How Horticultural Oils Improve Plant Health

As we begin to enter the winter months here in Georgia, our lawns and gardens will begin to enter their dormant periods. The dormant period will definitely come with some advantages, the obvious being you can take a good, long break from mowing your lawn regularly. One other great way to take advantage of this dormant season experienced by your lawn and garden is by making use of horticultural oils, sometimes known as "dormant oils." 

If you're unfamiliar with horticultural oils, they are a lightweight oil that is applied to plants that works to keep overwintering insects off and away from your vulnerable, dormant plants.

The Goal of Horticultural Oils

The primary goal of horticultural oils is to protect your plants during the dormant period and encourage growth during a colder environment. They are sometimes referred to as "dormant oils" because they should be applied when the plant is still dormant, from November to February. The ideal temperature range to spray horticultural oil is between 40 and 70 degrees, making these middling temperature days in December a great time to start! It's important to avoid spraying the oil on sunny days as this can actually burn the leaves of the tree or shrub; cloud cover is actually welcomed here. 

What Are Overwintering Insects?

Overwintering insects will vary from climate to climate, but here in Georgia the insects that will utilize the milder winter climate include stink bugs, lady bugs, aphids, mites, and even scales. The presence of horticultural oils in the plants' dormant state work to disturb insects' ability to reproduce effectively, thus reducing their presence in your lawn or garden.

Since some overwintering insects, like aphids, carry diseases from one plant to another, this can be a great way to minimize disease transmission during your plants' period of dormancy, allowing them to stay healthy and grow strong in the springtime.

How to Apply Horticultural Oils

When applying horticultural oils, there are a few things to know to avoid damaging your plants or inhibiting their growth. It is very important to only apply the oils to plants once you are in the advised temperature range, as applying them while it is too warm can cause the oils to damage plants with newly grown buds, and applying while in freezing temperatures can change the emulsion of the oil and contribute to uneven oil application.

Added Benefits

When your lawn and garden's plants enter their dormant state, they will use every nutrient they can get from the soil to stay healthy enough to have prosperous growth in the springtime. Unfortunately, this means that if insects are taking much needed nutrients from the plants, they will have a more difficult time growing when it warms back up. 

Horticultural oils are a great way to prevent insect presence, but mainly to ensure your plants won't miss out on any nutrients they need to stay healthy in their dormant state.

Horticultural oils pose little risk to humans and animals. If you are looking to protect your plants during their dormant season, don't wait any longer to schedule horticultural oil treatment! If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, contact AgroPro today! 

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