Myth: Sunshine focused through water droplets can burn leaves. ATTRIBUTION: Zachary Caudill (Flickr)

Myth: Sunshine focused through water droplets can burn leaves. ATTRIBUTION: Zachary Caudill (Flickr)

Gardening dates back to ancient times, when fruits, nuts, and roots were gathered for survival. Over time, many myths have become associated with gardening, often resulting in wasted time, money, and effort. The following common gardening myths have been debunked by scientific research and are completely false.

Coat Pruned Branches to Ward Off Disease

It was once common practice to apply a sealant over newly pruned tree branches. Coating the “wound” with tar, varnish, or paint was thought to protect it from disease. The problem with this practice is that the coating prevents the cut branch from properly healing and forming a callus. The sealant also holds moisture around the wound, which can aid in fungal decay. It’s best to make a clean cut and leave the branch alone.

More Fertilizer Will Help a Plant Grow

When it comes to fertilizer, it is thought that a little is good, more is better. But adding too much fertilizer to your garden can actually have detrimental effects. It’s crucial for gardeners to follow the instructions printed on the fertilizer bag regarding how much product to use. As fertilizers contain salts, too much can lead to toxic levels, burning the roots of the plants and stunting their growth.

Organic Pesticides Are Safer than Synthetic Ones

Natural is thought to be safer, but this isn’t always the case in gardening. When misused, pesticides can be harmful whether they’re organic or synthetic. Many homemade organic pesticides contain up to 20 percent vinegar. While the vinegar is often effective at killing the tops of the plants, it doesn’t always reach the roots. Vinegar is also toxic to toads and frogs. When possible, always choose the least-toxic control option, and always read and follow label directions.

Gravel Promotes Better Drainage

Gardeners have been putting gravel, stones, and broken pieces of pots at the bottom of plant containers for decades. Filling the bottom of containers with these items is thought to encourage proper drainage. Evidence shows that this standard practice is not only a waste of time but can also restrict plant growth. Soil holds moisture better than gravel, and as long as there is a hole at the bottom of the container, the water will find its way out.

Newly Planted Trees Need to Be Staked

It’s common to see saplings held in place by stakes. This practice can actually weaken trees and hinder proper tree development. Trees that are allowed to freely sway in the wind will often grow thicker, lower trunks than trees that are staked. The branches of non-staked trees are also thicker and do not grow as tall. Staked trees often rely on the support of the stake, preventing the root system from strengthening to its full potential.

Sunshine Through Water Can Burn Plant Leaves

For generations, many gardeners have believed that solar rays focused through water droplets have the potential to burn foliage. Truth be told, sunlight is not powerful enough to cause burning. As a rule of thumb, the best time to water most garden plants is in the early morning hours due to a lower evaporation rate. Watering your plants at other times of the day, however, will not cause any harm.