Not Watering Your Plants? You Might Be Hearing Them Scream in Agony
Hearing mysterious noises in your home is always a little unnerving. Is it the furnace, the refrigerator or maybe a leaky faucet? Well, a new study suggests that the culprit may be creepier than you could have ever imagined — it’s the sound of your thirsty plants screaming for their lives.
Previous data has established that some plants make vibrations, but until now, it wasn’t clear if these amounted to audible sounds. “There’s so many organisms that respond to sound, I thought there was no good reason for plants to be deaf and mute,” study co-author Lilach Hadany, a professor at the School of Plant Sciences at Tel Aviv University, explained to CNN.
In the past, Hadany had recorded a cactus using an ultrasonic microphone, but she couldn’t tell if the sounds were coming from something else in the lab. This time around, she commissioned soundproof boxes that she put tomato and tobacco plants inside of, some of which had their stems cut or were unwatered for up to five days, and recorded them like Tony Soprano in his basement.
The ultrasonic microphones revealed that the stressed-out plants made the most noise, the frequency of 40 to 80 kilohertz. When condensed and translated, the noises were comparable to bubble wrap.
Although they aren’t screaming literally, “when tomatoes are not stressed at all, they are very quiet,” Hadany explained. She suspects that the popping sound comes from the plant’s water column collapsing, instead of the plant trying to communicate directly that you’re a bad plant parent and they’re dying.
Still, the findings are a loud and clear reminder to water your damn plants. Otherwise, all you're gonna be left with is their cries for help.