Recent scientific studies seem to be suggesting that plants can 'hear' and will respond to sound vibrations with physiological responses. In theory, this means that the sounds we expose plants to while they are in our care could influence how well they grow. The fact that plants do respond with a chemical response when subjected to specific sounds such as a caterpillar eating leaves does suggest that the type of sound we expose plants to could alter how well they thrive. But can we draw any conclusions about what kind of music plants like? Will playing a certain type of music to plants allow us to obtain a higher yield from our polytunnel plants?
Unfortunately, we know little about how or why plants react to sound, and there is a dearth of proper scientific, peer-reviewed and replicable research into the issue. A number of so-called studies and in-field researches have anecdotally suggested a link between music and plant growth, though these studies were not rigorous enough to prove any scientific hypotheses. Suggestion and surmise is really all we have to go on.
Anecdotally, gardeners have many theories about which type of music is best for growing plants, and arguably, it is likely that music will alter plant growth (as do other sound stimuli). Some gardeners have suggested that loud music such as rock music can improve plant growth, while others have found that plants will grow away from this type of music. Others have stated a positive result from playing classical music, while others have seen no discernible difference to plants grown with classical tunes. To many variables – heat from speakers, distance from source, and other environmental factors – make it impossible to compare studies or draw valid conclusions.
Many individual gardeners around the world, however, will swear that they have plants that have grown better when exposed to sound stimuli of certain types of music. While difficult to prove, it does seem that plants are far more complex and fascinating than many people imagine. Whether or not there is any 'real' scientific result, it cannot hurt to play music to plants, and will help us to respect them as the living beings that they are.
Perhaps you could conduct your own experiments in your own polytunnel, so see how different music types alter plant growth in positive or negative ways. This is a fascinating field which deserves a lot more thought and rigorous study. What kind of music do plants like? We don't know. But perhaps we should try to find out?