Talking to Plants

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Exploding House"
Hemera/Thinkstock |


Explanation: An adage out there goes "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all." But when MythBusters Tory Belleci, Kari Byron and Scottie Chapman experimented with the power of words on plants, the opposite rang true.

Some plant enthusiasts think that showering seedlings with sunlight, water and healthy soil isn't enough. To really make their roots sing, these backyard botanists believe they can sweet talk their gardens into growing better. To see whether kind words could really yield fertile results, the skeptical MythBusters procured 60 pea plants and divided them into three greenhouse groups. Then, they recorded two soundtracks — one of loving praise and one of cruel insults — and played them on repeat in two separate greenhouses. A third greenhouse remained mum as an experimental control.

To give the myth a fighting chance of flourishing, the team charted the plants' growth over 60 days. Afterward, the MythBusters determined the winning greenhouse by comparing plant masses from the three groups. To their surprise, the silent greenhouse performed poorest, producing lower biomass and smaller pea pods than the other two. Although there was no difference in plant quality between the nice greenhouse and the mean greenhouse, the soundtracks seemed to produce a positive effect in both.

Based on the plausible myth, botanists might want to chat with their plants more often, even if what they have to say isn't all-too friendly.

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