COMMON GARDENING MYTHS, DEBUNKED!
Gardening is one of the oldest and most fulfilling hobbies around, so it’s not surprising that myths have sprung up about tips and hacks people use to flex their green thumbs. Whether you have an extensive outdoor garden or just a few indoor potted plants keeping you company, here’s the truth behind some of these pervasive gardening myths…
MYTH: Adding coffee grounds to the soil helps fertilize acid-loving plants.
Plants such as rhododendrons thrive in acidic soil, which has a low pH level. Since coffee grounds are acidic, burying them at the base of your plants can acidify the soil, but it takes a long time. Another downside is that fresh coffee grounds leech nitrogen from the soil—nitrogen that your plants need to grow.
FACT: There are several ways to lower the pH of your soil
Before trying to acidify your soil, see if you can figure out what is raising its pH level. You may be using the wrong fertilizer, which could be an easy fix. Still not acidic enough? Try a soil acidifier such as or similar products you can find at your local hardware or garden store.
MYTH: Rocks in the bottom of your pot can help with drainage.
Gravel at the bottom of a planter does collect draining water, but the water is absorbed into the soil and stays put higher up in the pot as a result. Water sticking around at a higher level increases the chance of your plant’s roots rotting.
FACT: Try using coarse material mixed into the soil.
Pine bark works well, as does peat moss, or you can use any high quality potting soil containing perlite. Perlite is rock, but unlike bottom gravel, it’s much finer and actually mixed into the soil for maximum drainage. You can also try using a taller planter, since water will naturally drain farther from elevated roots.
MYTH: Planting marigolds in your garden will ward off aphids, rabbits, and other garden pests.
Marigolds are a gorgeous addition to any garden, but you shouldn’t expect them to do all the heavy lifting. Aphids are actually drawn to their yellow colors, and rabbits will attack your plants if they’re hungry enough, despite their aversion to a marigold’s scent.
FACT: Marigolds can help save your garden crops from harmful nematodes.
Marigolds, especially the French variety, interact with the ground where they’re planted to reduce the presence of nematodes that eat root vegetables and other food crops. Plant your marigolds well before you plant your crops, then move the flowers to a new spot when you settle your veggies into the nematode-free soil your marigolds leave behind.
MYTH: Mist the leaves of your indoor plants in winter to humidify them.
This myth is rooted in the truth that our homes are typically very dry in winter. While plants can suffer in overly dry climates, misting really doesn’t help. It only raises plant humidity for a few minutes, so it’s barely worth the effort.
FACT: The more the merrier!
Plants naturally produce moisture, so you can easily raise your home’s humidity by bringing an abundance of plants inside to hang out with each other. No room for extra plants? Try turning your thermostat down at night to minimize air dryness, or move your plants into a naturally humid area like the laundry or shower room. A humidifier can also help your plants survive the dry winter.
MYTH: Burying a bottle of bourbon in the garden will keep the rain away on your wedding day.
This Southern tradition stipulates that couples have to bury a full bottle of bourbon upside down in the garden at the spot where they’ll be married precisely one month before the big event. Don’t like whiskey? Try it with your favorite bottle of wine or sparkling apple cider. Even if it doesn’t work every time, it’s still fun for couples to share a few moments digging in the dirt together before and after their wedding!
FACT: Change your orchid’s home for a plant pick-me-up.
Orchids often want bigger pots than the ones they came in from the store, so upgrade to a larger, well-draining planter and invest in a special orchid mix potting soil. This coarser mix will help you keep your orchid wet when it wants to be and dry when it needs to be, giving you years of enjoyment. Still using the ole ice cube trick for watering? Skip it. Ice can drop the temperature of the plant, causing it stress. And none of us need more stress in our lives!
Have any gardening myths you’d like debunked?! We’d love to dig deeper!