Hartley Magazine

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Want to grow robust plants? Give them a blast of Black Sabbath

Greenhouse growers are regularly offered so many tips for how they can get the most out of their plants that it can be very difficult to navigate them all and come up with a consistent method. 

This kind of difficulty is only exacerbated when some of these tips appear to contradict each other. However, one expert has come up with a particularly unusual solution that could be worth taking on board. 

Chris Beardshaw – a broadcaster and gardening expert – has revealed that a constant diet of the heavy metal sounds of Black Sabbath can work wonders in a greenhouse full of plants. 

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 magazine show Gardeners' Question Time, the garden guru explained that this suggestion is backed up by the scientific research of one of his horticultural students, UK national newspaper the Guardian reports. 

The student wanted to compose a dissertation project to establish what kind of effects music can have on plants – and while Black Sabbath had a positive impact, the music of Cliff Richard was absolutely disastrous. 

Four separate glasshouses were set up – and all of them were constantly exposed to different kinds of sounds. Firstly, one was kept in relative silence so as to act as a control house, or a yardstick for which to measure the results from the other three houses. One of these had classical music being played on an endless loop, with the Cliff Richard and Black Sabbath houses comprising the other two. 

Alstroemeria – more commonly known as Peruvian lily or lily of the Incas – were the plants that were being grown. They were bombarded with sound for their entire lifetime. 

The flowers of these plants are very showy, with six large petals all being roughly similar. However, in some variants, two of them are enlarged and more vividly coloured, acting as flags for pollinators. 

In terms of their vegetative characteristics, alstroemeria are very distinctive. Their rootstock is comprised of slender rhizomes and sausage-like water storing structures are suspended from these in order to store nutrients. 

Mr Beardshaw explained that the instances of pests and diseases were monitored and everything in the control house went as well as could be expected. 

"The one that was grown with classical music – a soft, almost a caressing of the plant when it is hit with that sort of soundwave – those grew slightly shorter because of the soundwaves bombarding them and were slightly more floriferous and there was slightly less pest and disease," the expert remarked. 

He added: "The ones with Black Sabbath – great big, thumping noise, rowdy music – they were the shortest, but they had the best flowers and the best resistance to pest and disease." 

"The alstroemerias in the Cliff Richard house all died. Sabotage was suspected but we couldn't prove it," Mr Beardshaw concluded. 

Another consideration that is important to take into account in a greenhouse is water conservation – and horticultural writer Noel Kingsbury recently suggested it is important to take note of climate conditions now. This is because they could be setting a precedent for the future, as a result of climate change.