Garden Myths - Learn the truth about gardening

Archive for the Plant Care Category

Orchids – Do They Need Water?

More orchids are killed by over watering than for any other reason. It begs the question, how much water do they really need? How long can an orchid go without water?

I know they grow slowly and react slowly to their environment. They also die slowly. I decided to see if an orchid needs to be watered regularly.

Orchid without water - day 1, by Robert Pavlis

Orchid without water – day 1, by Robert Pavlis

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Styrofoam Cones – Do They Keep Roses Warm in Winter?

As winter approaches, we worry about our poor plants making it through the cold. All manor of wrapping devices are used to protect them and Styrofoam cones, also called rose cones, have become popular in recent years. Do these contraptions work? If they do, how much warmer do they keep your plants?

There is a lot of talk on the internet about Styrofoam cones. Many extension offices recommend them, and suppliers certainly tell you they work, but I was unable to find a single source of information that actually provided data to support the idea that Styrofoam cones keep plants warmer in winter.

So I decided to do some testing of my own.

Temperature changes with and without a Styrofoam Cone, by

Temperature changes with and without a Styrofoam Cone, by

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Double Dormancy In Seed – Does It Exist?

In a previous post, Seed Dormancy – Are Seeds Really Dormant?, I discussed Seed Dormancy and presented a new way for gardeners to look at seed development and seed dormancy. Today I would like continue the discussion by looking at double dormancy and ask the question, does it really exist?

If you plant some peony or trillium seed in the fall you won’t see any green growth until the second spring – if you’re lucky. This is routinely described as an example of double dormancy – the seed needs two cold periods before they germinate. The two stratification (cold) periods over come two dormancies, hence the name, double dormancy.

But is this really true? Do seeds like peony and trillium have have double dormancy? Does any seed have a double dormancy?

double dormancy, Peony grown from seed, by Robert Pavlis

Peony grown from seed at Aspen Grove Gardens, by Robert Pavlis

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Seed Dormancy – Are Seeds Really Dormant?

I have always been fascinated with seed germination and seed dormancy. The idea that a complete plant can be grown from a small hard nugget of cells has to be one of natures best creations. As you become familiar with seeds you soon realize that the germination process is not as straight forward as you might think. For many plants you just can’t take seed, plant them, and have germination in a few days.

Every seed seems to require its own process for germinating. Some need to be stratified, some scarified, and some need cold-warm cycles. There are many options for getting seed to germinate and I’ll discuss these in a future post.

The term ‘dormancy’ is used to describe a seeds reluctance to germinate; or more correctly seed dormancy to distinguish it from plant dormancy. The seed lies dormant until environmental conditions are favorable for it to germinate – or at least that is the impression you are left with. But is the seed really dormant? What does dormancy really mean? Good questions that I’ll try to answer in this post.

seed doemancy, plant development diagram, gardenmyths

Plant development diagram, developed by

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Watering Orchids With Ice Cubes

Many of you think orchids are difficult plants to keep in the home – they are not! The correct amount of water is critical, and to try and simplify watering someone came up with the bright idea that if you put an ice cube in the pot once a week, the orchid would prosper. The intent here was good. Make the watering procedure as simple as possible, so people can follow it. Unfortunately, it is a really stupid idea!

I’ll show you a much better way to water your plants – a method that keeps my orchids blooming all year long.

Watering Orchids With Ice Cubes 2

Watering Orchids With Ice Cubes, by Robert Pavlis

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