The Science of Plant Communication: How Plants "Talk" to Each Other

Aug 21, 2023

Unlocking the Secrets of Plant Communication: Dive deep into the sophisticated ways plants communicate, from underground mycorrhizal networks known as the 'Wood Wide Web' to airborne chemical signals and electrical impulses. Learn how plants aren't the silent entities we once believed, but instead partake in a rich tapestry of dialogues, crucial for their survival and adaptability. At RyzoLux, we offer a glimpse into this complex botanical world, underscoring the importance of understanding these processes for sustainable farming and fostering a deeper bond with nature.


For centuries, plants were perceived as static, passive entities, with their roots firmly anchored in the ground, silently undergoing the processes of photosynthesis and growth. But as modern science peels back the layers of the verdant tapestry that adorns our planet, a startling revelation emerges: plants, in their own intricate ways, communicate. Far from being silent, they're engaged in constant chatter, creating a hidden world of inter-plant dialogues that's just waiting to be explored.

The Underground Network (Mycorrhizal fungi):

Imagine an internet beneath your feet, where information and resources flow seamlessly. In the plant kingdom, such a network exists. Interwoven amidst the roots of many plants lies an intricate web of fungi, known as mycorrhizal fungi. This symbiotic relationship, where the fungi provide plants with essential nutrients and in return receive sugars, is foundational to many terrestrial ecosystems.

But the exchange isn't limited to just nutrients. Through these fungal networks, plants can transmit and receive information, effectively "talking" to their neighbors. For instance, when one plant is under attack from pests, it might release chemical signals into the network, alerting neighboring plants. Those neighbors, in turn, can bolster their own defenses even before the threat reaches them.

This phenomenon has been so aptly coined the "Wood Wide Web." Like our digital networks, it connects individuals, allowing them to share resources and information. It’s a testament to nature's ingenuity and the intricate web of relationships that sustain life on Earth.

Chemical Signaling:

Beyond the subterranean realm of mycorrhizal networks, plants have another mode of communication that's equally fascinating: airborne chemical signaling. Picture this: a herbivore begins munching on a plant. In response, the distressed plant releases a cocktail of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. These aren't random emissions but specific distress signals.

Nearby plants, upon detecting these VOCs, spring into action, ramping up their production of chemical defenses to deter the herbivores. Some even release VOCs that attract predators of the herbivores, turning the tables on the attackers.

This chemical dialogue is not just a passive response mechanism. Recent research indicates that plants can modulate their VOC emissions based on the nature of the threat and the environmental context. It’s a dynamic, adaptive system that showcases plants as active participants in their environment, always alert and ready to respond.

Electrical Signaling and Plant Responses:

When we think of electrical impulses, our minds likely veer towards the realm of animals, particularly the complex networks in our brains. Yet, plants, seemingly stationary and serene, have their own electric language. In response to environmental stimuli—like a nibbling caterpillar or varying light conditions—plants generate electrical signals. These signals, akin to our nervous system's responses, travel through the plant, activating biochemical pathways and defensive mechanisms.

For instance, when the sensitive hairs of a Venus Flytrap are touched, an electrical impulse is generated, causing the trap to snap shut in a matter of seconds. Similarly, when parts of a plant are subjected to stress, they release electric signals that travel to other regions, prompting them to fortify against potential threats or adapt to changing conditions.

Root-to-Root Communication:

Below the surface, away from prying eyes, the roots of plants weave tales of camaraderie and competition. Recent studies have uncovered that roots exude chemicals that can influence the growth patterns of neighboring plants. This isn't a mere side effect of growth but an active communication strategy.

For instance, some plants release allelopathic chemicals that inhibit the germination or growth of potential competitors, securing more resources for themselves. Conversely, in a densely packed community, roots might signal neighbors to adjust their growth patterns, reducing overlap and competition. This unspoken code of "etiquette" not only highlights the incredible adaptability of plants but also their inherent interconnectedness.

The Importance of Understanding Plant Communication:

So, why should we care about these botanical conversations? As global populations rise, ensuring food security becomes paramount. By decoding plant language, we stand a chance to significantly enhance crop yields and resilience. If we can predict when a plant signals distress, preemptive measures can be taken before visible damage occurs, preserving the yield.

Moreover, understanding these processes paves the way for sustainable farming practices. Instead of relying heavily on chemicals, farmers can tap into the natural communication pathways of plants to bolster defense mechanisms or optimize growth. This not only reduces environmental impact but also ensures healthier produce.


The plant kingdom, once deemed silent and static, has revealed itself to be a cacophony of interactions, an intricate ballet of biochemical and electrical dialogues. Every rustle of the leaves, every sway of a branch, and every unfurling of a root might just be a part of a larger conversation.

At RyzoLux, we're not just offering plants; we present stories, individual chapters of this grand botanical narrative. Our range of plants, many of which exhibit these awe-inspiring communication methods, serve as windows into this complex world. As you nurture them, you're not just watering or feeding a plant; you're becoming a part of its story, its dialogues, and its world.