When you bring a new plant home, especially if it’s your very first (and only) plant baby, you may feel concerned that the plant might get lonely by itself. After all, there is no other plant to stimulate your indoor plant as it acclimates to its new environment. This begs the question, do plants get lonely while sitting in pots?
Plants cannot get lonely while sitting in pots, at least not the type of loneliness humans experience. While plants can benefit from growing together, it’s not mandatory that they’re grown in the same area. Your new plant can thrive alone, provided it receives its basic requirements.
Although plants do not experience loneliness as humans do, research shows that they respond to various external stimuli, such as different sound vibrations. With that being said, it’s natural to be curious about stimuli that plants experience, including different feelings. The remainder of this article will explore whether plants get lonely while sitting in pots.
Do Plants Suffer From Loneliness?
Loneliness is an emotion that can be felt by some mammals that have brains; needless to say, plants do not have brains and, thus, cannot feel emotions.
This makes it impossible for plants to experience an emotion like loneliness– at least not the way that humans experience it (an aching desire for connection due to heartbreaking isolation).
Just because plants can’t experience the exact same feelings as humans doesn’t mean they don’t have senses or instincts that could replicate the feeling of loneliness. Like all living organisms, plants have adaptations to thrive and survive in their environments, which means they have senses just like we do.
For example, plants can sense danger, the presence of animals, temperature changes, and light through different adaptations that humans don’t have! They can also sense particular chemicals, which act as communication signals between individual plants.
Some studies have examined plant growth alongside the sounds of classical music, with several gardeners swearing by the idea of singing or talking to their plants as a way to help them grow. This would suggest that plants can detect sound, as well. That being said, plants can certainly sense their owner’s presence and touch.
Does the owner’s lack of presence create a feeling of loneliness for these plants? No. This is because loneliness is an unpleasant emotional response to isolation. As previously mentioned, plants do not feel emotions– they simply sense what happens within their surroundings.
So, although plants may not feel lonely the way humans do, loneliness (or being alone) may be a contributing factor to slower plant growth. Let’s explore what other forms of stimuli houseplants experience and how these stimuli can encourage plants to thrive.
How Can Being Alone Stunt Foliage Growth?
Being alone is the key term in this question; being alone differs from being lonely. Being alone simply means that one is not around others while being lonely describes the unpleasant emotional reaction resulting from isolation.
As we’ve discovered, plants can’t feel sad as a result of perceived isolation, but they can experience some challenges if grown alone in a nursery or indoors at home.
It turns out a lone plant would actually grow better around other plants and humans. Although the topic hasn’t been widely explored in recent years, some studies show remarkable evidence that plants thrive when grown next or close to other plants.
In 2016, for example, researchers experimented with three different seedlings paired with contrasting environments– the first silent, the second with Sikh chants, and the third with discouraging language. They each grew in their own unique ways, with the plant exposed to Sikh chants growing the tallest.
This study has been replicated time and time again, providing evidence that plants grow better listening to pleasant sounds and, more importantly, human voices.
Remember, listening in this context doesn’t refer to the same listening we humans do with our ears. Instead, plants can sense sound vibrations through receptors, both in their leaves and deep within their cells.
So, plants thrive when they are exposed to calm music and sounds, meaning they benefit from the sounds of others.
Additionally, plants have touch receptors on their leaves, and they use those receptors to feel pressure. Some plants do exceptionally well with gentle massaging, in fact! I had an unfurled Dieffenbachia that bloomed just days after someone suggested I give it a gentle massage!
Growing in the absence of other plants or people could slow down the plant’s growth over time. There are other benefits of not growing your plant in isolation. The next portion of this article will provide an in-depth exploration of the pros of ensuring your plant isn’t lonely.
How Plants Benefit From Not Being Alone
Aside from the sound of someone’s voice or the soft hum of the radio benefiting plant growth, plants also benefit from the presence of people due to elevated CO2 levels in their environment.
The carbon dioxide breathed out by humans encourages and increases photosynthesis in plants. The more often plants are around human beings, the more carbon dioxide in the environment and the faster rate of photosynthesis for your beloved greenery.
In the same vein, the more humans are in space, the warmer that space will be. While different plants require different environmental temperatures and conditions, most houseplants suffer in areas that are too cold or too hot.
The temperature inside a home is frequently regulated by the presence of people and animals, which encourages healthy plant growth.
Additionally, plants grow better amongst similar plant species. Companion planting involves planting similar species together to encourage growth and strength. For best results, it is done in a garden or in a large container where the individual seedlings can form roots in the same soil.
However, it isn’t mandatory for plants to be potted in the same soil for you to notice the benefits. Plants in separate pots can communicate with each other as well, and those that do often grow quicker and fuller.
A study completed in 2013, for example, found that plants that communicate with their neighbors grow faster and healthier as a result. Plants do this by sensing the vibrations on an intracellular level with their neighbors. Those plants of the same species grew significantly better together than in the solo control group.
Pretty impressive, right? With all of that being said, there is increasing evidence that plants excel with presence and become stunted with absence.
To summarize all of this information, plants:
- Can sense light, temperature, touch, and sound vibrations: These adaptations help the plant survive and thrive. Studies have shown that plants that listen to pleasant music or hear voices grow healthier than those that don’t.
- Increase the speed of photosynthesis through the absorption of CO2: The more people in a household, the more carbon dioxide the plant absorbs and uses as fuel for photosynthesis.
- Can sense the presence of other healthy plants: Healthy neighboring plants are shown to increase plant growth all around.
Still, loneliness is an emotional response, a condition of the perceptive, conscious mind. In a plant’s reality, they simply experience slower growth rates if there is an absence of other living things.
There is no emotional attachment to being alone. Similarly, in the presence of positive external stimuli, the plant experiences faster growth– without the attached emotion of joy.
Many studies have looked at this phenomenon, but none have broached the topic of whether plants have consciousness. What characterizes the concept of loneliness is the conscious perception of it.
Without knowing for sure that plants have consciousness, it’s impossible to determine whether they suffer when experiencing an absence of positive external stimuli. If researchers somehow figured that out, perhaps it would be evidence to prove that plants do get lonely while sitting in their pots, the same way humans do… while sitting in their cots!
Can Plants Feel Any Other Emotions?
Touch receptors on the plant’s leaf surface and in its stem allow the plant to experience physical sensations. However, anything with an emotional attachment doesn’t exist in a plant’s reality.
Plants don’t have emotions but can sense changes in the environment and end up negatively affected when grown in isolation. This explains why plants adjust to suit the prevailing environmental conditions.
Essentially, any experience that requires conscious perception cannot be had by a plant because it doesn’t have a brain. Some studies have looked at whether plants can feel anger, joy, or pain, but the results have generally been inconclusive.
Overall, plants are capable of detecting light, sound, and temperature. These adaptations allow plants to thrive in their natural environment. In response to stimuli, plants will face their leaves towards the light source, curl up in colder temperatures and listen for healthy, positive sound vibrations!
In conclusion, the stunted growth of a plant as a result of loneliness could be looked at as an unpleasant reaction to the absence of other plants, organisms, or people.
From this perspective, it seems as though plants might suffer from loneliness, although it could never be the same despair that humans feel.
Further studies to examine plant perception would be needed to discover whether plants can truly understand the feeling of loneliness or its absence.
If you found this guide helpful, I recommend my complete guide on keeping indoor plants healthy. You’ll learn everything you need to know to meet the requirements for your plants to survive and prosper: How To Keep Indoor Plants Healthy (9 Essential Tips)