Gardening Myths and Truths

Not every bit of advice that you get on gardening must be taken. While there are genuine suggestions on how to improve the growth of plants, there are also a host of myths that may or may not be true. Myths are nothing but ideas that have been passed down through the years or new practices based on scientific concepts. Here are a few myths that you may or may not choose to embrace.


Myth: Feed the plant that is under stress

Truth: Fertilisers are added to plants that grow in poor soils. Even plants that have symptoms of a lack of particular nutrients have fertilisers added to them. However, if a plant has enough nutrients, and is still fertilised, it can lead to more stress. Usually, the reason for a plant being stressed is not the lack of food. Heat, compacted soil, salt spray, improper placement and faulty planting are the real culprits.  Other climatic or environmental conditions must be ruled out before you decide that a plant is not adequately fertilised. Stressed plants consume the energy that is otherwise spent on fending of decay organisms, defending against pests or growing roots, when fed.


Myth: Newly pruned areas must be covered with paint, tar or varnish

Truth: Fungal organisms can’t possibly be kept out of new cuts. The use of wound dressings causes the heartwood of the tree to decay much faster than it otherwise would, without the topical application. The tar or paint will hold moisture close to the new wound. This in turn plays a role in helping the many fungal decay organisms grow. Instead, you may make a cut outside the collar of the branch and let it be. If the trees are pruned properly, natural defence mechanisms can be taken advantage of to ward off several decay problems.


Myth: Synthetic pesticides are more toxic than organic ones

Truth: Pesticides have the potential to be harmful when misused, regardless if they are synthetic or natural. For instance, chrysanthemums are used to make pyrethrum, but it is still toxic to pets and people when it is not handled properly. It is best to choose the control option that is least toxic, simply because these pesticides could cause serious health problems even though they may not be lethal. Harmful accidents can be prevented by storing these products safely. The directions on all labels must be read and followed properly. These products are not silver bullets or miracle workers, they are merely tools. They cannot correct any mistake made in selection of plants, their installation, or maintenance.


Myth: Newly planted trees to be guy-wired and staked

Truth: The development of trees can be hindered by staking. Unless a tree is planted on a sloped surface or a windy site, staking must be avoided. When a tree sways in the wind, the stabilising roots grow stronger. The tree might become dependent on support when staked, preventing it from developing a healthy and strong root system. However, if a tree can’t stand the wind, staking must be done, and the support must be removed after one season.


Andrew Williams is an expert associated with Addington Limited, a garden design company that provides full-design services and exceptional craftsmanship to transform outdoor spaces.


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