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Talking To Plants or Getting To The Root Of The Matter

Updated on March 26, 2009

Rusted Root - Send Me On My Way

Blah, Blah, Blah... Grow Dammit!

German Professor, Dr. Gustav Theodor Fechner, was thought of as a fool by many in 1848. Dr. Gustav, was sort of a laughing stock when he first suggested that people should talk to their plants in order to help them grow. Many years later the joke was on the nay-sayers.

He went so far as to write a book called "Nanna" (Soul-life of Plants.) Dr. Fechner went on in his book to explain that plants, like humans, have a central nervous system, and even possesses "emotions." So by this very arguement the Doctor, suggested that humans should try and relate to their plants by talking to them often.

Dr.Charles Darwin (the Origin of Species) agreed in with Fechner's claims, thirty-four years later, by publishing "The Power of Movement in Plants." In which Darwin pointed out the simularities of primates to those of plants. Much later, free- thinking horticulturist Luther Burbank wrote a book called "Training of the Human Plant."  Where he hypothesized that plants may not understand words, but plants could telepathically comprehend what was being said. 

And if talking to your house foliagejust wasn't enough...a New York dentist by the name George Milstein, in 1970 produced a record called "Music to Grow Plants By" this guy was "far-out." Dr. Milstein believed that exposing the plants to soothing music could help them to grow several times faster...dammit! and all this time I've been using Miracle Grow. But guess what those lab stoner's studies had confirmed? That's right! Plants subjected to soft, classical music grew towards the sound, but that plants subjected to hard rock music often withdrew from the music, eventually the plants would wither and die...Later, I'm sure, the test subject was dried, stems and seeds removed; and passed among the scientist in a cigarette form... I maybe wrong about that last part, but in was the 70's and we are talking about letting plants listen to music and plant-life telepathy.

In the 1970's, you macramé twisting, folks from across the world talked to your  plants in order to help them grow, bigger, lusher, and greener.  There are many green thumbs and thumbers who swear by plant-chatting even today. Yeah keep on believing that twisty-puff-puff.

Q) So What's Your Sign? ... A) Moderate Water and Plenty Of Light.

In a 1986 interview, England’s Prince Charles, the voice of all thing reasonable, discussed his gardening habits, claiming "I just come and talk to the plants, really. Very important to talk to them; they respond."

"There isn’t a lot of research in this area," said Rich Marini, head of Penn State’s horticulture department, "But there is evidence that plants respond to sound." In fact, plants react readily to a host of environmental stimuli, as the ability to respond to changing environments is vital to their survival. Explained Marini, "Wind or vibration will induce changes in plant growth. Since sound is essentially vibration, my guess is that vibration is causing a response."

Research supports Marini's guess. A 2007 paper from scientists at South Korea's National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology proposed that two genes involved in a plant’s response to light are turned on by music played at 70 decibels. "This is about the level of a normal conversation," said Marini. The Korean researchers found differing responses depending on the frequency of the sound. The higher the frequency, the more active was the gene response.

Regarding why plants would have evolved to respond to vibration in the first place, Marini speculated that it may have occurred as a way to help them survive in windy environments. "Plants exposed to wind produce a growth-retardant hormone called ethylene, which causes the plant to be shorter and to have thicker stems. So plants exposed to wind can better survive very windy conditions."

As to the popular CO2 theory... that plants respond to the carbon dioxide produced by human speech, Marini isn't buying it. "Carbon dioxide levels do influence the rate of plant photosynthesis," he explained, but "people would have to speak to their plants for at least several hours a day to enhance photosynthesis enough to influence plant growth."

Hothouse Flowers -Don't Go

Look! It's A Bloomin' Idiot

In an episode of the TV show Mythbusters... The main characters conducted an experiment based on talking to house plants and their findings were positive. They found that the plants that were talked to nicely actually did much better than the plant that were left "silent," but their finding also noticed that plants that were talked to angrilyalso had positive growing results. So, they concluded that any talking was better than none at all.

The Mythbusters also subjested plants to music...finding the plants that had classical music played to them did much better than the plants with heavy metal blaring, Now is that science fact or controlled atomosphere at play?

Carbon dioxide enrichment is used extensively in horticultural greenhouse applications to get better growth from crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Its pretty cool stuff that goes into achieving high quality/high yield in the greenhouse. But don't you think it would take a lot more CO2 than just talking to your plants to make them flourish? I mean we are comparing soil enrichment.. not a bunch of folks whispering sweet insencre "I love you's" to green house flora.

Yes, plants need carbon dioxide, which you breath out when you talk. It's an important part of the photosynthesis reaction, during which they acquire the food/energy they need to grow and live. The only problem are the quantities involved. In order to make much difference, the plants would have to be CO2 deficient and you would have to talk to your plant for several hours and at very close range (because it's a gas, CO2 diffuses VERY rapidly).

Greenhouses do sometimes add CO2 to the air, but generally these operations are fairly well sealed to keep pests out and humidity high. The thousands of plants in the closed greenhouses use a much higher percentage of the CO2 in the air compared to the almost 0% that houseplants use..

Sweet Talk Or Just A lot Of Hot Air?

As to why plants respond to vibration in the first place? Don't all living things respond to good vibrations?

Of course, all the good vibrations in the world aren’t going to help the plants if people forget to water them. The best thing anyone can do to help their plants grow is provide them with light, water, and plant food. While the studies suggest that sound may spur plants to faster growth, there is no definitive evidence that a gift of gab will turn people into green thumbs.

Ideal conditions for growth have more to do with temperature than talk. But if you want to whisper sweet nothings to your begonias, well, nobody's stopping you.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    la morena 

    7 years ago

    your right plants really grown when you tlk 2 dem

  • Enlydia Listener profile image

    Enlydia Listener 

    8 years ago from trailer in the country

    the nice thing is you can tell them your secrets and they won't repeat it,

    I think...

  • Moulik Mistry profile image

    Moulik Mistry 

    8 years ago from Burdwan, West Bengal, India

    Simply fantastic write-up, a trend-setter indeed...

  • RGraf profile image

    Rebecca Graf 

    9 years ago from Wisconsin

    Very interesting. Maybe that is what I'm doing wrong. :)

  • RooBee profile image

    Arby Bourne 

    9 years ago from USA

    Jeez, what a fan-frigging-tastic hub - seriously. So very thorough, thoughtful, well-written, funny - totally delivering all the goods! I talk to my plants sometimes, and I think we have a pretty good understanding. Gotta go become your fan now. *whooshing sound as RooBee dashes for gathering place of St. James fans*

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    If it works and your plants grow..... who's to judge

  • queen cleopatra profile image

    Roselyn Mendoza 

    9 years ago from Philippines

    I talk to my plants whenever I'm watering them. I'm like a mother fussing to her children whenever I'm inspecting every leaf, every branch, and the roots. My neighbors thought I'm going nuts but I don't care because my plants keep on giving me fresh flowers and veggie fruits. I'm glad to find lots of plant talkers here :D

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Joarline... anything that can make your garden grow will work!

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Lately, Az. is so windy, my plants cant hear me talking to them. Music (my bag) is always present. Thanks JO

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Thank you for your input CountryWomen. Yes, sending and feeling positive vibes have lately been shown to be important to feeling good, and being well. Talking to the plant just maybe theraputic... for the simple act of unburdening yourself.

    None the less there are thing all round us that we can not explain, but they do exist. Who are we to explain them?

  • countrywomen profile image


    9 years ago from Washington, USA

    Well there are many dimensions of which we may not yet be totally aware as of now. Sometimes in the presence of positive vibes from a energy source (i.e, say humans) it can even spread around to those around it. There have been kirlian/Aura photographs which have taken these photos but they are not yet considered as a science in a broader understanding as of now.

    But anyway it doesn't hurt to talk to plants and who knows one day we may be able to interpret its subtle language too..LOL

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Einron..Judging by comments made, I would suggest amybe a little coffee-talk with your plants.

    Jerilee... I guess grnny knows best. I still believe water, sunlight, and plant food may still be the way to go. But I'm know expert.

    Thank you both for joining in. Its much appreciated.

  • Jerilee Wei profile image

    Jerilee Wei 

    9 years ago from United States

    Having planted 72 tomato plants you've not got me wondering if I have to speak to them individually or as a group? This better not keep me awake at night pondering upon all the "what ifs." Actually, I've always talked to my plants, learned that from my grandmother. Worked for both of us.

  • einron profile image


    9 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

    I have heard this some time ago but I do not talk to them. Maybe that's why my plants do not thrive. My sister has a greener thumb.

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    VladmirUhri...very good point, contact with your higher power, and emotinal, mental states are very important. Thank you for sharing such important points.

    MistyHorizon... You point is very valid. Charles Darwin pointed out that plnts do have a primative nervous system. So I would imagine contact would be important. All living things do need contact and to feel.

  • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

    Cindy Lawson 

    9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

    No joke, but plants also like to be stroked and touched apparently. I think it has something to do with the fact this imitates wind and therefore encourages them to grow stronger stems etc to give more support in windy weather.

  • Vladimir Uhri profile image

    Vladimir Uhri 

    9 years ago from HubPages, FB

    I must agree with talking to the plants. Interesting article. Just do not forget to talk to you Creator - God. He is good.

    One may also speak to his her body and talk health to it.

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Rich_Id... I will have to checkout your work (though I don't know much about children) and I do need to read "The Secret Life of Plants" Thank you for taking the time.

    Amy G... I have heard of the expression "growing like weeds" when to comes to kids. Sounds like you have one tough plant... maybe a little plant food in the water?

    BlondePoet... I look forward to your finding. It just may prove that even plsnts want your attention.

  • blondepoet profile image


    9 years ago from australia

    St.James there may be something in this. I have one pot plant that has not died yet, which sits on my front veranda. I will go introduce myself in the morning and pledge to speak to him/her for a few minutes each afternoon.I will log all results and in a few weeks I will let you know if this is a goer. I am open to all possibilities.Thumbs up St.James for another great hub, it certainly has spurred me to give this ago. I certainly do not have a green thumb so............

  • profile image

    Amy G 

    9 years ago

    Great hub. I think this may be the reason my kids are growing, too. I talk to them once a day for five minutes. J/K! I really only talk to my plants because nobody else listens to me. I have one plant that is barely hanging on - but he's a fighter. Maybe I'll sing him a song...

    Thanks for the read! :D

  • Rich_Id profile image


    9 years ago from Seattle

    Have you read, "The Secret Life of Plants"? There is so much more than meets the eye. We all come from Hydrogen at the time of the big bang.

    I see that you are a prolific writer on many topics. I'd love you to review a couple of my pages and get your feedback.

    I have been writing primarily about parenting.

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    All living things need attention. Thank G-Ma for giving us the dirt on your green thumb.

  • G-Ma Johnson profile image

    Merle Ann Johnson 

    9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

    I also talk to my cat and my fish...guess I need to be more friendly to my plants...seems they aren't all that happy right now???Thanks for the good advice and wonderful plants...G-Ma :O) Hugs & Peace

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Laughing Mom, I'm sure there are a few "solutions..."

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Its all about plant telepathy Rochelle. Mentally make contact with your plants. Oh and the right amount of light and water. If you have a bright living space, you wouldn't want a plant that likes low light.

    Thank you to all who posted above

  • Laughing Mom profile image

    Laughing Mom 

    9 years ago

    Oh my! What would you feed her??!? Nevermind. I don't want to know. :-)

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Laughing Mom... Audry II would be the only plant I could keep alive. I always seem to choose the wrong plant for my living space. Too much light, not enough know.

    Mayhmong.. I think its wrong choice in plants, not your banter.

  • Rochelle Frank profile image

    Rochelle Frank 

    9 years ago from California Gold Country

    It's probably best not to talk to the carniverous plants. I love my vegetable garden and it seems to do well with more action than talk, but my houseplants do seem to suffer. I need to get them an e-mail address.

  • mayhmong profile image


    9 years ago from North Carolina

    That's interestiing, no wonder none of our plants would stay alive! Guess I gotta sweet talk it the way I do with my cats or put it right next to my radio on the classical station.

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Well Misty plants are a wonderful addition to any room. The CO2 is just pure science. I just remember the whole fad from the 70's so I ehought I could put it to good use.

    Thank for getting to the root of the matter.

  • Laughing Mom profile image

    Laughing Mom 

    9 years ago

    Talking, perfect conditions...neither make mine grow.

    "Little Shop of Horrors" is a fun movie. The picture you included made me smile.

  • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

    Cindy Lawson 

    9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

    Really good stuff here. I grow loads of plants, but have always believed talking to them only helped because of the Carbon Dioxide we breathe out. Thesedays I rarely talk to them anyway, and they still thrive, so I guess your information is proven to be correct. (Never tried the music idea though!!)

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Its all OK until they answer you back. Thanks Teresa

  • Teresa McGurk profile image


    9 years ago from The Other Bangor

    I've always spoken to my plants. But then, I've also always spoken to the furniture and the light fixtures, too.


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