How to use sulphur as an insecticide

Written by kenneth coppens
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Garden insects can be hard to control without using chemical insecticides. This puts organic gardeners in a dilemma, pushed to choose between losing their plants and spraying chemicals on their soil. Fortunately, there are organic alternatives to chemical insecticides, even for the most persistent garden pests. Sulphur, a naturally occurring substance, works great as an insecticide and has no negative effects on plants or soil.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Powdered sulphur
  • Flour sifter
  • Lime/sulphur spray or wettable sulphur

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  1. 1

    Fill a spray bottle with water and a drop of dish soap. Shake the bottle vigorously until bubbles form.

  2. 2

    Spray your plants with the soapy water. Be sure to get the tops and bottoms of the leaves as well as the stems. The soapy water will help the sulphur stick to the plants.

  3. 3

    Fill a flour sifter with powdered sulphur. Hold the sifter 1 to 2 feet above the plants, and sift the sulphur over them to give them a light dusting. The coat of sulphur should be heavy enough that it is easily visible but still light enough that you can see the colour of the leaves beneath it.

  4. 4

    Spray a lime-sulphur or wettable sulphur spray on any part of the plant that isn't covered with dust. A light mist on the bare spots is enough to get the job done. Combination lime-sulphur spray is much more effective than wettable sulphur, so use the combination if it is available in your area.

  5. 5

    Examine your plants daily. If you notice that the insects have come back, reapply the sulphur.

Tips and warnings

  • If powdered sulphur is not available, use the spray on its own. You may need to apply the spray 2 days in a row because liquid insecticides sometimes drip off of plants and soak into the soil, where they have no effect on certain insects.

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