Using safe garden insecticides is all about dealing with pests, without harming plants and soils whilst also keeping family and pets safe in our gardens. A great way to deal with insect pests is to use a soap spray insecticide.
There are many ready made insecticidal soaps available. Using a purpose made soap insecticide is easier than making your own. Primarily this is because the manufacturers can guarantee the consistent quality of their ingredients. If you make a homemade insecticidal soap spray you have no control over the ingredients used (unless you go the whole yard and make your own homemade soap to start with). That's not to say homemade soap insecticides are no good. Just treat each new batch as a new product, and test it on a few leaves first, just to be sure it is mild enough for use in your garden.
Another key point to remember when deciding on homemade versus store bought, is that soap and detergent are different. Ideally any safe garden insecticidal soap spray should be made with a relatively mild soap not detergent.
It is true that people have been throwing their dirty dish-washing water over rose bushes for generations. The mild dish washing detergent tackles aphids and fungal diseases brilliantly. But, whilst roses stand this treatment other garden favorites may not be so sturdy. Choosing soap instead really keeps this homemade insecticide safer and far more garden friendly. Check the labels of any 'liquid soaps' you use to make insecticides as many products we think of as soaps are in fact now made from detergents. These chemically derived products are more likely to damage plants than vegetable based soaps ever do.
Homemade Insecticidal Soap
If you want to make your own homemade insecticidal soap, simply mix one hundred parts water with one part mild liquid soap. Decant into a spray bottle and you're done. If pests are a real problem you may consider reinforcing this with garlic or chili by infusing these pungent herbs in the soap spray. Don't forget you'll need to strain the vegetable matter out before decanting to a spray bottle or they'll quickly block up the nozzle.
If you do opt for garlic or chili soap sprays test them on a few leaves before using widely. Chili in particular can burn tender plants just as it can burn our skin.
Using Insecticide Soap Sprays
Whether you choose to make your own soap spray or buy a ready made formula there are a few points to remember.
- Avoid spraying on newly formed buds.
- Test spray tender or cherished plants whenever you make up a new batch of insecticidal soap.
- Always use these safe garden insecticides either early in the morning or late evening which allows the product a longer drying time.
- Avoid using soap sprays when the temperature is hot, or in bright sunshine or you may well scorch the leaves.
- Do not use during high humidity. Soap insecticides are water based so need to be reapplied after rain.
- Be careful not to spray beneficial predator insects as well as the pests.
- Avoid spraying soap sensitive plants such as ferns, chestnut, cherries, mountain ash, nasturtium, violets, hawthorn, Japanese maple, sweet peas and gardenia.
Whatever type of gardener you are there really is not reason to always reach for the chemical concoction when faced with pests. Using milder products can keep you, your family and pets free from the risk of accidental poisoning. Whether or not you care for organic methods, safe garden insecticides make sense.