Plants don't like touch: Green thumb myth dispelled

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La Trobe University-led research has found that plants are extremely sensitive to touch and that repeated touching can significantly retard growth.

“The lightest touch from a human, animal, insect, or even plants touching each other in the wind, triggers a huge gene response in the plant,” Professor Whelan said.

Next steps in the research will be to test touch response in crop species and to look at the potential consequences of breeding plants which are less touch sensitive.

A Purdue University plant scientist has found the switch that creates that antagonism, opening … Plants are ‘in touch’ with the world around them.

A new study by Rice University scientists reveals that plants can use the sense of touch to fight off fungal infections and insects.


Wheat and similar crops in windy areas must not be too sensitive. They get beat around in the wind non stop. Even fruit trees take a beating in windy areas. In Amarillo it was so windy in spring that the early leaves on peaches got beat right off the tree. I couldn’t notice any adverse effect. They still hung onto every little peach and yielded great when a freeze didn’t hit.


You have to get to know you’re your plants! I don’t like to be touched by strangers either! :slight_smile:


Yeah I’m guessing the strength of the response varies across different species. For example leafy greens like lettuce have much more of a risk being shaded out or eaten by smaller creatures than wheat, corn and fruit trees.

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:point_right:I’m not touching you…:point_right:I’m not touching you…



So if they want to make them less sensitive, won’t that suppress their immune response?
And maybe it depends on who touches them - a toxic hater vs a loving compassionate person.
From the article…

“As we don’t understand why plants display such a strong defence response to touch, if we are to breed less touch-sensitive varieties, we need to first understand what some of the consequences might be,” Professor Whelan said.

Wonder if he might explain it with ‘Intelligent Design’. Poor guy.

“For example, could touch-resistant plants be more susceptible to disease because a crucial defense mechanism has been removed?”

Well, professor, you may be on to something there buddy. :thinking:

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