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Busting common garden myths

Myth: Buried banana peels give roses a potassium boost. Busted: Bananas and their peels do contain high levels of potassium, an essential nutrient that roses—and all garden plants—need for everything from stimulating growth to producing flowers. Any organics added to the soil helps, but burying whole peels can also backfire. As soil microorganisms work to break down the peels, they extract significant amounts of nitrogen from the soil, which results in less nitrogen for greening up plants. The best place for banana peels is in a compost pile, where they can break down alongside other nutrient-rich table scraps. To give plants the balanced nutrition they need, top-dress with compost instead.

Myth: Drought-tolerant plants don’t need watering. Half-Busted: Drought-tolerant plants may need less water than other plants, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never have to pull out your garden hose. If the garden or container soil around your plant is dry, water it. Young plants are especially susceptible to drought because their roots are getting estab- lished. Be vigilant about keeping soil slightly moist, but not soggy, through- out a plant’s first year, regardless of its reputation for resiliency.

Myth: Pinch off all blooms of annu- als before planting. Busted: In many cases pinching is no longer an absolute must because today’s commonly available bedding plants are bred to be more compact with continuous blooms. So, you don’t need the pinch to manage growth or promote another flush of blooms.

Myth: Annuals and perenni- als won’t grow under evergreens because dropped needles make the soil acidic. Busted: Not true. The acidity of soil depends mostly on the underly- ing bedrock. The real reason plants don’t thrive under evergreens is the soil’s extreme dryness and low fertil- ity. That’s because the trees cast dense shade, take up most of the available moisture and nutrients, and shed rain- water to the edge of their canopies, keeping conditions dry below. For success beneath evergreens,

choose shade and drought-tolerant plants such as alyssum, sedums and ajuga, water and fertilize regularly and mulch to preserve moisture. Or try planting your plants in pots under the trees, they will be able to maintain moisture without competing with the trees. The best thing is to put gravel beneath the trees. s

Save the Monarch Butterfly

Plant Milkweed

Ontario Gardener magazine has launched a campaign to help save the monarch but- terfly. You can help by planting milkweed at home to attract butterflies, as it is the only plant upon which the butterflies will lay their eggs. We are offering free seeds to those who want to get involved. For more information, visit us at:

To advertise in Ontario Gardener

call 1-888-680-2008 or email for rates and information.

Spring 2016 • 47

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