Sunday, July 3, 2022

The Bulb Blog: Debunking Common Gardening Myths

Gardening is an age-old practice that has been passed down through generations. While there is a bounty of information that we so appreciate learning, there are also quite a few tips and methods that we’d like to keep from being passed around any further. Many are well-intentioned but they can potentially do more harm than good.

So, to keep yourself from any unnecessary headaches down the road, be sure to avoid putting these five common gardening myths into practice.

Myth #1: Epsom Salt Cures All

Ah, the Epsom salt garden myth. Epsom salt has long been said to do everything from encouraging rose blooms to preventing blossom end rot and has even been used as pest control somewhere along the line.

This is one of the most common gardening myths around, and we are here to dispel it for you.

Epsom salt is a chemical compound that consists of magnesium and sulfur, which Brent’s father used to enhance the pink colors in daffodils. While plants do need these nutrients, they generally don’t need a large amount of them, and thus we don’t tend to add magnesium to soil on its own.

The same goes for sulfur. You can test your soil to see if it is deficient in these nutrients, but the best way to amend your soil is simply by regularly adding organic matter like compost—no Epsom salt required!

Myth #2: You Should Braid, Tie Back or Remove Daffodil Foliage After Blooms Are Spent

Braiding, tying back, or chopping off daffodil and tulip foliage is a common gardening myth.

Some believe that braiding, tying back, or…even worse, chopping off daffodil foliage as soon as their bloom cycle completes is an excellent way to avoid its ‘unsightliness.’

But this is just downright bad advice. The leaves on bulbs act as solar collectors. They need exposure to both sunshine and water to create the energy required to feed the bulb so it can come back even more spectacular the following year.

By braiding, tying, or removing that foliage, you are taking away that plant’s ability to do its job. While you can deadhead spent blooms, avoid cutting back foliage until it has done its job for the season (once it has turned yellow or brown, you are safe to remove it!)

Myth #3: You Should Add Gravel At The Bottom of Planters to Promote Drainage

Adding gravel (or broken terra cotta pots is another popular suggestion) is basically like planting in a smaller pot.

Since soil acts a bit like a sponge, water will not drain through it until it is completely saturated, and since you have less soil, the soggy bottom ends up closer to your plant’s root system, which can actually lead to root rot.

The best way to prevent drainage problems is to simply select high-quality potting soil and ensure the pot you choose has adequate drainage holes. Note: If the soil is completely dry, place the pot of dry soil in a bucket of water until it has absorbed moisture before planting.

Myth #4: Add Sand to Amend Clay Soil

This is another common gardening myth intended to improve drainage but ends up having the opposite effect.

Since clay particles are so much smaller than sand particles, the clay particles will work their way in between the sand particles and create even worse drainage than you started with. The best way to amend clay soil is to add nutrient-rich organic matter.

Myth #5: Watering On A Hot, Sunny Day Will Sunburn Foliage

While it is true that it is best to water in the morning or evening, it’s not because your plants will get a sunburn!

According to this common gardening myth, water droplets can create ‘lenses’ that focus the sun’s rays and, in turn, burn plant foliage. But, the reality is that water evaporates off of plants far too quickly for this to happen.

This is also why it still makes the most sense to water in the morning or the evening. It’s just generally more efficient as water will make it into the soil instead of evaporating.

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