Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Fake News From the Garden: 5 Plant Myths Debunked

Food
Pixabay

By Brian Barth

Did you know that you can tell the sex of a bell pepper by how many bumps it has on its bottom?


Actually, you can't. But lately, plenty of Internet memes on Pinterest and elsewhere suggest that you can. The problem with this claim is that bell peppers are not male or female. Botanically, it's a meaningless statement. The flowers of some plants can be classified as male or female, but peppers are not one of those plants—their flowers have both male and female parts.

There are actually quite a few garden myths floating around out there. Let's deflate a few.

You might have seen this meme floating around the Internet. It's not true.

Droopy Plants Just Need Some Water

This is certainly logical, and it's often true. But several other things can cause wilting, including disease and insects or rodents gnawing on the stem. Better to stick your finger in the soil first to make sure it's actually dry before inundating a droopy plant with water. If disease is making the leaves wilt, excessive water will only make it worse.

When Planting a Tree, the Bigger the Hole the Better

Tree planting instructions often say to dig the planting hole twice as wide and deep as the root-ball. This is hogwash, and can actually shorten the life of the tree. If you loosen the soil under the root ball, the tree will slowly sink as the soil settles, causing the base of the trunk to be below grade — a sure-fire way to end up with fungal diseases. Make sure the rootball is on firm soil when you plant. You can dig a wide hole if you want, but this, too, is unnecessary.

Pine Needles Acidify the Soil

A number of popular garden plants, including blueberries, rhododendron, azalea, and gardenia, grow poorly unless the pH of the soil is fairly acidic (they like a pH in the 4.5-5.5 range). Some parts of the country have naturally acidic soil, especially in high rainfall areas like the Deep South. Perhaps because there are so many pine trees in the Deep South, the notion that easily available pine needles can be mixed into the soil to lower the pH took root. But it's baseless.

Bloom Booster Fertilizers Make More Flowers

On the garden center shelf, you'll find many fertilizers, both organic and synthetic, claiming to promote bigger and more bountiful blooms. These products are invariably high in phosphorus, which does have an indirect relationship to flowering but is just one of many things that a plant needs to flower profusely. Furthermore, phosphorus-deficient soils are rare, and adding more phosphorus to soils that already have plenty has no impact on your plant's flowers. Excess phosphorus is a pollutant, however, and if your plants aren't absorbing it from the soil it will likely end up in the nearest waterway.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Deserted view of NH24 near Akshardham Temple on day nine of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus on April 2, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India is home to 21 of the world's 30 most polluted cities, but recently air pollution levels have started to drop dramatically as the second-most populated nation endures the second week of a 21-day lockdown amidst coronavirus fears, according to The Weather Channel.

Read More Show Less
A Unicef social mobilizer uses a speaker as she carries out public health awareness to prevent the spread and detect the symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus by UNICEF at Mangateen IDP camp in Juba, South Sudan on April 2. ALEX MCBRIDE / AFP / Getty Images

By Eddie Ndopu

  • South Africa is ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic in Africa.
  • Its townships are typical of high-density neighbourhoods across the continent where self-isolation will be extremely challenging.
  • The failure to eradicate extreme poverty is a threat beyond the countries in question.
Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The outside of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Md. on Nov. 9, 2015. Al Drago / CQ Roll Call

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of two malarial drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, despite only anecdotal evidence that either is proven effective in treating or slowing the progression of the disease in seriously ill patients.

Read More Show Less
Some speculate that the dissemination of the Antarctic beeches or Nothofagus moorei (seen above in Australia) dates to the time when Antarctica, Australia and South America were connected. Auscape / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

A team of scientists drilled into the ground near the South Pole to discover forest and fossils from the Cretaceous nearly 90 million years ago, which is the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
The recovery of elephant seals is one of the "signs of hope" that scientists say show the oceans can recover swiftly if we let them. NOAA / CC BY 2.0

The challenges facing the world's oceans are well known: plastic pollution could crowd out fish by 2050, and the climate crisis could wipe out coral reefs by 2100.

Read More Show Less