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Apart from the old wives tale that if you pick dandelions you will wet the bed, what is the worst old wives tale or piece of mis-information you have heard of about plants and gardens?

star gaze lily

Don't know wether its true, but my mum wouldn't cut Lilac and have it indoors....she said it was unlucky


I've heard that about May, never about lilac.

I think you could blame the French for the dandelion thing...........pissenlit

Actually tho, I think it is supposed to have diuretic qualities isn't it ?  You probably have to eat plenty for it to have any effect tho

I also haven't  heard the Lilac one but had heard that lillies were only fit for a funereal flower ?


Ma used to worry when we brought lilac into the house - it grew wild around the farm so I'm afraid it didn't stop me picking it and bringing it in.  I am so definitely not superstitious!!!

The worst piece of mis-information about plants I know of is that myth that if a rose has more than 5 leaflets it's a sucker - so many wonderful species of roses have more than 5 leaflets - I've known someone destroy a wonderful rosa glauca that had been tenderly nurtured after the death of the gardener of the family as it was 'a sucker and would never come to anything!!!' 



I will be in for it after you read some of these. (tin hat ready) More in depth evidence is available so i can back them up.

Crocks in pots improve drainage.

The verdict False: a drainage layer in the bottom of pots reduces the volume of soil available to plant roots. Don't add gravel or crocks, but ensure pots have drainage holes.

Watering in the middle of the day scorches leaves.

The verdict False: watering in bright sunlight does not cause sunburn, but it does waste water and can create problems with fungal diseases.

Urine speeds up composting.

The verdict False: urine may be beneficial in composting if there is not enough fresh, green material in your heap, but it will not speed up composting in a balanced heap.


Parsnips taste better after the first frost.

The verdict True: parsnips really do taste sweeter after being exposed to the cold. To enhance their flavour, leave roots in the ground until you need them.

Coffee grounds keep slugs at bay.

The verdict False: coffee grounds may not deter slugs, but they are high in nitrogen, so put them on your compost heap instead. Spraying plants with a caffeine solution equivalent to a strong cup of coffee does kill slugs!!!

Pea and bean roots left in the ground improve the soil.

The verdict False: picking peas and beans removes most of the nitrogen that was gathered by bacteria in root nodules. Put spent plants on your compost heap to harness any nitrogen left in the leaves.

Tea is a good fertiliser for pot plants.

The verdict False: regular watering and an occasional liquid feed are better for plant health than relying on tea. Used tea leaves are best added to your compost heap.






Don't know if it's true or not but I was told if you planted wallflowers you introduced club root into the soil.

If you grow broad beans blackfly will invade. I know the delicious tasting tips can have blackfly but do they attract it ?

I knew that one about roses Dove. Is it true that suckers don't have thorns? If not that's another.

Good thread Artjak


philippa - yes lilies are traditionally used for funerals. It's why some people don't like them as gifts.

Sitting on stone walls gives you piles... not strictly gardening but a favourite of my Mum's! you have started something

I suppose to be fair tho, we ought to differentiate between Old Wives Tales ( in which I often think there is at least a grain of truth ) and basic mis information.......?

I'd class the Lilac, dandelion, Lilly thing in OWT but Dove's rose  myth I would call mis information ............what do others think ?


Interesting Edd, doubt you'll need a tin hat

If someone holds a buttercup under your chin and can see reflected colour you love butter, strange what pre-school kids did in my day

Fairy, yeah we were warned about piles lol.


Was told never to grow lupins, due to them always getting lupin aphid...huge great greenfly, only seen them once in a neighbours garden, but haven't dared grow lupins. p.s not afraid of them just didn't want pests.

FG..........stone walls = piles.........I've heard that one too - definitely mis information

Another classic was............Never go outside after you have just washed your hair otherwise you will catch cold............nothing to do with gardening but..........I dry my hair by standing in the wind ( saves on electric and therefore more power for raising plants propagator it DOES have a gardening theme after all)

 Edd............thanks............wonderful list  I confess I used to fall for the bean root/nitrogen thing when I first grew them.  

star gaze lily

Heard the one about May too. Also lillies at funerals but I love lillies.

My mum used to say the same about wet hair and damp grass gave you piles.

My nan used to cover mirrors in  thunder storms because of the lightning......



I have heard the one about May. I also never let June in the house, then again she is my ex. 

p s2. Research has shown that almost all the nitrogen gathered by bacteria in the root nodules of legumes is passed straight into the plant. By the time legumes are in flower, most of the nitrogen is in the leaves and developing pods. So the only way nitrogen will benefit future crops is if the whole plant – including seeds, pods, leaves, stems and roots – is allowed to rot back into the soil.


Having followed the thread about someone wishing to cut down a huge Yew tree, does anyone know why they are/ were so prevalent in Grave yards ?  Was it simply to produce a rather sombre atmosphere or was there another reason ?



Lots of superstition surrounds the growing of parsley, one states that it should only be sown "if a woman rules the household" another is transplanting parsley will bring bad luck to someone in your family.

Its probably linked to the fact that parsley can be tricky to germinate at the best of times and rarely survives transplanting.

My mum used to tell me that giving yellow roses as a gift was bad luck.

there's a tree you have to ask its permission before you cut it, can't quite remember which tree but think it begins with 's'. I'm sure someone will remind me...

Lots of possible reasons p s2. Take your pick.

"It was the custom to plant yew trees in churchyards, not only to provide
shade, but to provide wood for the bows. Every Sunday the bowmen
practised their shooting, and many church walls have deep indentations,
evidence that the 'yewmen' or yeomen, sharpened their arrows on the
sandstone walls"

"Yew trees were planted in graveyards as they thrived on corpses and
were then readily available to make excellent bows"

"Yew trees were planted in churchyards to prevent archers from
procuring suitable branches for making bows and thus having the
weapons to oppose the 'King's Men'. To cut a tree in a churchyard
was a punishable offence!"

"Yew-wood is used for making bows, and it was therefore necessary
for each town to have a supply of yew trees. Before enclosure, a
village's livestock would wander around unchecked... As yew trees
are poisonous they had to be planted out of reach of the grazing
animals, and so they were planted in the churchyard, which was the
only area in the village which was fenced off."

"I was always given to believe that yews were planted round churches
to discourage farmers from letting their cattle stray from common
land to consecrated."

"In the country churches are usually surrounded by fields... yew
berries are poisonous if eaten by cattle. Local farmers round the
church and churchyard are therefore willing to keep church hedges
and / or fences surrounding them in good repair... A cow broke into
our churchyard on Christmas Day 20 years ago and died of eating
berries from our ancient tree... the farmer concerned has kept our
boundaries beautifully ever since!"

"The Druids regarded the yew as sacred and planted it close to their
temples. As the early Christians often built their churches on these
consecrated sites, the association of yew trees in churchyards was
perpetuated." [Label at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - 1993]