Playing music to help plants grow

by PaulGoodman67

This article looks at playing music to make your plants grow: the findings of Dorothy Retallack, including which music plants like best.

Playing music as a way to help plants grow is an idea that first gained popularity in the 1970s after the publication of the book, The Sound of Music and Plants, by Dorothy Retallack. Retallack did various experiments in order to find out the effect of what happens if you play plants music. She experimented with the length of time that music was played and also attempted to discover the style of music plants like most.

Dorothy Retallack’s experiments took place at the Colorado Women's College in Denver and involved three Biotronic Control Chambers. She placed plants in each chamber and played the plants music and sounds through speakers. In one series of early experiments she played the note F for extended periods of time, but most of her later focus was on the effects of different styles of music.

The Main Findings of Dorothy Retallack

The best music to play if you wish to help plants grow is soothing, positive music. Plants don't like harsh, heavy, angry or discordant sounds.

Three or four hours of music is the optimum amount, according to Retallack. Play plants music for longer than this and the effects are negative, whatever style of music is played.

Examples of positive soothing music

Louis ArmstrongOlder classical music such as works by the composer, J S Bach is recommended if you want to help plants grow.

Smooth and melodic jazz music, such as material by the instrumentalist and singer, Louis Armstrong, is also good to play them.

Certain styles of World Music, such as Indian sitar music was also found to have a positive effect.

Examples of negative harsh music

Heavy rock music had a detrimental effect on plant development, according to Dorothy Retallack, who played plants Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.

Discordant modern classical music, such as Arnold Schonberg also seemed to be bad for plants and should be avoided.


Johnny CashCountry music was recorded by Retallack as not having either a positive or negative effect when used to help plants grow.

She played them material such as the songs of Johnny Cash.

Does music help plants grow?

Criticisms of Dorothy Retallack

Although Dorothy Retallack went to great lengths to make her experiments scientific, the experimental conditions that Retallack used were not thorough and consistent enough to be fully scientific, according to some critics. 

She was also a rather eccentric lady with strong personal biases. She thought that plants were capable of ESP, for instance, and speculated that the reason why plants didn’t like heavy rock music was because of the lyrics.  Critics have also pointed out that the styles of music that Reallack said that plants liked and disliked conformed to her own musical tastes.

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Updated: 02/12/2013, PaulGoodman67
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katiem2 on 07/22/2012

What a delightful idea, I love both plants and good music, so now I know something we two have in common. I win win :)K

PaulGoodman67 on 07/21/2012

Hehe! Yes, although the plants will probably love the rainwater as much as the sun!

2uesday on 07/21/2012

We have had such a wet summer here, that I think I it might be appropriate to play either Handel's Water Music or ' Here comes the Sun' to the plants to cheer them up.

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