It’s a common myth that layering gravel on the bottom of a pot will improve drainage. ATTRIBUTION: Pixabay – AKuptsova

Many gardening tips and tricks are passed down from generation to generation. Much of what I know about gardening was taught to me by my grandfather. Along with advice on how to choose the right plants, eliminate weeds, and fertilize the lawn, my grandfather unknowingly passed down many garden myths. In an effort to set the record straight, I’ve debunked some of the most common garden myths out there.

Feed Your Roses with Banana Peels

Many gardeners think they’re doing their plants a favor by “feeding” them banana peels. It’s believed that the peel of the potassium-rich fruit promotes flowering and delivers a hefty dose of sulfur, magnesium, calcium, and phosphates into the soil. However, burying whole peels can actually have a negative effect on your roses. As the peels break down, they absorb significant amounts of nitrogen from the soil resulting in less nitrogen for plants.

Improve Drainage with Gravel

It’s a common misconception that placing a layer of gravel at the bottom of a flower pot before planting will improve drainage – this one really made sense to me. But, instead of helping the plant, gravel creates a barrier. As water is added to the soil, the soil acts like a sponge and holds the water until it becomes saturated. Once saturated, the water normally would go out the holes on the bottom of the pot. If there is gravel at the bottom of the pot, the water “perches” in the soil just above the gravel. The plant is then forced to sit in soggy soil and has less room due to the gravel.

Talk to Your Plants to Help Them Grow

Can talking to your plants actually help them grow? The theory was first discussed in a book written in 1848 by German professor Gustav Fechner. Since then, there has been much speculation on plants’ ability to respond to stimuli. Despite the various scientific studies that have been conducted on the topic, there is no conclusive evidence that talking to your plants will help them grow stronger, fuller, or faster.

All New Trees Need to Be Staked

Small trees can be fragile, especially when first planted. To prevent them from falling over with the first harsh wind, many gardeners choose to stake their trees in an upwards position. However, unless you have particularly windy weather or the tree is top-heavy, there is no need for staking. In fact, have some movement is good for young trees and encourages the trunk to grow stronger and thicker. Staking young trees can actually cause the trunk to remain skinny and weak.

Apply a Wound Dressing on Pruned Areas

Pruning removes damaged, dead, or diseased branches from trees and can help prevent insect and decay organisms from entering the tree. Unfortunately, fungal organisms can enter the tree through the new cut. To prevent this from happening, some gardeners apply a wound dressing such as varnish, paint, or tar to the freshly-pruned area. Instead of helping the tree, this strategy can encourage the tree to decay faster by holding moisture near the new wound. Avoid dressings and simply make a clean cut just outside the branch collar.