Digging to the Bottom of Growing and Planting Myths: Fact or Fiction?
April Fool’s Day may be over but with Spring finally upon us, we thought it would be fun to highlight some common garden and planting myths. With the planting season here, some of these may be obvious to you but it can never hurt to brush up on your planting knowledge and see how much you know! Some silly, some helpful…no matter what, read on and you’re sure to learn something new!
Slugs and Beer
Ever heard anyone in your gardening circle talk about using beer to attract and kill slugs? It may sound like an old wives tale, but it’s actually true! The yeast in beer attracts the slugs and when they fall into the container that holds the beer, they will drown. There are other remedies to slug problems, but this homemade solution is worth a try before purchasing any expensive and potentially harmful pesticide to rid your gardens of slugs. Cheap beer will do just fine…no fancy microbrews needed!
Plastic or Clay?
Maybe you’ve heard the debate between gardening friends over whether plastic or clay pots are better. One may jump to clay as the obvious answer, but this is a myth. Clay pots cause moisture in the soil to evaporate faster than plastic pots, so this can be problematic for people who do not water often, or have a hard time remembering to water houseplants. If a grower is a heavy-handed waterer, then clay may be a better option, but to be sure your plants are getting the moisture they need, opt for plastic pots over clay ones.
To stake or not to stake
We’ve all seen it—new saplings and small trees planted and tied up with stakes and guy wires. While it may seem like a logical thing to do in order for the tree to get a good, straight start to growing, it is actually best to avoid staking unless you live in an area of high and consistent wind speed. Staking a young tree can actually hinder its proper development. If the young sapling is supported by stakes and wires when it’s young and not allowed to sway in the wind and natural elements, the root structure can be underdeveloped and not provide the stabilizing root system needed for the tree to grow strong and tall.
Peonies and ants
This was a new one for me, as I always thought that the tiny ants found crawling over large, tightly bound peony buds helped them open up, but apparently that’s not true! If you grow peonies, you are well aware of the presence of tiny ants that live all over the large, pretty plants once they start to grow. However, the ants are not really doing anything but hanging out! Some people think that the peony blossoms secrete some sort of sugary substance that attracts the ants but who knows if this is really true because once the blossoms open, the ants tend to disappear! Florists will also tell you that peonies open just fine when in their shops or greenhouses, so it’s not true that the ants are “helping” the plant to bloom.
How low should you go?
Another common planting myth is to dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the root ball of the plant. Not true! While you should make the hole about twice as wide, you should not make it any deeper than the root ball. The rule of thumb is to make sure the hole is no deeper than the top of the root ball, which should be about parallel to the soil surface. Once the hole is dug, simply place the soil back into the hole and put about two inches of mulch around the altered area. Do not put mulch in the actual hole; mulching the top soil is good enough.