actual research on this subject but I will try to give you my general understanding of it.

Apparently, plants do respond to movement. For example, I have heard that plants which are subjected to a gentle breeze or which are placed on a gently moving surface grow faster and stronger than plants which are kept virtually still. If you think about it, it1s natural for plants in the wild to be subjected to movement by wind on a nearly constant basis. Somehow this movement benefits the plants. If the plants lack this natural movement they don1t thrive.

Sound is also a kind of movement. Sound is created by vibrations in the air. Some types of sound can also set up vibrational movement in the surrounding environment, which might include plants and the tables which they are sitting on. My understanding is that some types of sound do make the plants grow better (faster and stronger). Plants, as I recall what I have read, like stringed instruments and soft music. Quiet classical music is good for plants. They don1t respond well to raucous music. Loud classic al music (the William Tell Overture) or heavy metal rock, for example, will impede the normal growth and development of plants.

It's important to remember that the effect of music is probably not noticeable unless other forms of movement are withheld from the plants.

Admin note:
David Hershey adds the following:

The idea that plants grew better with certain kinds of music apparently arose in the best selling book, "The Secret Life of Plants." That book was filled with incorrect information. Botanists have failed to find that plants grow better or worse with a particular type of music or that music has any effect on plants.

While the stories in "The Secret Life of Plants" are intriguing, they are not based on careful scientific experiemnts. For accurate scientific details on plants try a college botany textbook (Stern, 1991) or popular books on plants written by scientists (Attenborough, 1995; Wilkins, 1988).


Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Stern, K.L. 1991. Introductory Plant Biology. Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown.

Wilkins, M. 1988. Plantwatching: How Plants Remember, Tell Time, Form Relationships and More. New York: Facts on File.

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