Beginning tomorrow, a comment made by Prince Charles in 1986 will become the focal point of a month-long study by the Royal Horticulture Society.
During a 1986 interview, The Prince of Wales, who has always been ahead of his day when it comes to matters of ecological concern, commented that plants “respond” when they’re spoke to, and that it’s “very important” to engage with them. The comment was met by marked skepticism, but in 2007 South Korean scientist Mi-Jeong Jeong claimed that playing music – specifically Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata – helped speed the growth and blossoming of rice plants.
Prince Charles has been an ardent supporter of ecological conservation efforts, environmental awareness, and the organic foods movement, and has even established his own brand of organic foods – Duchy Originals – which are sold primarily at Waitrose stores in the United Kingdom. Prince Charles’s support of these endeavors, as well as limiting his carbon footprint and that of his household, is so strong that in 2007 he was honored by Harvard Medical School with the 10th Annual Global Environmental Citizen Award and was named the Most Influential Conservationist in the UK by BBC Wildlife Magazine.
Now, nearly three decades after making that infamous remark, Prince Charles’s theory that speaking to plants benefits their growth, is being put to an official scientific test. According to Colin Crosbie, the Gardening Superintendent of the Royal Horticulture Society, a select number of tomato plants will listen to excerpts of John Wyndham’s Day of Triffids and Shakespeare’s A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. The excerpts have been read by a number of volunteers, with a total of ten being selected for the study, so that the scientists may also measure the responsiveness to certain tones and pitches.
The hope, said Crosbie, is that the Society may be able to produce “multiple copies of the most plant-friendly voices” for other enthusiasts and farmers to use.