by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Research shows plants have a definite calming effect on their gardener. Plants are so understanding. They refrain from arguing, asking difficult questions, or interrupting when speaking. It’s no wonder, so many gardeners talk to plants.
A survey of 1250 gardeners found 50% spend time talking to their plants Trees.com. When asked why gardeners talk to their plants, “It helps my plants grow.” The research could be more definitive. Researchers have proven sound does affect plants, with further study needed for the human voice specifically.
Talking to plants is natural. The Lain clan names our automobiles, dogs, and cat and talks to each. I’ve been known to speak sweetly to our Roomba vacuum when she is stuck on a lamp stand while sucking up that iPhone cord for the second time this week. Why not plants?
Plants like the sound of my voice. A 2003 study in the Journal of Ultrasonics found cabbage growth increased when classical music was played. They equally liked the sound of birds, insects, and running water.
The International Journal of Integrative Sciences, innovation and technology researchers exposed marigold and chickpea plants to soothing Indian music and another set to the sound of traffic. Both varieties gained height, increased foliage, and looked healthier when played music four hours per day. Plants subjected to traffic noise did not fair as well.
“While sound matters to plants, we don’t know if talking to them makes them grow differently,” says professor of environmental sciences at the University of Toledo, Heidi Appel. “Plants respond to vibrations in their environment, which causes them to grow and become more resistant to falling over.”
Research absolutely shows taking care of plants is beneficial to our well-being. The same Trees.com survey asked why gardeners spoke to their plants, “because it helped their own mental health.”
Over and over, the research proves the idea. The Journal of HortScience found planting young plants reduced mental stress and anxiety in young adults. Spending an hour gardening improves mood and reduces stress among healthy women in a 2022 PLoS One study.
“Talking to plants is a way of talking to ourselves,” says Kenneth Yeager, Director of the Stress Trauma and Resilience Program at Ohio State University. “As we talk to our plants, we’re talking to ourselves, formalizing our thought process. Putting our thoughts and feelings into words is therapeutic.”
Talking to plants is low-risk. “Plants don’t judge,” says Elizabeth Diehl, director of therapeutic horticulture at the Wilmot Botanical Gardens College of Medicine at the University of Florida. “You can be who you want to be and say what you want. They are happy to be with you; you taking care of them.”
While the published research is elusive to the specific benefits to plants of the human voice, gardeners understand. People talk to things they care about. This could be a dog, cat, robotic vacuum, or plant. Talking to plants is a practice of gratitude and appreciation.
Washington Post this week – The Happiest, Least Stressful, Most Meaningful Jobs in America, Agriculture is on top. Specifically, working with trees. Garden centers were behind a touch but far above hotels, restaurants, medical, and manufacturing. After 30 years of doing the same job, I am giddy at the start of each week. Working at a nursery is exciting and rewarding, and gardeners are just fun people to help.
It’s all about timing. January and February is the window open to those who want to join a team. Agriculture and garden centers specifically are places the staff put their roots down. More team members retire from their job than leave for new ones. Don’t delay if you want to work at a happy, rewarding place. Working at a garden center is all about time, and they are hiring now:)
Free Garden Classes offered by Watters Garden Center
We go deep into growing better. Check out this spring’s class selection offered every Saturday @ 9:30 am.
January 21 – Top Local Landscapes with Flare
January 28 – Why January is the Month to Plant Wildflowers
February 4 – Winter Soil Preparation for Growing Success
Until next week, I’ll be helping gardeners grow better here at Watters Garden Center.