From watering via ice cubes to spritzing with hydrogen peroxide – 4 misguided plant health trends on social media

The internet is full of advice on just about everything, including plant care.

As the director of a plant diagnostic laboratory and expert on plant medicine, I help people manage their plants’ health. Here are four trends I’ve seen online recently that have stood out as being especially misleading or potentially damaging to plants.

Watering orchids and other plants with ice cubes

Multiple sites claim ice cubes can be used to give orchids a “just right” amount of water. The fact is tropical plants hate cold temperatures. Leaving ice near an orchid’s roots may damage them.

Orchids on ice?

Nearly all houseplants, including orchids, will prefer lukewarm or room temperature water, about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Use fact sheets from educational institutions and reputable organizations to determine the correct amount of water and watering schedule for the types of plants you’re growing, and then set a reminder on your phone.

Use a potting medium that drains well and quickly. For orchids, a mix of bark chips and sphagnum moss is much better than 100% soil or coco coir.

‘No Mow May’

Many campaigns have sprung up recently promoting “No Mow May.” The idea is to delay regular mowing for the month of May to provide more feeding sites for pollinators, which are trying to shore up calories after their winter hibernation.

Unfortunately, this practice usually does not benefit pollinators and could damage your lawn’s health. Here’s why:

Mowing more than 30% of a grass leaf at once is never a good idea. Grasses depend on their blades to photosynthesize and meet their energy needs. When more than 30% is lost at once, the plants may not have enough remaining leaf surface area to photosynthesize properly.

Overgrown lawns have overgrown root systems, which require more energy. Failure to provide it leads to increased susceptibility to disease, poor water management and potential collapse. Such damage is pretty much unavoidable after a monthlong “no mow” period.

Few lawns actually contain enough flowers to be beneficial to pollinators, anyway. For many people, the “perfect lawn” is an unwavering green carpet. But that uniformity is useless to bees and other pollinators that require pollen and nectar that other plants can provide.

It’s great to prioritize pollinator health, but the “no mow” trend is best implemented in prairie, field and wetland environments, where there is a lot of plant diversity and flowering plants.

If you’re looking to support pollinator health in your own yard, plant native wildflowers that pollinators will actually want to visit. Most require less water and management compared to grass lawns. Replace your entire lawn or even a small strip. Any amount of lawn replaced is beneficial – and will save you water and money.

Make sure not to mow the wildflowers until they’ve finished…

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