Top 7 Garden Myths

The internet was all abuzz recently as people debated whether “girl” and “boy” watermelons existed. They weren’t talking about the flowers, which would have made at least some sense, but the actual fruit. 

How the rumor started is unknown, but we can assure you there’s no need to plan a gender reveal party if you’re growing the fruit in your garden.

In fact, watermelon plants are monecious. This means that a single plant produces both male and female flowers. The male flowers are smaller and have long, thin stalks, while the female flowers have a wider ovule that, if fertilized, will develop into a watermelon.

The online hubbub got us thinking: What are some other garden myths due for a good debunking?

Here are our top 7.

House plants significantly clean the air

While it’s true that houseplants can absorb gaseous pollutants such as formaldehyde and ammonia through their leaves, the amount is small compared to the volume of air in a room, and the absorption rate is slow. Even if your house is a veritable jungle of houseplants, you’ll still require proper ventilation. 

Adding sugar to the soil makes vegetables sweeter

Plants produce carbohydrates, including sugar, through photosynthesis. Even if you added sugar to your soil, after the microbes broke it down, it would not be in a form available to plants. The best way to get sweeter vegetables is with nutrient-rich fertilizer and adequate water, which help counter environmental stresses that can affect sweetness. 

Burying banana peels around plants will supply them with extra potassium

Without question, plants need potassium to thrive — as the University of Minnesota Extension notes, “Potassium is associated with the movement of water, nutrients and carbohydrates in plant tissue.” It can also affect the rate of photosynthesis. That said, while banana peels do contain potassium, they take a long time to decompose. Adding banana peels to your compost bin is a more efficient approach.

Adding coffee grounds to the soil will help your plants grow faster

Though some plants like the extra acid coffee grounds provide, including azaleas, hydrangeas, blueberries, and carrots, others can be harmed by it. HGTV says that coffee grounds can inhibit the growth of geranium, asparagus fern, Chinese mustard and Italian ryegrass. Before you grab that free bag of used grounds from your local coffee shop, be sure to research the specific needs of your plants first.  

Using household products like milk or aspirin helps fight plant diseases

There’s little scientific evidence to support these practices. Instead, applying milk or aspirin can actually be harmful. Think about it: Milk is an organic substance that decomposes over time. This process can introduce harmful bacteria and fungi to the soil and potentially damage the plant’s roots. As for aspirin, it is acidic so using it might upset the soil balance. But more than that, it’s just plain ineffective.

You can't grow vegetables from kitchen scraps

While not all vegetables can be regrown from kitchen scraps, plenty can be and it’s a sustainable approach to gardening. Green onions, romaine lettuce, and celery can sprout from root ends; Bok choy and cabbage from vegetable tops. (On a whim, I planted half a red onion in my garden, and it grew a nice, if slightly deformed, crop.) Tomatoes and bell peppers will grow when you dry their seeds and plant them in most soil. Fun fact: the seeds from store-bought tomatoes and peppers are unlikely to produce the same variety as the parent plant. Chalk that up to hybrid varieties and unpredictable seed traits, aka plant genetics.

You need two fruit trees of the same variety to get fruit

Like watermelon, many fruit trees — including figs, some varieties of pears, and most varieties of citrus — have both male and female flowers and can pollinate themselves. However, sweet cherries, plums, and most apple varieties require a pollinator. 

With all the information about gardening swirling around, perhaps the biggest myth is that you can believe everything you read or hear. To avoid being misled, consult a trust, local source, like your garden shop pros, county extension, or master gardeners.


Leave a comment