Talking to plants is good for plants and also good for yourself. They are the ideal interlocutors. Because “they don’t interrupt when you talk to them, nor do they argue or ask difficult questions,” writes the Washington Post in citing a survey conducted by Trees.com in 2022 according to which 50 percent of the 1,250 respondents reported talking to their plants or trees. But the curious yet interesting fact is that when asked why they do it, 65 percent said they believe it “helps them grow.”
The statement itself is controversial because research has yet to put a dent in this aspect. And while studies have found that vibrations caused by sound affect plants, the jury of researchers is still out on whether the human voice offers any specific benefit in this regard. Although those who own plants and talk to them care little about a more or less scientific response, because communicating with them find it “beautiful” and even “useful” because “they get a sense of community that makes them live better.” After all, people do not only talk to plants, they also chat with dogs and cats. And whether they are better off or not is by no means a given.
On the plant side of the equation, however, a study published in an issue of the journal Ultrasonic in 2003 studied the effects of classical music and the voices of birds, insects and the flow of water on the growth of Chinese cabbage and cucumber. The conclusion was that both forms of sound exposure “increased vegetable growth.”
While in another 2015 study, published in the International Journal of Integrative Sciences, Innovation and Technology, the researchers exposed marigold and chickpea plants to light Indian music and traffic noise and found that both types of plants grew and developed better, gaining height, getting more leaves and looking healthier, after exposure to music for at least four hours a day rather than traffic noise.
“Plants definitely respond to vibrations in their environment, which can cause plants to grow differently and become more resilient as they fall,” says Heidi Appel, professor of environmental science at the University of Toledo in Ohio. “Those vibrations can come from sounds in the air or from insects moving on the plants themselves. And plants will respond differently to tones and music as well as silence.” However, he points out, “Although sound is absolutely important to plants, we don’t know whether talking to them makes them grow differently.”
In any case, despite the lack of studies and evidence on the benefits of talking to your plants, there is at least one theoretical effect: “If we identify with a living organism that we are responsible for taking care of, we will take better care of it,” Appel says. Which is a win-win for everyone, for plants and even for oneself. There is no better thing than pleasure to feel and make anyone feel better.