Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Kind Word Never Hurts

My, don't you look lovely today. Need a bit of drink?

Do you talk to your plants? And if you do, do they respond? I find myself talking to my plants. I compliment my African violets each time I water them. “My, don’t you look lovely today,” I might say. Or “Well look at you, you finally decided to bloom. You are just so beautiful.” Sometimes I find myself apologizing to the poor dears: “I am so sorry I haven’t watered you lately. You do look a bit limp. Here. Here’s a nice drink for you.” I have to make serious apologies to my ponytail plant because unless it is located in a place where the cats can’t get to it, it suffers from frequent feline snack attacks. Let’s face it. I am not very good with houseplants. I don’t have the time it takes to nurture them adequately, so I don’t have very many, and I have to keep them out of reach for the cats and dog. Even Prince Charles, a well versed horticulturist, in an interview admitted back in 1986 to talking kindly to his plants because "they respond," so I don’t feel quite so odd. (read the article on the science behind talking to plants
Oh Iris, your color is so perfect, but rain has you looking a
bit limp. Don't worry, a good shower will do wonders
for your complexion.

Now, Coriscomia, you are really something. I am so
glad that I rescued you from that awful garden
center. Now your roots can run wild.
The Science: So do plants really respond to kind voices? The first definitive study done to find out if plants respond to music was done by Dorothy Retallack at Colorado Women’s College in Denver, Colorado. She published her results in her book The Sound of Music and Plants in 1973. Essentially she placed identical plants in three labs under identical conditions: one where music played daily for 3 hours a day and the other extreme where plants listened to music 8 hours a day. In the lab where the plants listened to music for 3 hours a day, they grew strong twice as strong and twice as healthy as the plants in the music free lab.  The plants that were exposed to music 8 hours a day died within 2 weeks. In the 3rd lab, no music played. Ratallack also experimented with the type of music. The plants exposed to rock ‘n roll failed to thrive, while the plants listening to more gentle music thrived, and most interestingly, bent toward to source of the music, much like they tend to face the sun. The rock ‘n roll music was of the late ‘60s was pretty tame, as I remember. (I barely survived the years of Guns and Roses and Def Leopard my teenaged daughters played in the ‘80s; I can’t imagine exposing my African violets to such noise—though I was keeping violets then, too).

Oh, Icky Nicky, we must re-name you because you are
gloriously beautiful. Keep smiling, dear.
Thinking about how plants respond to the world around them begs the question: If they respond to a kind voice and soft music, do they feel pain? Logically thinking, they don’t have a brain or a central nervous system, so they shouldn’t feel pain. 
As gardeners, we really can’t think about plants suffering when we deadhead, or prune, or mow. Nor can we worry about eating our veggies alive or concern ourselves about their feelings as we steam them in the microwave.

None-the-less, a positive attitude and a kind voice in the garden may not necessarily yield better results, but a kind word never hurts and a good positive attitude always lifts our spirits and if our garden beauties bloom a bit brighter, grow fuller, and out do the neighbors’, so much the better.

Tonight here at the Garden Spot we are under a sever winter storm warming. It started snowing about 7:00 p.m. About 8:00 the power went out. I rounded up the holiday candles, we lit the gas fireplace and waited, and waited, and waited. I thought I could work on the blog, but the lap top battery (an old, weak one) died. So hubby and I talked: politics, (yuck, really), the garden, the weather, the blankity-blank power failure. In an hour and half, the lights came on, but our new oven failed to come back to life. Not good. Weather reports say that we can expect 8-12 inches of snow along with winds, which means that I may not have to work tomorrow. We will just have to see how bad the roads are. We welcome the bad weather after a very mild and dry January because we need the moisture so badly. Well, the week-end is nigh. You all have great one. Say something kind.


  1. Sounds like some storm coming your way, did you get snowed in? Don't forget to take some photos of the snow! The music and plant research was interesting to read. I don't really talk to my plants, but i talk to my cats and to myself occassionally!

  2. I do talk to my plants but to my certain knowledge not one has ever answered me back!
    Thanks for commenting on my pinterest pinks, I would certainly follow you on there if I knew how! Any help gratefully received.

  3. mmmm they dont seem to notice if I talk to them (love the aquilegia/grannys bonnet/colombine in your header) Hope your power is back on soon.

  4. I talk more to the birds around here than the plants. Maybe I need to start talking to the plants as well because my african v. has been slow to re-bloom.
    Keep warm! Chilly day here. 5 degrees this morning.

  5. I have many, many houseplants, and most survive on my neglect. And I never talk to them! I lost my blog when someone tried to hack into Google Checkout. I've never used it, so no CC info was lost, but that caused Google to close down my page. Well, it was Christmas time, and I was swamped at work (Kohl's) and they Google said it was taking me too long to recover my account, so they just deleted it. Heart breaking. There's more to the story, but I finally gave up and just started over.

  6. What an interesting study though I don't talk to mine but talk to myself instead :).

    I hope you've recovered from that storm.


  7. Thank you Ann! What an interesting subject! I think its all about the vibes that surround you and me and well... the plants too. Love you photos! Stay warm and safe.xo

  8. Ann, just got your comment about your forth coming trip to the UK and Yorkshire. I would be glad to help with any suggestions and of course if you are close by it would be lovely to meet up somewhere!
    just email me when you have your details.

  9. Hi Ann,

    I enjoyed reading about the study. I will have to remember for spring! Meanwhile it's snowing again in Holland. I hope your winter storm wasn't too bad.

    Take care & stay warm!


  10. Hi Ann,

    These flower pics are beautiful! Are they from your garden? I have to say, I really don't talk to my plants, but I have always heard that it makes them grow better.

    It sounds like you've had quite a snow storm. We could use a nice snow here in NC. I haven't seen a single flake this winter. I hope your power came back on fairly quickly.

    Thanks so much for your visit and your kind comments. Have a great week!

    Denise at Forest Manor