Can Plants Be Harmed By Electricity?

To be fair, not all forms of electricity are beneficial to plants.  For example, I’d like to take a moment and share with you a snippet from a 2011 science report, “The effect of a direct electric current on the germination and growth of seeds of Phaseolus vulgaris, Raphanus sativby and Cucumis sativus and growth and development of seedlings of cultivar of Capsicum annuum” by Dinara Gabdrakhmanova and Celine Quissiny of University High School.

66kV AC Powerlines can be dangerous to plant health

“Some researchers found the negative effect of electrical plant stimulation. The Genetic and Cytology Department, part of the National Research Center of Egypt did an experiment on the effects of an extremely low frequency electric field on plant growth. An experimental model with field (50 Hz, 6 kV/m strength) and the high voltage transmission lines passing through an open agricultural field (50 Hz, 66 kV/11 m = 6 kV/m) were investigated on mitosis, meiosis and pollen grains viability in the wheat plant. The results indicated that the plants in both systems had a large number of chromosomal abnormalities and changes in the morphological characters, as the stem length increased but the spike weight and the number of grains in the spike decreased”.(1)

In this and in other studies, the effect of AC has been shown to be harmful to plant life, when both applied directly, or even from a distance, even many meters away.  In only a very narrow set of circumstances it has been found to be beneficial.

On the other hand, in the YouTube video:, the researcher Steven Magee explains that his houseplant that should normally have leaves the same size as his hand has much smaller leaves due to the presence of a cell phone tower close to his home.  Interestingly, by growing the plants directly connected to a 1.5VDC source, the plant growth was greatly improved!


Hanafy, Magda S., Hanan A. Mohamed, and Elham A. Abd El-Hady. “EFFECT OF LOW FREQUENCY ELECTRIC FIELD ON GROWTH CHARACTERISTICS AND PROTEIN MOLECULAR STRUCTURE OF WHEAT PLANT.” ROMANIAN J. BIOPHYS. 16.4 (2006): 253-71. Romanian Society of Pure and Applied Biophysics, Aug. 2006. Web. 25 Nov. 2010.

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