Plant Sensitivity

This time of year we (gardeners, and the like) prune everything back for the Winter. Almost every mature plant in your garden gets some sort of hair cut, be it significant or a small dead-heading. But have you ever wondered what the plants thinks of all this?

I like to assume my plants enjoy when I prune them. My roses feel refreshed when I dead-head old, spent blossoms. My boxwood is happy when it gets a swift sheering on all sides; I like to imagine it feels like its just lost 10 pounds – but not in the “I worked really hard by going to the gym” way, but more in the “I have a hot date and am starving myself except for alcohol for the next three days” way. Shearing boxwood is like cutting out carbs for a couple weeks.

So. Yeah! I think plants like to be pruned, right?

Plant sensitivity has been widely studied since the beginning of… well, studying. I guessing (since that’s what you do on a blog, as opposed to a doctoral thesis) phototropism was the first noticeable, almost tangible studying of plant sensitivity. Phototropism is a growth movement induced by light or sun, or lack there of. Pretty simple, where there is light, a plant will move toward said area. The perfect example always being – sunflowers. Even (especially) as seedlings, they tilt and stretch towards a source of heat or light. And that we get. We understand this very obvious and visual plant sensitivity. But what about simply touching a plant, speaking a certain way around them or even (here we go! off to the races…) having a certain energetic way of being around them?

Take this picture of this orchid. The fine, tiny hairs on a Paphiopedilum orchid are purely functional. The trichome have evolved to grow for a number of reasons, namely to mimic aphids – which in turn, attract aphid eating insects including the Syrphid fly, one of the plant’s pollinators. Smarty pants little orchid, no? But by simply looking at these hairs they have a connotation around them that they could possibly be for feeling something else.

Do you think this orchid blossom can feel what I’m feeling? Does she feel tickled when I touch the small hairs on her petals or the difference of when I water her with warm or cold water? Does she have a preference between Snoop Dogg or Marvin Gaye?

I say, Yes.

However, your thoughts are more important… please comment.

(Much more to come on this topic… consider this a teaser.)

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