A gardener spends a lot of time tending to their patch of plants grown for food or beauty. There is little of either without us in constant attendance supplying water, fertilizer, shaping them up, and protecting them from insects or diseases.  It leads a human to believe they are helpless, mindless things. Surprise! Plants are brilliant.

1. Plants are Math Experts

Not simple stuff like addition and subtraction. We’re talking complicated equations – tricky formulas they can adjust at a moment’s notice. Plants use stored starches from daylight hours to throughout the night to grow. However, they never run short, and until very recently it was unknown how they made this happen.

Plants can measure the amount of stored food in their cells, and actually ration it out over the hours between sunset and dawn. They figure out the rate of consuming the rations by complex division. Every morning at dawn only about 5% of stored starches remain unconsumed.

Researchers have studied this. They made nights longer and shorter trying to trip them up. The plants still made sure they didn’t run out. Lights were even turned on in the middle of the night. Plants just adjust their rate of processing stored food instantly to match the new situation.

2. Plants are Social

This isn’t some far out fringe idea. Plants have a secret social life. Research not only shows that plants communicate with each other, but they also have a high vocabulary of various signals. They respond to the messages and meet the situation by changing their behavior to fit whatever is going on.

What are they telling each other? They send out alerts about bad bugs or disease moving in, changes in the environment, and more. They report discomfort and pain, communicate conditions both above and below ground, and combat competing neighbors in a unified effort.

How do they talk among themselves? Chemicals, physical contact, and light emissions, or altered wavelength reflection. Makes you wonder if there are concerns about the noise level in a meadow and if plants have a sense of humor.

3. No Plant is An Island

They prefer company. Plants perform better in groups than alone. They also recognize family. Some, like strawberries, maintain really close ties being connected to each other with shared roots or runners. They have found that this family thing extends to more distant relations
like cousins. It’s all about survival.

Plants share food and water resources. They help each other deal with enemies and other dangers.

4. The War on Weeds

Why do weeds work overtime to choke out your garden? Your imported interlopers are hogging the natural resources.

Plant families don’t mind sharing with siblings and cousins, but your tomatoes and begonias? They’re illegal immigrants. The natives are in hostile mode. It’s war alright, and you started it.

Sources

Tammy Clayton

Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.
Tammy Clayton