Aphids, whiteflies, thrips, mealybugs, spider mites, scales, and other dangerous insects can all be eliminated with insecticidal soap spray. Insecticidal soap isn’t without issues, despite being a fantastic addition to the pest management toolkit. Well-intentioned gardeners who think this is entirely safe frequently misuse it. Despite its low cost and relative safety, it is still a pesticide and has to be handled carefully. When mismanaged, it can cause the death of beneficial insects like bees.
Even the plants that insecticidal soap is supposed to protect may suffer harm.
What is Insecticidal Soap?
A natural substance obtained from plant oils, insecticidal soap is formed of potassium salts of fatty acids. To put it another way, it is precisely what it claims to be: a soap. It’s a pure soap made without any additional additives. Manufacturers mainly use long-chain fatty acids to create it instead of short-chain fatty acids.
Since they are frequently used as herbicides, substances like those found in dishwashing detergents tend to be hazardous to plants. Insecticidal soap has little lasting impact and is only valid when wet. In other words, once it dries out, it is entirely useless. Because it must touch and cover living bugs to be effective, you cannot use it to prevent insects and mites.
The Function of Insecticide Soap
Commercial insecticidal soap is manufactured from fatty acid potassium salts. That’s a fancy way of expressing that it’s soap manufacture from separated fatty acid components of oils and potassium hydroxide. These oils might be cottonseed castor, castor, coconut, or palm.
Aphids and other soft-bodied insects are killed with insecticidal soap by entering their bodies and rupturing their cell membranes, which causes them to become dehydrated. Bees and ladybugs with more rigid bodies than this do not respond to it. Additionally, it does not work on caterpillars.
Even though these treatments have undergone extensive testing, certain plants are still too delicate and can suffer harm if an insecticidal soap spray is applied. These include vegetation with thick or hairy leaves that may store the pesticide for longer. Before using a commercial bottle, carefully read it thoroughly since it should include a list of sensitive plants.
The advantages of insecticidal soap
The advantages of making insecticidal soap products are numerous. You’ll notice these advantages as soon as you start incorporating them into your routine for your garden or plants. The main advantages are as follows:
Insecticidal soap not only kills a wide range of insects, but it also kills almost every plant. Fruit, vegetables, flowers, and houseplants. When you notice those little spider mites setting a home in your indoor palm, one of the first things you’ll go for it because it’s safe for a wide range of garden residents.
This soap is a preferred pest control alternative since it is completely harmless and non-toxic, unlike pesticides, for many organic gardeners and vegetable gardens where dangerous chemicals could seep into your food. Additionally, it is a milder choice for pest management that will only affect the bugs and not the foliage of your plants.
No matter how many insects you kill, insecticidal soap won’t cost you much because it just requires a small amount of soap and water. One bottle of soap might last you years, making this a remarkably cost-efficient and successful approach. It keeps your plants healthy and free of pests.
How to Spray Plants with Insecticide Using Soap?
When using insecticidal soap on plants, remember to:
1. When to Spray
Temperatures are excellent, and plants are shaded; early morning or late evening is the optimum time to spray insecticidal soap since it will stay moist and be more effective.
2. Avoid Sensitive Plants
Sprays made of insecticidal soap are known to be harsh on some plants. Succulents, ferns, ivy, palms, lantana, azaleas, particularly tomatoes, and plants with waxy leaves should all be avoided. Avoid applying it on blossoming plants or delicate new growth.
3. First test
Whether you’ve never used insecticidal soap before, test it on a discrete branch to see if your plant will withstand it. Before moving on, wait 24 hours and inspect the leaves for burnt or scorched areas. If it harms the plant, dilute it in half and try again. You should probably refrain from spraying the plant if it still burns.
4. Apply Thoroughly
On the undersides of leaves, a lot of soft-bodied insects congregate. Make careful to sprinkle insecticidal soap on the stems as well as the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Any insect not sprayed will survive the treatment since the soap is harmless once it dries. Remember that only insects that become wet will be killed with it.
5. Repeat Therapy
Insect infestations sometimes necessitate a second and maybe even third application of insecticidal soap within a week or two. Apply many days in succession, then follow up a week or two later if the issue is serious. Remember that the spray loses effectiveness after it dries down and is washed away by rain.
Tips for Safety When Using Insecticide Soap
Although most other pesticides are less hazardous to humans and animals than insecticidal soaps, they can harm some delicate plants, particularly if oil is added to the spray. There are a few other factors to consider while using these soaps.
To avoid this, always test an insecticidal soap application on a tiny plant area first to ensure it works and has no unfavourable consequences. To ensure that problems like wrinkling, spotting, and browning do not occur, wait at least 24 hours after applying it.
Should Insecticidal Soaps Rinse Off?
Ensure that the therapy has enough time to work. Typically, insecticidal soap starts to work after just a few minutes. Even though you do not need to rinse the soap off after using it, doing so could be advantageous. But you shouldn’t immediately rinse. The soap is only effective when it is moist, as we already said.
Water the plants before spraying insecticidal soap on them if they grow underneath overhead irrigation systems. After a few applications, only rinse your plants after leaving the soap on them. This will help prevent the buildup of soapy residues and fatty acids on your foliage. It would help if you waited till it was entirely dry.
Information is available if you’re seeking efficient organic gardening options. That is not the case with insecticidal soap. Applying it to plants has dramatically increased your chances of preserving your garden. You may get rid of most soft-bodied bugs organically by using this soapy water insect spray for plants. This ought to be one of your go-to gardening techniques.
Also read: Creeping Phlox: How To Grow and Care Guide?