Have you ever wondered if plants have feelings?
Do they grow better if they are loved? Are they healthier if you talk to them? Gardeners have been trying everything they can to grow better plants for centuries, but recently, there have been some studies that offer scientific proof that plants do have feelings.
IKEA recently asked people to bully one plant and talk kindly to another.
They documented to results, and they are pretty shocking. They shared the results after 30 days. The plant that was bullied had drooping leaves and wasn’t as vibrant or healthy as the plant that received only compliments. The test proved how bullying can hurt people and plants.
While this may seem like a science project about plants, it’s really one about bullying.
The test took place in a school, and the participants were kids. The experiment proved that words hurt and may have taught kids a valuable lesson.
If plants reacted this way to bullying, how does it affect people?
The students were amazed at the results. Most of them didn’t expect there to be any difference between them after the end of the experiment.
There have been many other tests and experiments conducted to see if plants have feelings or respond to people or outside stimuli. An article published in the New Yorker shared the results of one of these studies. One of the researchers, Michael Pollan explained:
“They have analogous structures. They have ways of taking all the sensory data they gather in their everyday lives … integrate it and then behave in an appropriate way in response. And they do this without brains, which, in a way, is what’s incredible about it, because we automatically assume you need a brain to process information. We don’t know why they have them, whether this was just conserved through evolution or if it performs some sort of information processing function. We don’t know. There’s a lot we don’t know.”
They tried dropping a plant to see how it would react.
They were just as surprised by these results as the kids were by the results of bullying their plant. Pollan said:
“After five or six drops, the plants would stop responding, as if they’d learned to tune out the stimulus as irrelevant. This is a very important part of learning — to learn what you can safely ignore in your environment. They would continue to collapse. They had made the distinction that [dropping] was a signal they could safely ignore. And what was more incredible is that [Gagliano] would retest them every week for four weeks and, for a month, they continued to remember their lesson.”
Most people don’t look at plants as living things.
They know they are living and need water, sun, and food to survive, but they don’t realize that they have feelings and can react to things in their environment. These tests not only show how negative things can affect plants but also show that plants are a lot more complicated than we think.
“Plants can do incredible things. They do seem to remember stresses and events, like that experiment. They do have the ability to respond to 15 to 20 environmental variables. The issue is, is it right to call it learning? Is that the right word? Is it right to call it intelligence? Is it right, even, to call what they are conscious. Some of these plant neurobiologists believe that plants are conscious — not self-conscious, but conscious in the sense they know where they are in space … and react appropriately to their position in space.”
The more we study plants and how they react to people, the more we learn about the world around us and ourselves.
The kids who participated in the IKEA experiment will probably never look at plants the same again. They also might think twice before they say something mean to another student or see someone being
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