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7 Terrible gardening tips to ignore

Sometimes, advice passed down through the years is just plain wrong. Avoid these gardening mistakes and improve your green thumb status.

1. Buried banana peels are good for roses.

Bananas are great for boosting the body’s potassium, but they’re not very good at helping plants. According to the gardening experts at This Old House, buried banana peels steal the nitrogen that plants need to green up. Instead, put peels in a compost pile — compost will give your roses the nutrition they need.

banana peel

Image: Getty Images

Myth: When mushrooms grown in a lawn, the soil is deficient. “False,” says Celeste Longacre, author of Celeste’s Garden Delights.

2. Coffee grounds give shrubs the acidity they need.

Like buried banana peels, coffee grounds use the soil’s nitrogen to decompose. If you’re trying to increase the acidity of your soil, pick up some sulfur-based soil acidifier instead.

used coffee filter and grounds

Image: Getty Images

Myth: Bars of soap deter deer from eating your plants. “False,” says blogger Carrie Leber.

3. Organic is always safe.

“No, it’s not,” says David Marciniak, owner of Revolutionary Gardens in McLean, Virginia. “Non-selective organic insecticides will decimate beneficial insects right along with the ‘bad’ ones. And some organic products can harm humans if not applied correctly.”

spraying pesticides on flowers

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Myth: Cornmeal kills fire ants. “False,” says Dave Forehand, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

4. Gravel in the bottom of flower pots improves drainage.

Even the most seasoned gardener may be surprised to learn that placing gravel in the bottom of a container actually promotes, rather than prevents, root rot by pushing the moisture up higher. Skip the stones and opt for lightweight potting soil that contains bark or other coarse materials.

Woman planting tree

Image: Getty Images

Myth: Clay pots are better than plastic pots. “False,” says Forehand.

5. Drought-tolerant plants don’t need to be watered.

That little tag that reads “drought-tolerant” doesn’t let you off the watering hook, according to Celeste Longacre, author of Celeste’s Garden Delights (Amazon, $20). Less water does not mean no water. All plants, particularly young plants, prefer moist soil that is neither soggy nor parched.

drought tolerant plant

Image credit: Getty Images

Myth: The best time to kill weeds is in the summer. “False,” says Longacre.

6. Tomatoes and peppers cannot be planted next to one another.

Who comes up with this stuff? “Tomato plants and pepper plants have similar growth requirements,” says Dee Merica of Natural Alternative® organic lawn care. “They can be grown successfully together.” (And they taste good together, too!)

tomatoes and peppers

Image credit: Getty Images

Myth: Chewing gum gets rid of gophers. “False,” says Merica.

7. “Full-Sun” plants only grow in all-day sun.

“False,” says Merica. “Full-sun plants can grow beautifully with just three hours of sunlight per day.” Those full-sun, part-sun, part-shade guidelines are more flexible than you thought.

flowers in sunlight

Image credit: Getty Images

Myth: Hostas only grow in the shade. “False,” says Longacre.

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