Gardening Tips & Trends to Ghost

It's scary how many erroneous gardening tips and trends haunt the internet these days. You don't have to be a paranormal investigator to see what I'm talking about, just pop onto any discovery page on social media and about 50% of what you see is complete bullshit or at the very least, bad gardening advice. 

Let me grab holy water and some sage (homegrown, of course), and clear up any bunk gardening trends you might have seen.

Succulents indoors. Just, no. I know you've all seen those ubiquitous images on pinterest of an indoor table with succulents "planted" in the center. This is not an adequate growing environment for succulents, since succulents want to grow outdoors in an arid or semi-arid location. It's important to grow plants in the way THEY want to grow, mimicking their native habitats. Sure, there are always situations where we can fudge these rules and have a happy plant - but it's not a great growing practice and often doesn't last. 

Here is another example of ghostly gardening - you know those lovely pumpkins planted with succulents and moss? Those are made with a hot glue gun and botanically conflicting environmental needs (does moss, that loves growing in shade and wet conditions, really want to chill out with desert-loving succulents... Nope, they don't). If you love the look of succulent pumpkins, succulents on driftwood, etc. consider thinking of this as a long-lived flower arrangement. These succulents are in the process of dying once you buy it, but the succulent pumpkin will look nice for weeks, but they often won't last. This is not gardening - it's more tablescaping. 

Prune back everything in the fall. Oof, this is a frightening gardening tip. First off, there are about 380,000 known plant species in the world - obvi they don't all want pruning at the same time of the year. Think of gardening as an opportunity to attune to that specific plant, and learn to garden with that philosophy in mind. Also keep in mind the seasons and weather. One year you might be pruning your roses in December, but another year the weather might dictate you pruning in early February. Being flexible, reading up on the specific plant, and experimenting is the best practice when it comes to seasonal pruning. 

Air Ferns can grow in the bathroom. OK, first off - they are "air plants", not ferns. Tillandsia are epiphytes, a genus in the Bromeliacea family, that grows in forests, mountains and deserts - making it a relatively versatile plant for a home gardener. But with the rise of seeing fake tillandsia zerographica in a cute little dish by the bathroom sink - folks often think they can grow anywhere. Again - good gardening practices offer us an opportunity to grow plants how they want to be cultivated. For air plants, they want bright light, humidity if you have it, and air circulation. If your bathroom is windowless and dingy, you will not be growing any plants in there. If you have a big bright window that opens, this could be an excellent environment given the bits of humidity it gets from the use of the shower. My trick to helping air plants thrive is to toss them on the floor of my shower once a month, and allow them to be fully saturated in warm water. (Do not soak them in a bowl of cold water, they don't like that) After they have been watered, I shake them a bit, arrange them back on their shelf, and open the window for a nice breeze. It's not the Caribbean, but they grow and flower throughout the year with this technique. 

Home Depot, Trader Joe's, Walmart are great places to buy plants. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! You're not really buying plants (or flowers) from conglomerate discount mega stores, are you? Although it maybe tempting, contributing your money by buying plants from these locations tells Agri-business that you favor these companies over your local nursery, farmer's market or garden shop. Maybe this is true - maybe you couldn't care less. This contributes to the closure of many family-owned and operated farms that have poured resources into their local communities through jobs and a local economy buying cycle. Most large chain discount stores purchase from out of state, and rarely sell organic or sustainably grown plants and flowers. Think of it as factory-farming for plants - intense amounts of waste, synthetic chemicals, and huge amounts of resources used. Environmental and human safety be damned - I want my $9.98 bunch of peonies from Trader Joe's! I get it, a good price is a good price. But consider your local community and our environment when you go to grab that plastic-wrapped potted basil in January from Home Depot.

(Hot tip - basil does not naturally grow in January. So how is it there?) 

You need a scary amount of money to garden. That rumor is as fake as those Halloween decorations on your front porch. Sure, to have a certain type of landscape, there is an investment. But to garden - to really connect with the earth and grow something lovely - it's free. Free seeds, cuttings, even free plants and pots are abundant. Simply hunt around, ask a neighbor or you local nursery for anything they are tossing out. You might not be getting the hottest perennial of the year - but you'll be able to learn, tend to, experiment and connect with nature.

Ain't nothing spooky about starting a little garden for free.