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Caffeine and Plant Growth

Updated on March 10, 2014

Background

During freshman year, I got the opportunity to test the effects of caffeine on the growth of plants, more specifically soybean plants.

Why did i choose this topic?

Caffeine is actually the world's most widely consumed drug, and so I wanted to see how it affected the growth of living organisms. Since I couldn't do humans or anything with a vertebrate, I had to use the next best thing: plants.

Did I end up learning anything?

Of course. And my project did pretty well, making it a win-win.

Materials

Obviously, a project of this caliber requires a massive amount of preparation. Kidding. But you will need:

  • ~12 Soybean seeds (I used organic ones, but any type of fast-growing seeds will do)
  • Strong light source (sunlight if you have it, I used a terrarium)
  • Potting soil
  • Containers to plant the seeds (depending on the amount of seeds you have)
  • Graduated cylinder (for accurate liquid measurements)
  • Clean water
  • Ruler
  • Caffeine powder or tablets (I used Jet-Alert)
  • Notebook (to record results)

Procedure

Time to get started, kids. Begin by...

  1. Germinate the seeds. Place them in a bowl, covered, and add a very small amount of water just so they're damp. Poor put the excess water and repeat every other day. After about a week, they'll start to sprout.
  2. Once they've sprouted, add potting soil to the containers. Dig a small hole around an inch deep in each one.
  3. Place one germinated seed in each hole and cover with loose soil.
  4. Water with 10 mL of water everyday until they sprout.
  5. Once they've sprouted, you need to create a caffeine mixture to water them with. I chose:
  • 300 mg (to represent the amount the average American consumes per day)
  • 150 mg (to represent the amount found in a 12 oz. cup of coffee)
  • 80 mg (to represent the amount found in a "Red Bull" energy drink)
  • 0 mg (control)
Mix the desired amounts of caffeine with 15 mL of water and give it to the plants everyday. Measure everyday and record the results. Yay your basically done.


How Do You Compare

Do You Drink Caffeine?

See results

Data

Days
Plant Given: 300 mg
Plant Given: 150 mg
Plant Given: 80 mg
Plant Given: 0 mg (Control 1)
Plant Given: 0 mg (Control 2)
1
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
0
3
0
0
0
0
0
4
0
0
0
0
0
5
0
0
0
0
0
6
0
0
0
0
0
7
0
0
0
0
0
8
0
0.5
0.5
0.5
0.5
9
0.5
1
1.7
2
1.9
10
1
1.7
3.4
3.6
3.8
11
2
3
5
5.4
5.5
12
2
3
5
6.5
6
13
2
3
5
7.2
7.5
14
2
3
5
8.5
8.5
15
2
3
5
9.7
9.5
16
2
3
5
10.5
10.5
17
2
3
5
12
11
The Height is in Centimeters. Watering with caffeine began on the ninth day.
These were given caffeine. Poor plants.
These were given caffeine. Poor plants.

What Does Caffeine Do?

  • Wards of Fatigue
  • Raises Attention
  • Natural Pesticide
  • Elevates Heart Rate
  • Creates a Minor Addiction

Conclusion

As most would guess, caffeine did indeed stunt the growth of the bean plants. In plants, caffeine slows the division of cells in the roots, thus making it harder for the plant to grow. Also, it inhibits the absorption of minerals.

So should you drink it?


Maybe, while there are a few studies on lab rats, it technically does affect humans differently. Not saying that you should binge eat pills, but when you're feeling groggy, why not grab a cup o' joe.

More Information On Caffeine

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    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 21 months ago from Malaysia

      Interesting lab test. I use used tea bags to sprinkle the tea leaves around the plant and use diluted tea to water the plant. It grows well and tea have caffeine? Try and reduce the strength of your caffeine in your next lab test :-)