Unlocking the Benefits of Horticultural Oils for Plant Health

As we settle into the winter months here in Georgia, our lawns and gardens begin their transition into the dormant phase. The silver lining? The much-welcomed break from weekly lawn mowing and maintenance. But there is another opportunity homeowners should be taking advantage of during this dormant season — it is the perfect time to harness the power of horticultural oils.

 Horticultural oils, also known as "dormant oils," are lightweight oils applied to plants that act as a shield against active winter insects that can threaten the well-being of your vulnerable, dormant plants.

The Purpose of Horticultural Oils

Aside from their insect-repelling properties, horticultural oils also aim to stimulate growth in colder conditions. Commonly referred to as "dormant oils" because of their application during the plant's dormancy period (from November to February), these oils are ideally sprayed in temperatures ranging from 40 to 70 degrees — here in Georgia, that can be anytime between October and December, but the later months of the year often provide a more opportune window for application. Whenever you choose to spray your plants, be sure to opt for a cloudy day, as too much sun immediately after application can lead to leaf burns

Why Timing Matters

The timing of applying horticultural oils requires careful consideration to avoid plant damage or inhibiting new growth. It's crucial to apply the oils only within the recommended temperature range, as applying them in warmer conditions may harm plants with newly grown buds, while applying them in freezing temperatures can cause the oil to settle unevenly across the plant. Be sure to avoid spraying oils in the 48 hours before or after any freeze.

Understanding Overwintering Insects

The spectrum of overwintering (active during winter) insects varies based on climate. In Georgia, the milder winter climate attracts insects like stink bugs, ladybugs, aphids, mites, and scales. However, the presence of horticultural oils during the plant's dormant stage disrupts the reproductive abilities of these insects, effectively reducing their impact on your lawn or garden, while also evaporating quickly and leaving no toxic residue.

Given that certain overwintering insects, such as aphids, can transmit diseases between plants, using horticultural oils can be an essential to minimizing disease transmission during the dormancy period. And, if used appropriately, oils can prove a much less toxic choice than traditional insecticides.

Added Advantages

During the dormant phase, plants in your lawn and garden still absorb some nutrients from the soil to maintain their health and ensure robust growth in the spring. However, if insects are siphoning off these essential nutrients, your plants may struggle to thrive when temperatures rise.

Horticultural oils not only prevent insect infestations but also ensure that your plants receive the nutrients they need to remain healthy during their dormant state.

It's reassuring to note that horticultural oils pose minimal risks to humans and animals. If safeguarding your plants during their dormant season is a priority, don't hesitate to schedule a horticultural oil treatment. For inquiries or consultations, reach out to AgroPro today!

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