AAs a scientist with a passion for horticulture, I am often deeply torn by gardening advice. Sometimes I feel like we’re incredibly limited by set rules that have no real basis and that can not only deter people from growing, but actively set them up to fail. Breaking free from it, and embracing the fact that there are as many gardening techniques as there are gardeners, is therefore essential to advancing the art.
However, just when I start to put myself firmly in the “horse for lessons” camp, something inevitably happens – usually starting on social media, then quickly recycling into slots on daytime TV. – which explodes the pedantic geek in me into Hulk-like fury. Perhaps nowhere more so than in the world of indoor plants. So, in order to protect my screens at home from my urge to throw things at them, here are the three best howlers I’ve seen this season.
First things first: watering your plants with the cold water left over from cooking the rice will get rid of the fungus gnats. Indeed, as their name suggests, fungus gnats live on mold that can grow on the surface of the compost. Adding a bunch of easily digestible carbs in the form of rice starch will actually cause a boom in fungal growth and also the gnats you are trying to get rid of. Simply adding a layer of gravel to the surface to prevent this growth, or using a soil-based (rather than compost-based) growing medium would be just as easy – and much more effective.
There is also a claim that wiping the insides of banana peels on the leaf surface of your plants is a great substitute for leaf shine. Let’s take a look at why someone thinks they have to use leaf shine in the first place. This lacquer spray made from waxes (and sometimes silicones) was very popular in the 1970s and 1980s to give the foliage of large-leaved plants a patent leather sheen. At best it has no effect on plant health, at worst it can clog the tiny pores they use to breathe and really hamper their growth. Banana peels contain water, sugar, and starch grains, so the thin layer of moisture they add may induce temporary shine for a few seconds, but the second it dries, it creates a sticky surface that traps dust and reduces shine. Total waste of time.
Finally, there’s a lot of talk about which plants to use in the bedroom, based on the idea that some can suck oxygen out of a room at night and harm the health of those sleeping there. . Now, if that were true, camping in a forest would be deadly. And given the tiny amount that houseplants breathe and the fact that bedrooms aren’t sealed rooms, the negative effect they would have would be less than 1/1000th of that of sharing your bed with someone. a. So take the ones you like and as many as you want.
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