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Homemade Pest and Disease Remedies

Insecticidal soap, rotenone/pyrethrum liquid spray, and diatomaceous earth for horticultural use (silica particles from the skeletal remains of sea creatures that penetrate the bodies of insects on contact-sold as a dust) are good store-bought natural pest remedies. Follow the directions on the labels.

Alcohol spray for Aphids
Mix ½ to 1 cup alcohol with a quart of water. Do not spray the entire plant until you have done a test leaf. Spray one leaf. Wait a day. If it shows signs of burning, do not use alcohol on the plant. Never use in the heat of the day in the sun.

Beer Traps for Slugs
Put some cheap beer in saucers. Place the saucers every 3 to 4 feet around the plants that are being eaten. The slugs will crawl into the beer and drown.

Chamomile Tea for Damping Off
Spray seedlings with a hot water infusion of chamomile tea to prevent the disease.

Citrus Spray for Aphids
This is a good spray for aphids or any other soft-bodied bugs. Boil 2 cups of water in a glass or stainless steel pot. Remove from the burner and add the peel of one lemon or one grapefruit. Cover the pot and let steep overnight. Mix ½ water and ½ citrus liquid. The spray must come in contact with the insects' body to be effective. Spray as needed.

Eucalyptus Liquid Soap (found in health food stores)
Add ½ teaspoon to a quart of water and spray for insects

Horticultural oil
These sprays have a petroleum distillate carrier for natural botanical insecticides. Never use them on a sunny day, and be sure plants are watered well before spraying.

Insecticidal soap
Sold under the Safer brand name. You will find it in any garden store. The concentrate is a better buy than any others.

Liquid rotenone/pyrethrins spray
Bonide is the brand. Follow directions on the label. This spray is very effective, especially if not overused.

Molasses Spray for Rusts
1 cup sulfured molasses
1 cup powdered milk (optional)
1 gallon water
1 cup seaweed powder (optional)
1 cup rock powder (optional)

If you are using only molasses, stir into water and use. If using all ingredients, mix molasses and powders and make into a paste. Wrap 1 cup of the paste in a panty hose. Put in the water, and let sit for 2 to 4 hours. Strain and spray.

Three Sprays for Powdery Mildew

  • Mix ¼ teaspoon baking soda with a quart of water and spray every 2 days until it is gone.
  • Mix 1 ½ TBS baking soda, 1 TBS insecticidal soap, and 1 TBS canola oil with 1 cup water. Add 1 TBS vinegar LAST, otherwise it might bubble over. Pour into a sprayer that holds more than a gallon. Add a gallon of water. Shake or stir. Spray plant covering tops and bottoms of leaves.
  • Mix 1 gallon warm water with 3 TBS baking soda and 1 TBS Murphy's Oil Soap. Spray plants as soon as you see a grayish coat on the leaves. Spray every 7 to 10 days until daytime temperatures go up to 70 degrees. On plants with chronic powdery mildew problems (beebalm, phlox) use this spray as a preventive. Spray once or twice in early spring before it appears. If you notice it, remove all affected leaves, spray with this solution, prune or trim to improve air circulation, and make sure the plants are not stressed by other problems like drought. Stressed plants are susceptible to diseases and pests.

Rhubarb Spray for Leafminers
½ cup rhubarb leaves, shredded
3 quarts water

Put leaves in a pot and bring water to a boil. Steep for at least an hour, overnight if possible. Blend the solution. Strain and spray.

Water Jet Spray
Potted plants should be turned upside down and sprayed with a strong jet of water to dislodge aphids, whiteflies, and mites.