Garden Myths - Learn the truth about gardening

Archive for the Plants Category

Spring Bulbs – When Is The Best Time To Plant?

Almost every gardener grows spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus. Millions of new bulbs are sold every year and yet people do not agree on the best time to plant them. Some want to plant early, as soon as they arrive in shops. Others say that you should wait until the ground gets an early frost. Some wait until the ground is fully frozen, but that is usually because they forgot to plant earlier.

A couple of years ago I was in a large nursery that specialized in spring bulbs. It was early September in a zone 5 climate and a manager told me not to plant the bulbs for a couple of months until we had a light frost. I looked him in the eye and asked about the bulbs I had planted in prior years – they were already in the ground. Do they need to be dug up so I could re-plant them after frost? He did not have an answer.

Lets have a look at the science and figure out when you should plant spring bulbs.

When is the best time to plant spring bulbs?

When is the best time to plant spring bulbs?

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Do Houseplants Increase Oxygen Levels?

Houseplants have a great reputation for purifying the air in our homes. In Air Purifying Plants – Do They Work?,  I debunked the idea that houseplants remove VOCs (toxic chemicals) from our home – it is just a well publicized myth. Several people commenting on that post and the post called A Garden Myth is Born – Plants Don’t Purify Air, to make the point that plants do more than remove chemicals – houseplants increase oxygen levels in the air. This increased oxygen contributes a lot to our well being – or so people claim. Do houseplants increase oxygen levels in the home?

House plants don't increase oxygen levels in the home.

House plants don’t increase oxygen levels in the home.

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Walnuts, Juglone and Allelopathy

The common statement “nothing grows under walnut trees” is not true. “Walnuts produce juglone”, is not entirely true either. “You need to compost walnut wood chips before using them in the garden”, is false. “The allelopathic properties of walnuts are well understood” – definitely not true.

This is a popular subject that is routinely discussed and written about, but the truth around walnut trees is anything but clear.

Black Walnut - Walnuts, Juglone and Allelopathy

Black Walnut – Walnuts, Juglone and Allelopathy

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Sunscald on Trees – Prevention

It might surprise you to learn that trees do get sunscald or sunburn and the remedy is not an SPF 30 lotion. Sunscald on trees usually happens on the south or south-west exposed bark. The bark is damaged and in severe cases can result in the death of the tree.

Historically, sunscald has been prevented by wrapping or painting the trunk of the tree. Do these preventative methods work? Are they still recommended? Time to have a closer look at the problem.

sunscald on sugar maple tree, prevention, by Robert Pavlis

Sunscald on a sugar maple tree, by Robert Pavlis

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Hydrangea Myths

Hydrangeas are very popular shrubs for the garden, but they can be a bit tricky to grow if you listen to all of the hydrangea myths on the internet and in books. In this blog I will look at the truth behind some of the more common hydrangea myths. Once you have the facts, you will find that hydrangeas are easy to grow.

Hydrangea myths, is it blue or pink?

Hydrangea myths, is it blue or pink?

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