En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 20, 2007

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seasonal Tasks
Title: Toxicity of horticultural oils
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Is T&S dormant oil spray a toxic product? Our church (Prairie Creek Baptist in Plano, Texas) is transitioning to organic/native landscape. This is the product used by the current lawn service. Also, we would appreciate any other information to help us make this transition.

ANSWER:

Since we know of no brandname, T&S, we are assuming you mean trees and shrubs. This would make sense because trees and shrubs are the landscape elements that you would spray with dormant oil. The term dormant oil speaks more to the season in which it is applied -- during trees' and shrubs' dormant season -- than to a particular kind of oil. In the past, dormant oils were all petroleum-based, rather heavy oils that had to be sprayed in warmish weather during the winter. Scale, aphids, mites and other overwintering insects are the target pests for winter-application of an oil spray. Petroleum-based dormant oils can damage green (non-dormant) tissue. So winter annuals such as pansies, snapdragons and ornamental crucifers are often severely damaged by overspray or spray drift.

The toxicity of any dormant oil, or any other horticultural oil for that matter, can vary from product to product. So it is very important to fully understand the toxicity of the specific product that is being applied. Pesticide labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are your primary sources of information for pesticide use, safety and toxicity information. Your lawn service company must have MSDS sheets on file for each material they use. They will provide copies of those sheets to you at your request. If you have concerns about the safety of the material that is being applied to your church's landscape, you should meet with a representative of your lawn care company to discuss those concerns and look for solutions to any problems you identify.

 

More Seasonal Tasks Questions

Care for penstemons in South Jordan, UT
June 21, 2009 - I have Firecracker Penstemons and they bloomed beautifully this year. How do I trim them and when? Will they continue to bloom throughout the summer?
view the full question and answer

When to plant in Austin
November 02, 2010 - I own a small landscaping business in the Austin area, and we are admittedly learning every day, but trying to do the right thing. We are knowledgeable about the sun, water, soil requirements for a v...
view the full question and answer

Winter pruning for yucca in Michigan
November 10, 2008 - I live in SE Michigan and have an outdoor yucca plant that has grown quite large. My father tells me that I can literally cut it down to the ground in the fall and that it will grow back the followin...
view the full question and answer

Drought affecting native trees from The Woodlands
August 18, 2011 - I've been trying to grow native trees in my yard for the past 3 years and I'm starting to question whether the amount of time required to spend watering them during the long hot season in Texas is r...
view the full question and answer

Trimming back freeze damage from Anacacho orchid in Liberty Hill TX
May 17, 2010 - When is it safe to trim back what I think is dead wood on my Anacacho orchid trees (that were hit hard this past winter)? Is there any harm done if I cut back living wood?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center