There is an orchid plant that lives on my kitchen windowsill. For the first two years in my care, she produced two flowers a year. When it comes to house plants, I am more brown- than green-thumbed, so this performance exceeded my expectations. I put it down to sheer luck (mine) and some serious willpower (the orchid’s). I was grateful for this two-flower miracle that survived despite my lack of gardening knowhow.
But last year was an anomaly. Like many of us, I spent many iso hours cooking, baking, singing and talking in the kitchen.
This meant my orchid was the recipient of an exponential amount of companionship and attention. She responded by producing 13 glorious flowers between May and October. I hadn’t upskilled, I was just there more, I noticed her more, and yes, I may have directed some conversation her way. But did her blossoming really have anything to do with my presence? Had she been responding to my voice?
“Plants probably don’t hear like we do,” says Dr Dominique Hes, biophilia expert and lead researcher at Horticulture Innovation Australia’s Plant Life Balance. “But some research shows that speaking nicely to plants will support their growth, whereas yelling at them won’t. Rather than the meaning of words, however, this may have more to do with vibrations and volume. Plants react favourably to low levels of vibrations, around 115-250hz being ideal.”
Perhaps it was a combination of my dulcet tones and my taste in music? Could these good vibrations explain my orchid’s sudden vigour?
“Smithsonian and Nasa show that mild vibrations increase growth in plants while harsher, stronger vibrations have a negative effect,” Dr Hes explains. “The vibrations improve communication and photosynthesis, which improves growth and the ability to fight infection. You could say the plants are happy!”
Happy plants are also important to Rachel Okell, horticulturist and founder of the Sydney-based plant consultancy business Our Green Sanctuary. “I often talk to my plants when I’m looking at them,” she says. “I get excited when there is new growth – it means they are happy and I’m doing all the right things.”
So, if your dracaena is drooping dramatically like a sullen teenager, would gentle encouragement make any difference?
Dr Hes says: “I think relationships are key here, whether it is how you speak, or you notice they need water, or new soil, or nutrients. Tone is also important, given they respond to vibrations.”
When it comes to our relationship with plants, Tim Pickles, horticulturist and owner of Tim’s Garden Centre in Campbelltown, south-western Sydney, certainly witnessed a shift last year. “People are falling in love with gardens,” he says. “They are looking for something to nurture and to love.”
Pickles believes the slower pace of 2020 gifted us with more time to think and breathe, making us more aware and more observant of what is around us.
Pickles’ theory may explain my orchid’s enthusiasm. Is she thriving because I’m talking to her, or simply because I am more attentive to her needs? With overwatering being one of the leading causes of death for houseplants, perhaps being home more has allowed me to notice, rather than to reach for the watering can in a hasty attempt to be a responsible plant parent.
Whether or not we believe that plants benefit from conversation, we cannot deny that there’s something in it for us. The therapeutic effects of plants and gardening have been widely documented – benefits include boosting our mood, sharpening our focus and lowering our stress levels.
But what if the idea of chatting to your plant-children feels like eccentric behaviour?
“If you look at the science, the vibrations, the biophilic connection and relationship building, then for me it is clear that spending time with plants is worthwhile,” Hes says. “For some that is talking, for some it is playing music, for some it is just quietly having them with us as we work and relax.”
Okell agrees. She is reaping the benefits of her practice of caring for plants. “The routine of checking, dusting, rotating and watering my plants is meditative,” she says. “It has helped me remain calm and stay focused on the moment. There is also a sense of achievement when your plants flourish under your care. It’s so rewarding.”
As we edge into 2021, my orchid is still thriving. And because my fingers are not yet green, I can only attribute this to our daily interactions: the adoring looks, the greetings and check-ins, and the attention (both intentional and incidental). She listens in on my telephone conversations and is often my only audience for pre-dinner renditions of I Will Survive. She doesn’t join in, my orchid, but I think she’s feeling the love. I know I am.
Here are the most fascinating parts of Jean Thoby’s recent book (www.plantarium.eco) ‘Le Chant Secret des Plantes‘ (Rustica editions, Paris. 2019). The subtitle reads ‘Refreshing oneself thanks to plant music’. Summaries by Henk Kieft.
Jean is a widely recognized ornamental plant grower. After many years of innovation, he now focuses with his partner Frederique and his company on growing music-sensitive plants. In his book he goes deeply into his discoveries in the musical character of plants. As far as I know, this is the first practical book on this subject. He uses his musical experiences with the Music-of-the-Plants device (see www.MusicofthePlants.com ). He actively collaborates with Genodics researchers on protein music (see www.genodics.com ), which concerns biological principles based on quantum physics. And he uses the general knowledge about the plant as an electrical phenomenon. I have explained all these techniques in my book ‘Quantum Leaps in Agriculture, exploring quantum principles in farming, gardening and nature’ (see elsewhere on my website).
But Jean has, much more than I have, experimented with the healing effect of this music. And after years of listening to all kinds of plants – often hours a day – he is much further in interpreting this music. He connects to very recent – and sometimes even more than a century old – research in phytoneurology, which he describes as ‘the analysis of the electrical signals of plants’.
Several doctors are pleasantly surprised by the special effects of plant music on people’s health. Together with these doctors he started to convert his experiences into practical music therapy. And he documents as many experiences as possible, so that researchers can later use these results to better understand these phenomena scientifically. Finally, he explores future application possibilities, also relevant for agriculture, horticulture and forestry.
And he organized the first (in Paris in 2017) and organises the second International Festival of Plant Music (11-16 August 2020, at Chateau de Gaujacq in the south-east of France). In short: something is happening there!
Few people read French easily. That’s why – with Jean’s explicit agreement – I’m going to summarise some of his most innovative insights for readers on my website.
Root tips respond to sound
Italian researcher Stefano Mancuso has shown that carrot tips not only move in the direction of water, but also in the direction of the sound of water. And as soon as one root tip does it, other tips start to grow in that direction as well. Root tips apparently are essential for plants to pick up information from the world around them. So, in his nursery he has radically stopped pruning root systems. Especially annuals react very well to this measure.
Although plants cannot move to orientate themselves in their environment, it seems that – during evolution – plants have found another way, namely permanent communication with other trees and with the environment. There is little as strongly connected to the environment as vegetation is. Here may be a reason why a tree of 4 meters high can have up to 200 hectares of contact with the air. The root system has an enormous contact surface with the soil as well.
These facts serve something else as well. Researchers, among others in Japan, have been exploring for years how receiving – and emitting – electromagnetic waves through tree roots can be used in predicting earthquakes two days before the earth physically shakes. The growing tension in the earth’s crust is ‘observed’ by the tree roots and we can observe and measure the changes in that tension. Those roots can go deep. Cavers – investigating deep caverns – have even observed living roots of an oak species at a depth of 160 meters.
The musical alphabet of the living
This alphabet of life does not have 26 ‘letters’ but 22 amino acids, or more precisely the sound frequencies that match these 22 amino acids. Each protein has its own combination of amino acids and thus its own combination of frequencies … its own melody. So, everything that can produce proteins transmits melodies inside the cell, and outside the cell as well: melodies of the proteins that are in production at that moment of the growth cycle.
By now the melodies of about 5000 proteins are known. And herein lies the secret of the Genodics method. Plants appear to be sensitive to the frequencies – the melodies – that come from outside and penetrate the plant. And the same goes for insects and higher animals, all of which also contain proteins. With this technique every plant grower and every farmer and forester can promote the production of desired proteins.
These frequencies are much higher than what we humans can hear. Humans are actually a rather deaf phenomenon, we can observe frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hertz (Hz) while the formation of proteins is controlled by frequencies in the order of 20 zeros more, so a hundred times a billion times a billion times higher. Inaudible to our ears. How is it then possible that the audible music of Genodics still works on plants and animals (and people)? This is because of musical laws: take a basic tone of say 400 Hz. So, one octave higher counts 800 Hz and another octave higher counts 1600 Hz and so on. Those octaves resonate in harmony with each other and amplify each other. And this law goes on up to the highest overtones, so audible music also works in the formation of proteins.
Protein music examples
For example, the protein Apetala stimulates the setting of flowers. And the melody of Apetala also does this very convincingly. In Gardenia and Camellia, this music has multiplied flower formation.
Here Thoby plays with the idea that plants have developed on earth for more than 450 million years and have constantly absorbed all kinds of vibrations of the universe. So, they must have tuned in to vibrations. A nice example is the well-known melody ‘O solo mio’, which according to the composers Eduardo di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi is set to music in a field full of sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) because this melody contains a series of notes that occur in the metabolism of the sunflower, namely in the formation of the protein ATP6.
And how do you explain that certain music by Pachelbel reduces stress? Because the 8 notes in that melody correspond to the same sequence of notes in GTPase, which is known to reduce stress. He even refers to the French national anthem, the ‘Marseillaise’, with its rather bloodcurdling text. Something like ‘the blood of the enemy will flow in the furrows of our fields’. This melody helps the blood coagulate. So, if some plant wounded your fingers, then sing or hum the Marseillaise melody.
Or ‘Le printemps’ by Vivaldi that stimulates the release of milk in cows. Via a trip to the giraffe he continues with the same principle for grass and cows. The example is known that acacia’s in Southern Africa at some point produce a poison that the giraffe hates. This happens especially during drought periods, when the pressure of the animals on the acacia becomes too great. Because of this toxin the giraffes move elsewhere and so the pressure on the acacia decreases. According to Jean, this phenomenon can also be applied to grass and cows. In evolution, the family of grasses originated late, about 80 million years ago (ferns that have been around for at least 450 million years). That is why the grasses have developed far fewer ways of dealing with their environment of fungi or insects – or with cows. Yet something similar happens in grasses that are being overgrazed. They then develop such a bitter taste that the cows hardly eat it anymore. ‘The grass decides whether it wants to be eaten’, Thoby concludes. This also provides an explanation for the bad mood of cows in overgrazed or impoverished pastures.
The ethical question of technology
In the end, Thoby can no longer deny the ethical question: what do we do to nature with this technical intervention, even when it is such a sympathetic thing as music. Is that really responsible? Then he gets an article that directly resolves his doubts: the phenomenon occurs in nature in general. It has been documented, for example, by Pierre Lavange on whales (www.shelltonewhaleproject.org/le-lien-perdu ). Some whales sang in the vicinity of phytoplankton just before feeding on it. Analysis of this plankton showed that the protein content was higher than in unsung plankton. Lavange also mentions that only the mother whales with baby were ‘allowed’ to eat this plankton. Actually, the whole of nature functions by means of vibrations, he concludes.
Listening tips and learning points
Thoby also lists a number of advices for a good ‘plant music session’.
– be calm and attentive yourself
– be open and receptive
– provide a quiet environment, preferably without passing traffic
– be relaxed: it doesn’t work if you’re busy with yourself or if you expect too many results.
He noticed that plants sometimes just don’t make music when your mind is busy with very different things.
Each plant has its own ‘fingerprint’
With some experience – says Thoby – you can recognize a plant by the first notes of the music. The first series of tones of the same plant is always the same. Only after a few seconds other tones are being added. So, there is a specific vibration pattern for each plant family. Within a family it becomes much harder to recognize the difference, but Thoby and Georges Simmonds, researcher of the French national agricultural research institute INRA, trust that – with the help of computers – the pattern of each cultivar could eventually be recognized. So, each plant species, each cultivar, has its own characteristic ‘vibration pattern’ or ‘musical signature’.
If a plant species is present on earth for a longer period of time, it is also electrically more active and thus emits more tones. The ferns ( > 450 million years of evolution) are much more active than the conifers ( 200 million years) or the flowering plants (120-180 million years), or the grasses that (with at most 80 million years) hardly produce any electric waves. If we realize that we humans are only here for an even shorter time – much shorter than the grasses – then it is clear that we are not nearly as connected as the plant kingdom is. We are the pupils here.
The more hybrid plants also show fewer waves. The more natural a plant is genetically, the stronger its electrical activity. So the preservation of original plant material is even more important than we thought.
Plants in organic cultivation exhibit strong and long-lasting electrical activity. A plant forced by artificial fertilizer also produces sounds initially, but after 1 to 3 hours it gets quieter. It is therefore possible – Thoby supposes – that crops without synthetic molecules much longer maintain their ability to communicate, both internally (inside and between cells) and externally (with the environment, such as fungi or insects).
The plant reacts to the environment
We have already mentioned the example of the root tips that grow towards the sound of water. When a plant dries out, the tones also diminish. Or if the plant gets water with a high pH (alkaline water) or contains chlorine, the tones also quiet. As soon as you clean the plant or give it water with a lower pH, the music comes back immediately.
During a strong storm, plants first produce sharp and very unpleasant tones, and then often fall silent. Even the day before the storm, the tones are subdued or absent. During heavy rain and thunder, on the other hand, the activity is maximal. Interestingly, ancient agricultural cultures remember that thunderstorms were favorable for plant cultivation.
Plants also react to people
Plants sometimes stop playing music as soon as certain people get closer. People with stress, anger or frustration. Or if someone can’t believe what he hears and shouts ‘This is impossible!’ then the plant may stop until this person has left. That’s why Thoby keeps the audience of a plant music concert at least three meters away from the stage.
There may even be a certain ‘complicity’ between a plant grower and her plants. So much so that the plant hardly makes any music when another person replaces that grower at a demonstration of that plant’s music. Or the plant just fell silent when the caretaker retreated; in their experience that happened at a distance of about 20 meters. And the music started again as soon as the caretaker came back within 20 meters distance.
Plants, however, do not seem to fall still when people play music themselves or keep plants in the garden or on the balcony.
Music of plants can also help people
Thoby refers to several people who came to him, after a concert, with remarks that the music had reduced or sometimes even solved their physical or mental problem. He too has experienced this at his foot. In the meantime, his practical experience has grown so much that Thoby, together with a team of doctors, carries out exploratory experiments in a hospital.
Optimal functioning of the plant music
All these experiences have led to a protocol that users of direct plant music can follow in order to achieve optimal effect:
– the place should be completely calm and quiet
– the plant grower/owner should withdraw after the device is installed, in order not to influence the plant’s music for the listening person
– during the first 5 minutes, concentrate in silence on your physical or mental problem
– then a short break would be good, maybe to explain something or answer questions
– the second part of such a session often lasts 20-30 minutes. During this period, you have to be receptive and not allow yourself to wander through all kinds of thoughts and not move along with the rhythm of the music. Have faith in the plant, even if you don’t understand how it works
– the listening client can decide when to stop. Often this happens after you get an image in your mind.
Listening clients are often fascinated and sometimes just enraptured by the experience.
Thoby is searching an explanation for these healing experiences of direct plant music in protein music as developed by Genodics. And there appear to be surprising similarities between the sound series produced by the Music-of-the-Plant-device and the sound series of various proteins. The hypothesis would be that plants perceive the listener’s vibration patterns, react to them and convert them into vibrations that stimulate the desired healing protein? A very exciting new field of research is emerging indeed. Thanks Thoby!
Do you have the feeling that plants are sometimes communicating something to you?
Would you like to ask how your potted cyclamen is doing?
Do you think plants have an intelligence but “Science” struggles to admit it?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, we can now reveal the tool that can revolutionize your beliefs about the world of plants.
Bamboo Control Software is a revolutionary software that allows you to see the electrical signals of the plants in real time. That will allow you to check and potentially understand the behavior of the plants.
It is an extraordinary opening of a new era in plant research not only for scientific laboratories but for all the passionate persons ready to discover more about the Plant World.
An incredible software that is ready to use and can monitor the electrical activity of your plant in real time using our device Bamboo. From your PC you can see how the environmental and external agents can affect the life of this being.
If you’ve read the book “The Secret Life of Plants” by P. Tompkins and C. Bird, Cleve Backster’s experiments with a galvanometer will immediately come to mind. He demonstrated how a plant could be connected with his thoughts and emotions even miles away.
Our spiritual mission is the unification of the Mother Worlds of Plants and human beings. The first step is therefore the awareness that Plants are evolved living beings that possess a consciousness and a high collective intelligence.
How does it work?
Bamboo is measuring the resistance of the plant between 2 electrodes. One electrode is placed in the ground near the roots and one electrode is clipped onto the leaf.
The device measures the Total Resistance that is a combination of 3 measures:
1. the intrinsic resistance of the plant
2. the resistance of the contact between the leaf and the metallic clip
3. background noise
The Bamboo Control Software reads the instant total electromagnetic value of the plant and produces a graph that can be easily read by you!
At the moment the software is in Beta Test so still under development. Your part, as a researcher , by giving us feedback is fundamental.
Be connected with the Plants Word and be part of the innovation with us!
We were sent the link to this TEDx talk by Professor Stefano Macuso, one of the most important figures in the field of plant neurobiology:
We already know that plants have all our senses (they can see, hear, touch, smell and see) without the organs usually associated with them and they have some more specific exclusive senses. We also know that they have very important and intense social lifes. But, are plants intelligent? Can they solve problems, communicate, and navigate their surroundings?
In this talk, Stefano Mancuso presents a new paradigm in our understanding of the vegetal world. He argues that plants process information, sleep, remember, and signal to one another-showing that, far from passive machines, plants are intelligent and aware.
Stefano Mancuso is a lecturer in the University of Florence, director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology (LINV) in Florence, Italy, and a founder of the International Society for Plant Signaling and Behavior. He is the author of several books and more than 250 scientific papers published in international magazines and journals. “La Repubblica” newspaper has listed him among the 20 people who will change our lives.
Do you think that plants are conscious and aware of their environment? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
One of our long-time supporters sent us an article from the New York Times about the work of Peter Wohlleben, a German Forest Ranger who published the book, “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World.” Presenting scientific research and his own observations in highly anthropomorphic terms, the matter-of-fact Mr. Wohlleben has delighted readers with the news — long known to biologists — that trees in the forest are social beings.
Mr. Wohlleben invites readers to imagine what a tree might feel when its bark tears (“Ouch!”). “I use a very human language,” he explained. “Scientific language removes all the emotion, and people don’t understand it anymore. When I say, ‘Trees suckle their children,’ everyone knows immediately what I mean.”
This is very different than the Music of the Plants way of speaking, which aims to create a new vocabulary to describe what plants experience, but it brings up the question, “would it be easier to understand the plant world if we use human language to describe non-human emotions?” Tell us what you think in the comments.
More independent research on plant music and healing, this time from Australia:
“I have been interested in healing frequencies for some time, and, being a Homeopath, have also tried various methods. One was, for example, using the wristbands from Quantum iNfinity to put frequencies into my body. Having read the story on comas, I purchased the Singing Plants device (thru Crystal Castle in Australia). I dowsed as to whether these plant frequencies could be used for healing, and got a positive response. So I played the music from my plants back to myself through the wristbands (30 mins 3 times a day for 2 days). The effect has been very positive. I have greater peace of mind and happiness. I feel as if something that was ‘missing’ in my energetic makeup has been found again. I am calm and, in a sense, fulfilled. I thought your community might like to know.
I am a dowser for 40 or so years. I was curious as to the healing properties of the frequencies, and dowsed it. According to my findings, all plant music is healing, and it does not relate to specific plant types. The linear intellectual model would tend to assume that, say, lemongrass would be good for the liver, parsley for iron, etc etc as per herbal lore, but apparently not. I would be interested if your researchers were to find differently, but I would be surprised if they did. The plants I have used with the singing plant device are basil, lemongrass and parsley, hence my assumptions at the start. But it seems to me, that plants can ‘scan’ a human and play what is appropriate . I believe that all plants, now, have this universal healing tendency and possible capability.”
Amazing! What do you think? Tell us in the comments.
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