Is Facebook a great place for gardening questions? Usually not.

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One of the only places to find decent info on FB

It can depend on who’s in your friend list, but I’ve seen enough to determine that asking random gardening questions on Facebook is an exercise in frustration and bad information. The ones I have seen on my feed—usually about plant IDs or houseplant problems—get such a wide range of answers, mostly wrong, that I wonder how the person asking determines who or what to believe. On Facebook, I have a mix of gardening friends (from all over the place) and Western New York/family friends. The twain do not—for the most part—meet, so if one of my WNY friends asks a question, they generally don’t get much in the way of a professional response. It often looks like a loyalty battle more than anything else: Believe me! No, believe ME! And then a lot of people just want to see how ridiculous their answers can be. It is Facebook, after all.

I have never looked at Facebook as a place to find the truth, or, really, any kind of information I seriously need. It’s a place for recording vacations and other fun times, keeping in touch with people you don’t often see, or maybe exchanging a little gossip or friendly needling. I get my news from my digital subscriptions. But there are a few niches on Facebook where you can get decent info.

For plant identification, there are actually a number of groups that exist to discuss nothing else. That’s where I would go with those questions. The public group named Plant Identification and Discussion (39,083) seems the best, judging by the number of members and the fact that I see trusted gardening friends participating in it.

I also love the Garden Professors blog, which tries to limit the discussion to science-based, peer-judged information. They try, though they often have to spend a certain amount of time tussling with people who are pushing various home remedies or untested methodologies. However, recent topics discussed include stabilizing bare-root shrubs after planting, violets as ground cover, and what types of bagged mulch are best. Good stuff! And now the GP group posts that and links and advice that are not science-based will simply be deleted by the admins as soon as they’re seen. Good for them!

With just a few exceptions, there’s no surety with crowd sourcing. If I’m really concerned, I go to my local horticultural experts or my library. And I don’t see that changing.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. There are University Extension/Cooperative Extension groups from all over the Country on FaceBook. They can be a great local resource for garden questions, and a well-maintained group will post timely information for your area. Cornell Cooperative Extension is great for the Northeast Region. Penn State Extension is getting better every year as well.

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