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A Less Toxic Dormant Oil

A Less Toxic Dormant Oil

In early spring, while fruit trees and shrubs are still dormant, many farmers and gardeners spray what is called a “dormant oil” on the bark and buds of their trees. A very old-fashioned approach to pest control—some say it dates back to the Thea century—the purpose of the oily spray is to suffocate overwintering pests, such as aphids and mites. Most commercial products are made of kerosene or other petroleum oil. A much less toxic and more sustainable approach is to use a renewable resource such as vegetable oil.

1 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoon liquid soap
1 gallon water

Easy Directions
Combine the soap and oil and stir to blend thoroughly. Add the water a bit at a time, stirring as you go (water and oil don’t really emulsify; the soap helps the process). Pour the mixture into a clean garden spray container. Spray a coat of the mixture over the entire bark of a tree. Shake the
container frequently as you are spraying.

Makes 1 gallon, enough for one fruit tree.

Read more: Nature, Lawns & Gardens, Natural Pest Control

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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+ add your own
5:51AM PST on Jan 15, 2014

I am going to spray fruit tress for the first time. Can any one please clarify what size of cup one should be using to measure oil. Appreciate if the measurement be either in ml or in tablespoons.

5:48AM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Thank you for the recipe. Can you please let me know the measurements of the oil in ml or in tablespoons.

5:29AM PST on Jan 15, 2014

I am going to spray fruit tress for the first time. Can any one please clarify what size of cup one should be using to measure oil. Appreciate if the measurement be either in ml or in tablespoons.

5:51AM PDT on Jun 10, 2013

Can't wait to try it and protect my fruit trees!

3:41AM PDT on Mar 28, 2013

thanks! i need to save my cinammon basil from aphids!!!

11:49PM PST on Feb 23, 2013

I was wondering if this recipe would benefit from using Peppermint castile soap, for it's natural insecticidal properties; and substituting 2 oz. of the vegetable oil for neem oil? Any thoughts on this idea?

7:01PM PST on Jan 16, 2013

thank you.

9:46AM PST on Jan 15, 2013


9:14AM PDT on Sep 8, 2011

thank you

7:25PM PST on Jan 23, 2008

Thank you for this recipe, I need to spray my fruit trees and I would much prefer this recipe rather then the toxic stuff you get at nurseries.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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