Our internal and external environments are important for determining our overall health. If we do not drink enough water, get enough exercise, fresh air, or consume enough nutrients, our health suffers.
When we are stressed, unhappy, lonely or push ourselves too hard, our health suffers.
The same is true for plants!
We humans are not so different from our botanical friends. So we breathe differently and communicate differently, but essentially we want to be hydrated, nourished, loved and live a low-stress life in the right environment that is most suitable for our physical nature.
Have you ever seen a sad-looking plant that is devastatingly covered in insects?
Did you stop to wonder why the insects chose that particular plant to make a meal of? It isn’t random. Plants under physical stress become a suitable target for herbivorous insects.1
The biochemical changes that happen in a plant when it undergoes stress (i.e. drought -> dehydration; soil lacking nutrients, etc.) create a more welcoming environment for destructive insects.2 There is no complete scientific explanation for this, but the correlation is there: plants under more stress are more likely targets to become food for insects.1
Interestingly, one of the factors that reduces plants’ stress levels is sound! The right sound waves (human voices, nature sounds, some music) can be used to improve plant growth and plant resistance against stressors.3 Plants are social beings!
This makes me think about how humans relate. When we become targets for bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other pathogens, could it be random? Not really.
Yes, we come in contact with these micro-organisms all the time, but much of the ability to defend ourselves from illness depends on our current state of health (including stress levels!) which determines our immune defence.
Just like plants, we must arm ourselves with good nutrition (nutrient-rich foods, supplementation when necessary), the right amount of hydration, the companionship of others (human or other animals), and keep our stress to a minimum.
All of these factors help keep our immune defence optimal and our bodies strong.
Take care of yourselves this holiday season! And remember to talk to your plants…..
Lauren Truscott Waddell, RHT, CHHC
1. Larsson, S. (1989). Stressful Times for the Plant Stress: Insect Performance Hypothesis. Oikos, 56(2), 277–283. https://doi.org/10.2307/3565348
2. Dale AG, Frank SD (2017). Warming and drought combine to increase pest insect fitness on urban trees. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0173844. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0173844
3. Jung, J. et al. (2018). Beyond chemical triggers: Evidence for sound-evoked physiological reactions in plants. Frontiers in Plant Science 9, 25. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2018.00025/full