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Popular Garden Folklore: Fact or Fiction?

1-2185-1273935666XfXD1. Peonies need ants to bloom.

Ants like the peony bud sap, but the blooms will open with or without ants. The ants serve a purpose though: once attracted to the peonies, the feast on insects that can harm the peonies. Wise Mother Nature! FICTION

2. Roses like buried banana peels because they increase soil potassium.

Soil microorganisms breaking down those banana peels extract nitrogen from the soil to complete their job, so the soil can end up deficient in nitrogen along the way. Not a plus. Composting the banana peels first is the way to go, then spread the compost around the roses. FICTION

3. Slugs love beer.

They do!! Bury pots of beer in the soil. The slugs will slither right in, and drown drinking the beer. FACT

4. Azaleas and rhododendrons benefit from buried coffee grounds that increase soil PH.

Yes, azaleas and rhododendrons like soil acidity, but reference the banana peels. The break-down process steals nitrogen from the soil, and the actual increase in acidity from the grounds is slight and slow.  Choose a soil acidifier from your garden center. FACT and FICTION.

5. Aspirin helps plants deal with stress.

 Yes, as repeated studies have demonstrated. Salicylic acid, initially derived from willow bark, the active ingredient in aspirin, helps plants cope when dry, underfed, under insect attack, or diseased. Crush one to two aspirin in a gallon of water and water every three weeks over the growing season. FACT

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