Myth #1 – Clematis need their roots shaded. Not so. Clematis are no more fussy about the temperature of their roots than any other perennial. So why has this myth persisted? Clematis are routinely planted deeper than many other plants to avoid clematis wilt; a fungus that enters through cuts, insect damage or even from plant ties rubbing on the stalks. Planting the root ball 8 cm (a little over 3 inches) below ground-or so at least two buds along the stem are buried-will help the plant grow deep, healthy roots which in turn will feed a tall, healthy plant better able to fend off disease. In colder climates clematis are often planted slightly deeper to prevent winter kill. Since soil gets cooler the deeper one digs, this has likely led to the myth that clematis must have cool roots. In truth, they do not need any cooler roots than any other perennial.
Myth #2 – Watering orchids with ice cubes will kill them. Not only have studies proven this wrong, so has my sister-in-law. She grows amazing orchids and swears by the ice cube method. Every Sunday she places three ice cubes on the surface of each pot of orchids. Opponents argue that orchids are a tropical plant used to hot temperatures, making ice cubes cruel and unnatural. Those in favour point out the slow drip is similar to condensation dripping from a rain forest and the ice water will have warmed up by the time it reaches the roots. The real success likely lies in the precise measurement of an ice cube. Overwatering kills thousands of innocent orchids every year. If you were to measure three ounces of water out to your orchid once a week, that would probably work equally well. The choice is yours.
Myth #3 – Watering on a sunny day will burn leaves. The theory goes that water droplets act as miniature magnifying glasses, causing the sun to scorch the leaves. While that makes sense to anyone who has angled a magnifying glass on a sunny day and burned a wooden surface, anyone who has spent time in nature can see the fallacy of this notion. Quick sudden rain showers followed by intense sunshine are natural, frequent, occurrences. If sun shining on rain droplets really burned the leaves, all of nature would look scorched instead of vibrant and green.
Myth #4 – Use Sand to Amend Clay Soil. Not only is this a recipe for disaster, it’s a recipe for concrete. It seems like it should work; clay holds water, while sand provides excellent drainage. Mixing the two should result in a balanced planting medium. It should, but it doesn’t. Instead the clay packs itself firmly between the grains of sand, causing the soil the soil to turn rock hard and about as far from the loamy garden soil of your dreams as one can get. All your tears of frustration will do nothing to loosen its hold. But wait…there is a magic ingredient that can turn the whole mess around. Compost. Work copious amounts of compost into clay or sand and you will be growing prize worthy roses and tomatoes before you know it.
Myth #5 – Nasturtiums repel Aphids. Nasturtiums are a staple of companion planting guides, touted for their ability to keep your garden free from aphids by repelling the sap sucking creatures. The truth is nasturtiums do not repel aphids, they attract them. They’re like a candy crop used to divert the aphid’s attention from your vegetables. Nasturtiums protect your vegetables the same way placing a bowl of M&Ms in your garden might keep the neighbourhood kids from raiding your pea patch. It works wonderfully, just not in the way you may think!