From the Desk of Ed Hume: Dormant Spraying in the Winter

January 17, 2011 at 1:10 AM Leave a comment

Why would anyone spray his or her garden during the winter?  Good question!  The answer is to help control over wintering insect and disease problems on fruit, flowering, and shade trees.  So if you have experienced problems with either insects or diseases this past season, winter spraying could help control such problems in the upcoming gardening season.

But don’t just use any old spray.  Use a special dormant spray.   Often dormant sprays are a combination of liquid lime-sulfur and agricultural oil.  Plus, there are other natural dormant sprays.  If this seems confusing to you, the Certified Professional Horticulturist or Master Gardener at your local nursery or garden center can help you select the right spray for your needs.

It is often recommended that dormant sprays be applied two or three times during the late fall and winter.  Usually the first application is done in November, the second around the holiday season, and the third in late January to mid-February (depending upon the weather).

If a dormant spray like lime sulfur and oil is used, you must be careful not to get the spray on any painted surfaces as it will stain them.  Newspapers or other materials can simply be tacked up on the exterior of the home or fences to protect the painted surface while spraying.

Another very important reason why you should check with a knowledgeable specialist is that some dormant sprays, like the lime-sulfur-oil type, will burn the foliage of evergreen plants, so they must be covered too.  In any case, be certain to read and follow application directions on the spray you use.

Do not spray when temperatures are below freezing.  Likewise, avoid spraying when the wind is blowing.  And if possible, spray at a time when there is no chance of rain for about 24 hours.

If this is too complicated, too much work, you don’t have the right equipment, or if you are concerned about using the right sprays and doing the job properly, what can you do?  I would suggest you consider contacting a professional spray firm.  You will find them in the yellow pages or on the web.  They will interview you, ask about children and pets, and determine which type of natural dormant spray they can use to solve your insect and disease problems while at the same time determine which one will be safest for you, your family, pets, all your other plants, and the environment.

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