Is Sugar Water Good For Plants

Is sugar water good for plants? This is a very interesting question and one that leads to all kinds of fun facts about plants.

Even more interesting is how this myth plays out on the internet. In most cases, popular gardening sites promote the myth, but in this case they tell you NOT to use sugar water for plants, except in special cases. They then give a variety of reasons why sugar water is bad for plants, but these explanations are mostly wrong. They are creating new myths with their explanations!

Many of these writers ignore basic plant biology or are unaware of the correct facts. I’m going to try and sort this thing out for you.

Is Sugar Water Good For Plants
Is Sugar Water Good For Plants

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Myths About Straw And Hay In The Garden

What is the difference between straw and hay? I am always surprised at all of the misinformation that is spread whenever discussions start about using straw or hay in the garden. Which one has more weeds? Do they improve soil? Are lingering herbicides a problem? Should either be used in the garden?

The answers to these questions are quite simple if you first eliminate the myths and that is what I’m going to do in this post.

Myths About Straw And Hay In The Garden
Myths About Straw And Hay In The Garden, source: Bob Dluzen

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How To Add The Right Clover To Your Lawn

Turfgrass is losing its status as the golden child of groundcovers as gardeners look towards greener pastures. Clover has been getting a lot of buzz as a low-maintenance and eco-friendly lawn alternative or additive. Keep reading to find out what to expect from clover as a lawn alternative and how to add the right clover to your lawn.

 

How To Add Clover To A Lawn
How To Add Clover To A Lawn

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Till vs No-Till – Which Is Better For Your Garden

I started gardening a long time ago and at that time tilling was standard practice. Most gardeners did not have a tiller so they did it by hand with a shovel. In some circles the idea of not tilling started to make waves. My first introduction was Ruth Stout’s no-till garden. Just cover everything with straw. Better for the soil and a whole lot less work. No-till became more popular in agriculture in the mid 1990 but few gardeners followed suit. Even today, many gardeners have never heard of the technique and continue the practice of spring tilling.

No-till is claimed to be better for soil and the environment since it releases less carbon dioxide into the air.

I have been promoting this idea in gardening circles for 15 years or more and slowly the idea is catching on with gardeners, but it might be time to take a step back and have a close look at the claimed benefits of no-till because science now has a lot more data on this.

Till vs No-till - Which Is Better For Your Garden
Till vs No-till – Which Is Better For Your Garden

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When Should You Do Spring Garden Cleanup?

In years gone by it was common to clean up the garden in fall. It does result in a neat clean looking garden, but then we learned that all kinds of beneficial insects overwinter in that messy looking stuff on the ground, so we started to do cleanup in spring instead. To understand why, read this; Spring Cleanup Advice – Do it Right .

Now things have changed again. We are being told not to cleanup until temperatures are consistently above 10 C (50 F) to allow insects time to leave their winter protection. If you look at the recently circulated meme below, you have to wonder if this recommendation is valid. Does it really have to be 10 C? I see all kinds of insects when there is still snow on the ground. And what does “consistently ” mean? Is that nighttime or daytime temperature? Is it a daily high or low? How much harm will you do if it is only 9 C (48 F)? Is there any real science that supports this idea? Let’s find out.

When Should You Do Spring Garden Cleanup?
When Should You Do Spring Garden Cleanup?

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What is Finished Compost? The Answer Will Surprise You.

Gardeners have been making and using compost for hundreds of years and we talk a lot about “finished compost”, but what is it? When is compost really finished?

You can make so-called finished compost using a hot compost pile in a few months, but compost continues to decompose for many years. If it is not fully composted when it comes out of the compost pile is it really finished?

When I first asked this question I thought is was a simple one with a simple answer, but even science struggles to define finished compost.

What is Finished Compost? The Answer Will Surprise You.
What is Finished Compost? The Answer Will Surprise You, credit University of Colorado

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Growing Orchids in Water Culture – Is It A Good Idea?

I first came across water culture for orchids about 5 years ago. My immediate reaction was horror. I’ve been growing orchids for over 30 years and the thing that kills more orchids than anything else is overwatering. Now people suggest submersing the roots in water full time – that’s crazy – or is it?

Some people seem to be able to grow them well in water. The picture below is a large glass vessel containing several phalaenopsis orchids in water culture and they seem to be doing well. I am also part of a Facebook group dedicated to orchid water culture and I have personally tried both full and semi-water culture. In this post I will review the pros and cons of the technique and give you my impressions. I will answer the question, is this a good technique for growing orchids?

Growing Orchids in Water Culture - Is it A Good Idea?
Growing Orchids in Water Culture – Is it A Good Idea?

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Selecting the Best Potting Soil and Potting Mix

While creating some videos about potting soil (links below) I reviewed a lot of commercial products, looking at both ingredients and marketing claims. What a mess out there! It’s no wonder gardeners are confused when they go out an buy a potting mix. I created this post to try and bring some clarity to the situation.

I will go through a process of selecting a good product while pointing out the important issues and showing you what marketing gibberish you can ignore. This discussion applies to potting soil for houseplants, outdoor containers and starting seeds.

Selecting the Best Potting Soil and Potting Mix, credit: Pistils Nursery
Selecting the Best Potting Soil and Potting Mix, credit: Pistils Nursery

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Are Fungal to Bacterial Ratios (F:B Ratio) Important for Plant Growth?

It has been known for some time that the ratio of fungi to bacteria varies in different types of soil and in different plant communities. Forests have a higher ratio of fungi while grassland and agricultural soil is higher in bacteria. This has led to the idea that plants grow best when the fungal to bacterial ratio is matched to their needs. Gardeners should not only monitor their fungi to bacteria ratio, but also modify the soil to change it.

In this post I will look at the science support this idea.

Are Fungal to Bacterial Ratios Important for Plant Growth?
Are Fungal to Bacterial Ratios Important for Plant Growth?

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Fluoride Toxicity in Plants – Is Tap Water Harmful?

Many municipalities add fluoride to tap water and fluoride can be toxic to plants, so is this a problem? Is tap water harming your plants and what can you do about it?

A quick search on the internet reveals lists of fluoride sensitive plants – how sensitive are they and should you stop growing these if your tap wat has added fluoride?

Let’s have a look at the facts regarding fluoride and plants.

Fluoride Toxicity in Plants - Is Tap Water Harmful?
Fluoride Toxicity in Plants – Is Tap Water Harmful?, credit National Gardening Association

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Watering Plants in the Sun – Do Water Droplets Damage Leaves?

Common advice: you should not water the garden at midday because the water droplets act like magnifying glasses and will burn leaves. Is this true?

There are other similar beliefs that have nothing to do with plants. Many dermatology websites say that water droplets on skin will burn it. In the forest industry, it is believed that a rain drop can heat dry leaves to the point of ignition and cause forest fires.

Common sense and science will reveal the truth.

Watering Plants in the Sun - Do Water Droplets Damage Leaves?
Watering Plants in the Sun – Do Water Droplets Damage Leaves?

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Best Way to Fix Root Bound Plants, Before Planting

Many plants purchased from nurseries are root bound, also called pot bound, and the internet provides a variety of suggestions for dealing with this problem. Slice the sides, cut the bottom off, butterfly them or don’t do anything at all. Which method is best?

Is the best fix for this problem different for different kinds of plants? Should trees be treated the same perennials or annuals?

Let’s see what the science says.

Best Way to Fix Root Bound Plants, Before Planting
Best Way to Fix Root Bound Plants, Before Planting

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