Plants really do like it if you talk to them. And they prefer to hear a woman's voice. These are the conclusions of a new study into the effect of the human voice on tomato plants.
And what really encourages plants to grow is a direct descendant of Charles Darwin, the study by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) added.
Horticulturalists at Wisley reached the conclusion after, first, selecting plant whisperers. Recordings were made of the volunteers reading passages from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids and Darwin's On the Origin of Species.
Each plant "listened" to a different recording through the headphones of an MP3 player attached to its pot at root level, reports The Times.
The plants were kept in the same greenhouse and measured before, during and after the experiment.
The plant that grew the most had been listening to Sarah Darwin, great-great-granddaughter of Charles, reading his revolutionary work. Her plant grew 1.6cm (almost two thirds of an inch) higher than the most successful of the two control plants.
Darwin: "I think it is an honour to have a voice that can make tomatoes grow, and especially fitting because for a number of years I have been studying wild tomatoes from the Galápagos Islands at the Natural History Museum in London.
"I'm not sure if it's my dulcet tones or the text that I read from On the Origin of Species that made the plant sit up and listen, but either way I think it is great fun and I'm proud of my new title (as The Voice of Wisley)."
Colin Crosbie, garden superintendent and curator for The Voice of Wisley experiment, said that there was "something wonderfully pleasing about a plant responding to a story about how its kind came into being".
He said: "We can't explain exactly what the magical property in Sarah's voice is but it could have something to do with the pitch and tone of her voice.
"Our experiment also found that female voices had the edge over male voices in helping plants grow."