En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Toxicity of horticultural oils

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

Flower sucession for Washington DC
June 18, 2012 - Interplanting to cover up spring ephemerals. When bulbs/spring ephemerals (camassia, bluebells, etc.) are dying back, their wilting leaves don't look so great. What can I plant to minimize the me...
view the full question and answer

Tidying up Copper Canyon Daisies in San Antonio
March 30, 2010 - We have a small bed with 4 copper canyon daisies. We cut them back in the fall but have not pruned them during growing season; as a result they become a big tangle by September. Should they be pruned ...
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

Late blooming Esperanza in St. Augustine FL
April 21, 2011 - I bought an Esperanza at a plant expo- I was told it was a Florida native Allamanda. It took me two years to figure out what I had. Mine grows 8 ft. tall and is huge! But it doesn't bloom until alm...
view the full question and answer

Pruning cherry laurel in January in Austin
January 07, 2011 - Do trust I checked Q&A first. Can Cherry Laurel shrubs be pruned earlier than late winter in Austin? I foolishly planted 12 native Cherry Laurel standards on our suburban property line 5 years ago. I ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center