4 Gardening Myths Debunked + How To Solve Common Houseplant Problems
Did you know that overwatering your plants is a thing?
One of the most surprising things that came out of this quarantine is the rise of plantitas and halamoms. It may be because we’re spending most of our time at home and are doing everything we can to upgrade our humble abode, or we are just now appreciating the beauty of gardening. Either way, we’re bound to encounter some issues while tending to our plants, like browning leaf edges or drooping leaves.
OneLife.ph spoke to Dave Ang, an environmental advocate and the person behind The Sustainable Gardener PH, whose main advocacy is food security and environmental sustainability. Read on to know why your houseplants are experiencing these problems, their possible solutions, and common gardening myths you may be blindly doing.
Common problem #1: Leaves that are turning yellow or brown
Reason: “Yellow/brown leaves are usually caused by overwatering,” says Dave. You may be watering your houseplant too often or the soil system itself is not good.
Solution: “It’s better to change the potting mix that will provide good aeration and moisture,” suggests Dave. He also explains that there should be no definitive schedule in watering your plants. “It's always better to check the soil if it's still wet/moist before watering. Always remember that underwatering is better than overwatering your plants,” he adds.
Common problem #2: Wilting leaves
Reason: If you are experiencing this problem, you might want to check your plant’s sun exposure. “Wilting leaves are usually caused by too much sunlight or too little sunlight,” Dave says. “While some plants require six hours of sunlight a day, some require only a shaded area to grow.”
Solution: Dave recommends researching about the houseplant first, ensuring its sun exposure requirements before deciding where to place it in the house.
Common problem #3: Powdery mildew
Reason: Sometimes, you’ll notice white powdery spots on leaves, stems, fruits, or even vegetables. “Powdery mildew is a fungal disease usually caused by dry climates and high humidity,” says Dave.
Solution: To wash spores off the leaves, you can try watering from overhead. If this doesn’t work, Dave says you can spray your plants using a mixture of 1 teaspoon baking soda with 1 quart of water. “It will kill the fungus that it comes in contact with,” he adds.
Common problem #4: Too many mosquitoes
Reason: In case you didn’t know, mosquitoes are attracted to a yard that gets a lot of watering. “They breed in still, stagnant water -- any plant or tree that has leaves that can hold water can immediately attract these pests,” Dave adds.
Solution: Prevent mosquitoes from inhabiting your home by eliminating the places where they can breed. If you have stagnant water in your home such as those in your flower vases, you have to replace them at least once a week.
It also helps to invest in plants that repel mosquitoes like rosemary, basil, lemon balm, lemon grass, and mint.
Common problem #5: Spotted leaves
Reason: These occur when fungal spores in the air find a wet plant surface to cling on to. “Too much moisture and poor air circulation are two things that cause fungus to flourish,” says Dave.
Solution: “To prevent these, try watering the soil instead of the foliage. Also, don't forget to leave enough space between your pots for good air circulation.”
Debunking gardening myths
If you’re a beginner in gardening, you might be confused about all these rules to make your plant grow. However, not all of these are facts. Dave debunks gardening myths to help your green thumb flourish.
Myth #1: You have to change your potting soil every year.
Gardeners, specifically from the older generations, worry that the nutrients found in potting soil would not last more than one growing season. However, most types of soil can stay rich for up to two years. Dave says, “If you’re concerned that your potting soil is low on nutrients, work a few handfuls of compost into the pots at the start of each year. This should keep your plants growing strong.”
Myth #2: Having gravel at the bottom of your pot helps it drain and prevents waterlog.
“Water will sit in the soil above the stones. This means there will be less space for the roots of your plants to grow,” says Dave. “A more effective draining method is to blend sand and stone into the soil itself.”
Myth #3: You should water your plants daily.
While it is true that container plants must be watered daily, landscape plants do not require the same. “It is better to water a couple of times a week and to irrigate deeply,” Dave suggests. “You want roots to grow deep so plants are more self-sufficient during dry periods.”
Myth #4: Organic pesticides are safer than synthetic pesticides.
Even organic garden products contain toxins that can be harmful to plants. Dave emphasizes, “If misused, natural poisons such as pyrethrin are hazardous to people, pets, and the beneficial inhabitants of our gardens, such as frogs and bees.”