"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

From watering with ice cubes to spraying with hydrogen peroxide – 4 misleading plant health trends on social media

The Internet is stuffed with advice about every little thing, including plant care.

As Director of Plant Diagnostic Laboratory And a plant medicine specialist, I help people manage the health of their plants. Here are 4 trends I've seen online recently which can be particularly misleading or potentially harmful to plants.

Watering orchids and other plants with ice cubes

Several sites claim that ice cubes will be used to present orchids “just the right” amount of water. The fact is that tropical plants hate cold temperatures. Leaving Snow near the roots of orchids can damage them..

Orchids on ice?

Almost all houseplants, including orchids, will prefer warm or room temperature water around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Use fact sheets from academic institutions and reputable organizations to find out the correct quantity of water and watering schedule for the form of plants you're growing, after which set a reminder in your phone.

Use a potting medium that drains well and quickly. For orchids, A mixture of bark chips and sphagnum moss is better. More than 100% clay or cocoa coir.

'No Move May'

Many campaigns have been launched recentlyNo move may“The idea is to delay regular harvesting for the month of May to supply more places for pollinators to feed, which are attempting to burn off calories after winter hibernation.

Unfortunately, this process generally doesn't profit pollinators and may harm the health of your lawn. Here's why:

Mowing greater than 30% of the grass at one time isn't a great idea. Grasses depend on their blades to synthesize photosynthesis and meet their energy needs. When greater than 30% is lost at one time, plants may not have enough leaf surface area left to properly photosynthesize.

Overgrown lawns have denser root systems, which require more energy. results in failure to deliver Increased susceptibility to disease, poor water management and possible erosion. Such damage is just about inevitable after a month-long “no-mowing” period.

Few lawns even have enough flowers to be helpful to pollinators. For many individuals, the “perfect lawn” is an immovable green carpet. But this homogeneity is useless to bees and other pollinators that need it. Pollen and nectar that other plants can provide..

it's awesome Prioritize pollinator health.however the “no-mowing” trend is best applied in prairie, field, and wetland environments, where there may be plant diversity and an abundance of flowering plants.

If you need to support pollinator health in your yard, Plant native wildflowers. That pollinators will actually wish to visit. Most require less water and maintenance than grass lawns. Transform your entire lawn or perhaps a small strip. Any amount of lawn substitute is worth it – and can prevent water and money.

Be sure not to chop the wildflowers until they've bloomed. Wildflower patches normally need mowing a few times a yr. Cutting after the last frost in early spring will spread the previous yr's seeds and Provide a home for insects to spend the winter..

Use of hydrogen peroxide to treat plant diseases

hydrogen peroxide Disinfects surfaces and can reduce bacteria and some fungi.. But the rapid response that provides hydrogen peroxide its antiseptic properties occurs immediately after it comes into contact with other compounds. This doesn't allow the hydrogen peroxide to maneuver throughout the plant.

So most pathogens—organisms that cause disease—is not going to be affected in the event that they are within the plant's tissues and never on its exterior. Excessive or improper use of hydrogen peroxide also can occur. Make plant health problems worse By drying surfaces and killing helpful microbes.

While there may be actually a time and place in plant take care of disinfecting surfaces — equivalent to your pruning shears and propagation tools — the very best defense against plant diseases is proper maintenance.

Water your plants only when needed and supply adequate light and nutrients. Research what your plant likes from academic institutions or other reputable sources. Regular mowing to extend air flow, proper plant spacing, avoiding monocropping and crop rotation are some examples of chemical-free techniques. Reduce plant stress and disease susceptibility..

Virtual diagnosis?
Sanja Radin/E+ via Getty Images

Diagnosis of diseases using phone apps

There are many apps that use user-submitted images to discover plant diseases and offer solutions.

The truth is that to diagnose most plant diseases, a scientist must culture plant tissue to appropriately discover the pathogens. Only after proper diagnosis Can they suggest management solutions?. I even have a fairly strong opinion here, because disease identification is what I do on daily basis. Plant symptoms related to one disease could also be virtually similar to those of one other.

Photographs of four different plants with curled leaves labeled for herbicide exposure, virus, insect feeding and fungal infection.
The same symptom will be brought on by many various problems.
Bugwood.org, CC BY-ND

For example, herbicides, viruses, insect feeding and fungal infections can all cause curled and deformed leaves. To properly diagnose an issue, the plant's history, location, site history, time of yr, and other aspects have to be considered before I can determine what could also be contributing to the symptoms.

Don't depend on an app to predict what disease your plant may need – and don't follow bogus recommendations. Instead, contact your local university's diagnostic lab or extension office for assistance.

Not sure where to go? Start with Lab Directory of the National Plant Diagnostic Network. Many people, including myself, offer free advice and proposals. If you submit a sample to a diagnostic lab, most are inexpensive – my lab fee is US$20 – and it should be value it, especially once you consider the associated fee of replacing the plant with something that has That would be the problem in any case.