Pest control for ornamental trees and shrubs is often overlooked but is a powerful way to bolster the health of the plants and accentuate their effect in your landscape. Beyond functional fertilization, preventing pesky critters from feeding on your landscape plants is arguably the next most important task. When dealing with pest control, lawn care, or ornamental tree and shrub care, we often discuss the idea of integrated pest management.
In a nutshell, integrated pest management requires an understanding of the pest triangle for troublesome pests: the pest itself, a host or environment where they can thrive, and food and water capable of sustaining the pest. This integrated approach also uses a combination of cultural practices and control applications to minimize injury to the host plant and maximize environmental friendliness simultaneously. Horticultural oils are a wonderful tool to have in the toolbox and are very effective when used appropriately.
What Are Horticultural Oils?
Horticultural oils are majority-refined mineral oils that are filtered and distilled repeatedly, removing impurities that may be injurious to desirable plants. They also generally include inert ingredients that make sure they blend well with water so they can be diluted and applied uniformly. While we still avoid spraying these oils on sensitive plants and in hot weather, the refinement process has improved horticultural oils to the point where we can use them in moderate weather seasons, controlling a wider range of pests.
How Do Horticultural Oils Work?
Horticultural oils coat and smother insects. Horticultural oils are sprayed on your trees and shrubs in the same way the majority of your fertilizers and other pest control products are applied, coating the plants and also insects that may be feeding on them.
Control is achieved by coating insects, obstructing the spiracles they use to breathe. Mites and scales are biologically resilient to other treatment methods but susceptible to horticultural oils. Also, insects overwintering in cracks and crevices that are shielded from other applications can still be smothered.
Are Horticultural Oils Bad for The Environment?
When used appropriately, horticultural oils are actually quite environmentally friendly. They aren’t selective and will smother any insect they come in contact with, but are practically inert once dry. This means they pose little or no risk to people, pets, the environment, or populations of non-target insects.
Quick degradation and evaporation also contribute to a fairly short exposure period to insects that weren’t coated during treatment. When applied by professionals, they’re sort of a win-win: effective control with little downside. When used in conjunction with a program and cultural practices that bolster plant health, they are an effective and safe method of controlling otherwise difficult pest populations.
Are There Any Downsides to Using Horticultural Oils?
If used at the wrong time or on the wrong plants, horticultural oils can cause injury. Fortunately, our program at Nature’s Turf utilizes horticultural oils when the weather is most accommodating and the pests we are targeting are most susceptible. Our trained applicators specialize and focus on our tree and shrub programs. They take pride in their ability to safely and completely execute our programs, giving you the results you desire.
- Horticultural oils are majority-refined mineral oils that are filtered and distilled repeatedly, removing impurities that may be injurious to desirable plants.
- They are sprayed on your trees and shrubs in the same way the majority of your fertilizers and other pest control products are applied, coating the plants and also insects that may be feeding on them. Insects coated by horticultural oils are smothered.
- When used appropriately, horticultural oils are actually quite environmentally friendly.
- If used at the wrong time, or on the wrong plants, horticultural oils can cause injury. Fortunately, our program utilizes horticultural oils when the weather is most accommodating, and the pests we are targeting are most susceptible.
- Reach out to us at Nature’s Turf via email or by phone at (770) 637-7515 with questions about horticultural oils and to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful lawn.