Does WiFi Kill Houseplants?

Spoiler alert: No.

To come to that conclusion, which runs counter to the combined wisdom of several recent YouTube videos, [Andrew McNeil] ran a pretty neat little experiment. [Andrew] has a not inconsiderable amount of expertise in this area, as an RF engineer and prolific maker of many homebrew WiFi antennas, some of which we’ve featured on these pages before. His experiment centered on cress seeds sprouting in compost. Two identical containers were prepared, with one bathed from above in RF energy from three separate 2.4 GHz transmitters. Each transmitter was coupled to an amplifier and a PCB bi-quad antenna to radiate about 300 mW in slightly different parts of the WiFi spectrum. Both setups were placed in separate rooms in east-facing windows, and each was swapped between rooms every other day, to average out microenvironmental effects.

After only a few days, the cress sprouted in both pots and continued to grow. There was no apparent inhibition of the RF-blasted sprouts – in fact, they appeared a bit lusher than the pristine pot. [Andrew] points out that it’s not real science until it’s quantified, so his next step is to repeat the experiment and take careful biomass measurements. He’s also planning to ramp up the power on the next round as well.

We’d like to think this will put the “WiFi killed my houseplants” nonsense to rest – WiFi can even help keep your plants alive, after all. But somehow we doubt that the debate will die anytime soon.

72 thoughts on “Does WiFi Kill Houseplants?

  1. You have a typo in this sentence: “…combined wisdom of several recent YouTube videos,…”

    The word -wisdom- should be in quotation marks.
    The trees, BTW, under the cell tower near my house seem to be thriving.

    1. While I don’t believe cell tower radiation hurts plants (there is one very closer to a forest I frequent), it is worth pointing out towers generally don’t broadcast straight down.

      1. No they dont point straight down, but they do point more down than up. Most of then have a beam span from 90degrees to the horizon downward. there is zero point in radiating upwards unless in a high rise city, it is just a waste of RF power.

    1. It’s not only youtube scientists. Whether microwaves cause X is a perennial science topic with real researchers as well, because it’s easy to irradiate lab rats with high power radio transmitters (hundreds of watts of RF energy) and observe that they do in fact develop cancer and other ailments simply out of the physical stress of being blasted with so much energy that it has the real property of heating their internal organs.

      So, you get to show a statistical effect associated with microwaves, but it’s too weak to say whether it has any implication to anything, but that doesn’t matter because “more studies are needed” aka. “gimme $$$”.

      Even if the same study has been done a hundred times by now, they always find some new excuse to do it again – like claiming that the new modulation techniques in 5G radios have some magical property of causing cancer because the bit pattern aligns with your DNA or something crazy, and again “more research is needed”.

      1. anytime I see a study that “causes rats to get cancer”, I think about all the pet rats that I’ve seen die from truly horrible cancers

        my rats, which I ended up having to put down and friends who’ve asked me to put down their rats have all developed tumors

        1. Lab rats develop tumors from saline injections – they’re genetically prone to cancer, which is why they’re used in cancer research because you’re guaranteed that they have some. The point is to check whether they get more cancer because of a thing, or there’s no statistically significant difference.

          1. here in Australia most pet shops will not sell you rats, mice or rabbits if they think you are going to feed a reptile or frog

            also getting a snake here is a “process”, you need permits and stuff, there are hoops to jump through

      1. The effort to “cure cancer” has only managed to tie up so many serious researchers into publicity and money drives, politics and bureaucracy, that it has actually slowed the whole process down. So many people spend so much time simply “raising awareness” that they fail to actually come up with any solutions.

  2. The YouTube whizdumb insists that it’s the particular modulation of the wifi that kills plants, so this presumably CW radiation does not prove that “they” are killing us with “dirty” waves. Particularly alarming is 5G, which operates on a COMPLETELY different principle (it’s in the special Citizen Subjection Band). Same idea that normal 60 Hz sine waves are OK because we’ve been bathed in them for 100 years with no ill effects, but today’s newfangled ‘lectronic stuff puts out dirty spikes which disrupt DNA, cause autism, and make children disobedient and cats whizz on the carpet.

    When you lecture these whistleblowers on the inverse square law their eyes just glaze over; math is hard, Barbie. Same with explaining antenna patterns; they’d feel safer in the main beam far away instead of right under an antenna in the null.

    Is fluoride in the water the cause of this plague of stupidity?

    1. Data point of one, but I drink fluoride treated water and I’m arguably not an idiot. Nor am I prone to conspiracy theories or miracle products. I do upgrade my phone too frequently though.

      1. But you’re arguably prone to developing white spots on your teeth, and weaker enamel. (dental fluorosis)

        Fluoridating the water supply is a carpet bomb approach that typically does just as much harm as good, because the amount of fluorine that people actually get is highly variable and while some benefit others get too much.

        1. Which is why the amount that is added takes into account any natural levels measured in the water and augments them with supplements to bring the level to a range that is beneficial for low or high use people. Some won’t get as much benefit as others, but no one gets levels that are harmful, although no one gets as much as could be beneficial. Which is why having it in toothpaste helps too.
          This isn’t rocket science. The target levels aren’t determined by someone who thinks they’re a youtube scientist.

          1. fluoride in water helping with tooth decay was discovered here in South Australia, the ground water in Port Lincoln has 5 – 10 times what is normally in drinking water or toothpaste

            full disclosure, tap water here in SA is horrible!

            We have the best renal unit in the world and Adelaide is one of two cities ships do not take on water, the other is Buenos Aries (did I spell that right?)

          2. Yes, that’s in theory. In practice the amounts added are not very finely controlled or measured, and they can’t be because there are so many confounding factors.

            >” Some won’t get as much benefit as others, but no one gets levels that are harmful”

            Today some 40% to 60% of people have dental fluorosis to some extent because of fluoridated water. You don’t get fluoride only from the water, but also in your diet, and since it’s added to this and that and the other thing, and dentists used to encourage people to take fluoride pills, people end up taking too much.

            Fortunately the harm in most cases is cosmetic only, unless it is found out that small excesses of fluoride intake have other issues. In any case, the dentists are making bank over it because people then come in to get their teeth bleached evenly and get rid of the splotches.

            The question is, does adding these levels of fluoride really help? The effect on adult caries is questionable, and the issue becomes whether it is morally permissible to put chemicals in peoples’ drinking water so they don’t have a choice. It helps to reduce cavities by about a quarter to a third in children with no other access to fluoride, like from fluoridated toothpaste or supplements, but with the rest it has no appreciable effect. It just costs a ton of money.

  3. That’s nonsense.
    Some time ago I’ve pulled a short utp cable that was connected on my WiFi router and it fell from the shelf on a small pot with some flowers that was near the router.
    According to my wife that destroyed some of the flowers (from my perspective they just semed a bit shorter than before, but I’m not a flower expert, so maybe WiFi just affects the height, I dunno).

  4. this is right up there with, wait for it

    “water boiled in a microwave kills plants/stops seeds from sprouting”

    even after I showed that it was bullshit, they were still going on about “microwaves are killing us”

    1. You should have offered to sell them a homeopathic remedy of copper powder cast in epoxy under a new moon in the shape of a crystal to revitalize their microwaved products.

      Complete with reviews from single parents, longhaul truckers & some guy with a ‘phd’ from a degree mill.

  5. As a keen follower of conspiracy theories, it seems like the particular configuration of the YouTuber’s WIFI has caused them to become stupid. The answer would be to re-calibrate their routers such that the RF emissions start to repair, rather than damage, their brain’s neural networks?

    1. At first yes but after a generation their reproductive rate starts to drop sharply.

      The first generation sprouted in the presence of WiFi develops somewhat of an addiction to our horticulture sites, their porn making them spend far less time on actual pollination.

      Subsequent generations discover online dating sites. They lose the ability to meet and pollinate one another naturally IRL and instead spend their whole lives writing fake profiles so they can chat with one another for hours on the end with the pretext of looking for a pollination partner but never having the roots to actually do something about it.

      Eventually they go beyond just being too afraid to meet IRL for pollination. They come to see even approaching one another let alone suggesting pollination as rude and sexist.

      Finally they all die out and you have an empty pot.

  6. Of course WiFi kills houseplants! They just have the mechanism wrong.
    It kills houseplants by distracting the user with pervasive internet access.
    They forget to water the plants.
    This kind of experiment will fail to find that because it focuses the experimenter on the plants.

  7. “We’d like to think.” Sadly accurate. Did they stop teaching critical thinking in school? Too many willing to believe the sensational over the scientific, even in the face of credible tests and research. I really despair sometimes. Then I watch old episodes of Black Adder and try to forget about it.

    1. Meh. People bought Refer Madness didn’t they? Look at how many “old wives tails” turned out to be bull. People have been accepting religion since pre-history. What makes you think there was some golden age where people thought more critically?

      1. The problem now is that the nonsense travels as fast as the sense. And there are more sources of nonsense than there are sources of sense. We’re all subject to lapses in critical thinking.

      2. >” People bought Refer Madness didn’t they?”

        Joke’s on you: Reefer Madness was an exploitation film. It was re-cut after it was made to change the story, and in reality it was a case of “We want to make a film about gangsters and drugs and sex, but the studio won’t let us”. In hindsight, it looks like ham-fisted propaganda because it now exists outside of its original context, where films about morality were really about sneaking a peek of a naked lady. Different times.

        And, there IS a link between cannabinoids and schizophrenia.

  8. My advice to those inclined to attempt debunking ANY crazy thing on YouTube: don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It is usually unsuccessful and only frustrates the teacher and annoys the pig.

    You can’t explain that magnets don’t descale water when you can’t even convince them the earth isn’t flat.

  9. Its about the frequency the phase and the amplitude. The electromagnetic wave hit the electrons the electrons hit the lattice and the wave goes on as a sound wave or the other way around. So one wave is interlinked with another wave. If you have a strong enought wave of one type it will automatically create a wave of another type. An extreme example would be a atomic bomb which creates quite some waves with frequencies ranging from the atomic level up to molecular level up to the macro level with high enought amplitudes to rip everything in range appart. In simple words. Another extream example would be zero kelvin point where kind of all the interlinked and normaly semingly seperate waves colapse to kind of one wave, and then you stop that wave, the more you stop that wave the more waves colapses into this wave. Thats how i picture it.
    With 5Ghz its a wavelength of 6cm, this ensures that at least one full wave fits inside your head no matter from which angle the wave comes. Then you can work with amplitude modulation to introduce many different frequenzies into the brain to influence its frequency state off it.

    1. Waves…how do they work?

      HAARP (2/3 of it at least) is now owned and operated by the U of Alaska, as part of their plan for World Domination.
      Obama’s Weather Machine is still in the basement of the Smithsonian (next to his Time Machine), because Trump can’t find the keys for them. Current thinking is that Obama left Trump an email, telling him where they were, but Barron re-imaged the machine with Linux.

    2. Dear sir,
      To do so, you need to modulate your wave from a sine wave to sine wave + evil wave.
      The problem is that communication signals (like 4G5G, etc.) have strict modulation scheme to actually transmit information.
      You can probably add a high frequency RickRoll song (search on youtube, you will find it, it’s quite interesting on its own. It should be as well known as White noise at this point.) but then, you are not using your 4G, 5G, etc., you are just creating an electromagnetic weapon.

  10. In a long past on a published local electronics hobby magazine one of the experiments was exactly to submit a vegetable to an (electric) field, with the intent of see it thriving more than without it. Maybe living things may make good use of some kinds of radiation after all…

  11. My question is, if it were determined that wifi was a health hazard, would anyone stop using it?

    Wasn’t there a yahoo answers screenshot floating around about a lady that was convinced her ceiling fan was “blowing her wifi” out of the room? People really have no idea how any of this works, and we live in the disinformation age.

    1. Some microwave ovens use a similar paddle arrangement to break up standing waves in the cooking cavity, called a mode stirrer. Otherwise you’d get hot spots in the food. Most others turn the food.

      A metal ceiling fan could conceivably propagate interfering multipath signals, which could result in repeatedly losing the signal…. conceivably.

      1. I’m pretty sure the only people who say daylight saving fades curtains are the ones who are are attributing it to the sort of people who oppose to daylight saving time in order to discredit them.

  12. All spearmint grown in the world is from plants exposed to Radiation in a post war experiment with circular rows of food crops set around a tower holding fissile material. This spearmint is in almost all toothpaste, fluoride or not.
    Spearmint-experiment, we are all lab rats! So I use baking soda and peroxide.

    1. Some radiation is coded with death modulation, depending on whether the government is targeting you. 5G is especially harmful, as it is targeting the death of everyone who refuses to vaccinate.

      Or so I’m told. YouTube is such a wealth of information.

  13. Dear Dan,

    With much of a hectic thought, I was always afraid if my Money Plant at my computer will die because of the WiFi Router signal it has beside the table.
    Glad that it didn’t came true.

    Variably, signals are not much good for healthy. Yet, I think, the manufacturers are really putting thoughts on this.

    Can I add more plants to the list? Whereas I am planning to increase the power of the WiFi router very soon.

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