What We're Listening To #4: Music For Plants?

Updated: Aug 20

Written and Curated by: Afriansyah Makki

Edited by: Argia Adhidhanendra and Aliyya Asra

Cover Photo by: Aliyya Asra

We know this lockdown isn’t going away anytime soon, therefore the most effective thing you can do is just to stay at home. Right now is a very important time for hobbies as a form of escapism; art, music, culture, gardening, sports, or any kind of activity really, are some of the best and healthier ways for us to escape this new normal.

YouTube has always been a go-to website for killing time and we all know how the YouTube wormhole enables us to discover things randomly, so I came across a YouTube video about aquascaping by Youtuber Foo the Flowerhorn. In one of his videos, he put two sweet potatoes above an aquarium and it grew leaves! And so I said to myself “that looks easy”.

That's how it all started, and I haven't stopped gardening ever since.

Orange Plant - Photo by Afriansyah Makki

First I bought some sweet potatoes and placed them in a glass of water. Half of it underwater and the rest not. A few days later, the submerged parts grew roots and the parts above grew leaves! Didn’t have a clue on what to do with it so I did a little web search. Once the slips—those green vines that grow out of sweet potato when it sprouts­—are tall enough, they can be cut off, put into water (to grow more roots) and planted directly to the ground.

After I successfully gave life to those sweet potatoes, much like Dr Frankenstein and his prized monster, I told myself “why not try other plants? since we’ve gone this far already”. So I started collecting seeds from lemons and oranges. Did a little research on how to plant them first, then I germinated them inside a plastic bag with a wet paper towel and put it in a dry and dark place. Few weeks went by, it sprouted leaves and roots from the seeds! My reaction was literally mouth-gaping after seeing that the technique worked. Since it is that simple to germinate seeds from fruits that I consume, I experimented on other plants as well; mangosteen, ginger, a marigold flower, and a random supermarket avocado—using the sweet potato method. To this day they are still alive and well, except for the lemon tree, which has died (needed a suitable climate maybe?). It may take years for them to bear fruits, but I still think it’s fun to watch them grow.

Sweet Potato Plant - Photo by Afriansyah Makki

Mort Garson - Mother Earth's Plantasia (Album)

After sharing a couple of pictures of them online, few of my friends told me that if you play music to your plants, it helps them grow and there’s this album called Mother Earth’s Plantasia, by Mort Garson, which claimed that its intended audience wasn’t humans but for plants to aid in their growth, just as the front cover describes “warm earth music for plants…and the people who love them”. As a sceptical being, I’m not really sure about this. Is this just another urban legend? I mean rationally speaking, plants can’t really hear sounds, right? Plus, playing music for your plants seems like an odd thing to do.

Hence, I put on Plantasia and I absolutely love it! In a way, the sound gives you a sort of a feeling that takes you to this dreamy, friendly place. You get different moments or moods; in Symphony for a Spider Plant comes off as a little bit outer spacey kinda feeling, or in Baby’s Tears Blues, which melodies are a little more frantic. In my opinion, everything on the album is just really soothing and relaxing for the soul. It’s pretty calming yet also whimsical. Listening to Plantasia makes me want to pet my plants… My favourite tracks from the album are Swingin’ Spathiphyllums and You Don’t Have to Walk a Begonia because they give me this “riding my bicycle on the beach” kind of scene in my head which I like. I think, If I were a talking plant and could compose an opinion of my own, I would give this album a 10 out of 10 and it will be my favourite album of all time.

Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Penguin Cafe Orchestra (Album)

Because of Plantasia, I started exploring in search of other lyric-less kinds of music which are sort of similar and I discovered this self-titled album Penguin Café Orchestra. Such an amazing discovery! The entire album consists of 15 relaxing and pleasant songs which are a joy to listen to. No shouting or anything like that, just great tones that are pleasing for our ears to hear and process. The kind of music that goes straight to your soul. There wasn’t a single moment I didn’t love. Listening to this is the best way to start and end the day, in my opinion. Gave me a warmth, mildness kinda feeling like every living thing on this planet is my friend. Just lay down, relax, and enjoy Penguin Café Orchestra.

The Amazing New Electronic Pop Sound of Jean Jacques Perrey - Jean-Jacques Perrey (Album)

Another record that I’m listening to is The Amazing New Electronic Pop Sound of Jean Jacques Perrey by Jean-Jacques Perrey. This album is great for anyone who enjoys unique and fun music. All tracks express happiness via cheerful sounds and noises. I’m sure if you listen to this album, there are songs that you’re familiar with like Frere Jean Jacques for example or The Little Ships. It’s not something that you can put on and on again, but it’s fun to listen to. I feel like this album pretty much could be a soundtrack to everything. It certainly will make you shake your body parts.

Now that I know music does help plants grow, I made this playlist. This playlist contains several songs that I think can help your plants grow. It also has helped me sleep, so hopefully it can help you sleep too.

With that being said, music might not make your plants suddenly grow faster or bear more fruits, but it does promote a feeling of calmness and wellbeing which are both a positive thing. I’m pretty sure there are possible benefits to playing music to your plants or yourself in a certain way—don’t ask me, there are dozens of videos and articles that prove it.

Gardening helps me have a purpose in what otherwise may be a stagnant, unproductive time in my life. It also teaches me the empathy and patience it may take to help another being grow. On an even more positive note, my plants and I have also provided more oxygen into the world—which makes us sort of like superheroes if you ask me. You should try it sometime, I think it may give you inner peace and a feeling of accomplishment. Use it as a tool to get through these hard times. We have to be able to cope with this stressful situation because there’s not much we can do about it as individuals right now. Most importantly, we have to make sure we’re not ignoring this because if we do, we’re screwed to repeat the same errors.

Take care of yourselves, take care of each other, stay fit and happy. God bless you all.

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Curating Whatever's Left