While it’s definitely not a good idea to violently shake your plants, research supports how occasional, gentle shaking (emphasis on gentle) can initiate an inherent gene response to physical stimuli at a cellular level, activating mechanisms that support cell wall growth, nutrient-sensing, and even immune defense. Thigmomorphogenesis is considered an “adaptive trait associated with increased fitness,” meaning plants that demonstrate this response are poised to survive — and thrive — more than ones without this trait. Shaking your plants is backed by science and has been demonstrated to allow not only healthy growth but also controlled growth. For those who have ever dealt with weirdly bent trunks, stunted leaf growth, or leggy plants straining under their own weight, gentle shaking can help ward off and even retroactively fix these less desirable characteristics.
The serene and quiet demeanor of houseplants, as opposed to the constant and easily noticeable activity of any furry friends we share space with, often makes it easy to forget that our green gods and goddesses are sophisticated, highly attuned beings. Each species, just like every individual human being, has its own unique, specific needs. And anyone who’s ever gone to great and maybe even bizarre (like watering your plants with milk) lengths to keep their finicky Calathea in one piece knows just how fickle some species can be. Enter: the fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata).