Busting garden myths
Myth: Perennials won't bloom the first year, especially bare-root. Half Busted!: With modern breeding and growing techniques, this is no longer true. Go ahead and plant bare root and potted perennials now and enjoy those blooms the first year, assuming you don't plant them past the time they naturally would bloom. However, if you buy a potted perennial that requires over-wintering, then you will have to wait through the first winter to get the desired blooms. It's best to inquire from the seller to find out what to expect that first season after planting.
Trees & Tree Care
Myth: Prune the tops of transplanted trees to compensate for root loss.
Fact: Pruning retards the establishment of transplanted trees. Leaves make food through photosynthesis, so taking away a good portion of foliage inhibits growth—and may also ruin a tree’s natural shape.
Myth: Newly planted trees require staking.
Fact: Unless your tree is top-heavy or in an especially windy site, it does not need staking. A little movement is actually good for young trees. Just as our muscles grow larger with exercise, tree trunks grow thicker and stronger when they're allowed to move. Staked trees tend to grow taller, but their trunks are skinny and weak, so if you decide to stake, be sure to stake as loosely and as briefly as possible. Rarely is staking necessary for longer than six months. Use something soft, such as a length of garden hose, against the tree bark to keep from cutting into it.
Myth: Backfill planting holes with fresh soil.
Busted: You need to refill holes with the existing soil. That is the soil the plants will need to live in and if you give them a different soil around the ball, the roots will stay in the softer soil and not grow out into the harder surrounding clay soil.
Myth: Painting pruning cuts protects trees from disease and insects
Busted: Professional arborists gave up the practice of painting tree wounds and pruning cuts years ago. The fact is, there's little evidence that pruning tar, or any other compound, prevents disease or insects from entering tree wounds. Research even suggests that this practice slows trees' natural healing process of sealing cuts with a tough layer of "woundwood." The best ways to avoid damage are to make clean cuts with sharp tools and prune during late winter, when diseases and insects are dormant. However, white washing the base of trees does help with splitting. The sun bounces of the snow and splits bark on the south side, this will help. Myth: Sprinkling coffee grounds around acid-loving shrubs lowers the soil's ph
Half Busted: It helps some soils, and also houseplants, but whether it is helpful or not really depends on your soil type. Coffee grounds are acidic, and mixing them into the soil can affect ph—slowly. But here's the catch: Fresh coffee grounds can inhibit plant growth because they tie up nitrogen in the soil as they decompose (just like banana peels), if large quantities are added. To lower your soil's ph without causing a nitrogen deficiency, purchase a sulfurbased soil acidifier (available at garden centers) and amend soil following the package instructions. Many popular shrubs, including azaleas, heathers, rhododendrons, and blueberries, will appreciate soil with more acidity.
Myth: Adding fertilizer to the hole helps transplants establish faster
Busted: No fertilizer, or other soil amendments, on hand? No worries. Adding them to a planting hole isn't necessary and, in some cases, can actually discourage a vigorous root system. Nutrient-rich planting holes can give roots less incentive to branch out to absorb nutrients and moisture from the surrounding area; and fertilizers, including the phosphorus-rich fertilizers frequently marketed for new transplants, contain salts, which can burn tender new roots.