Lime sulfur is a very useful product that can be used in your garden. Lime sulfur is not only effective against aphids but it also kills other pests such as spider mites, scale insects, thrips and whiteflies. You may use lime sulfur when you want to control some types of plants or even weeds like cabbage looper (Brassicas cyanea). Lime sulfur is also used to kill certain types of fungus. However, if you are using lime sulfur in your garden, then you must be aware of its potential health risks.
What Is Lime Sulfur?
Lime sulfur is a chemical compound that contains hydrogen sulfide gas. Hydrogen sulfide is one of the most toxic compounds known to man. It causes severe burns and even death due to its high toxicity level. If you have ever seen the movie “Gaslight” then you will remember the character played by Robert Taylor who was killed because of his exposure to hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is so dangerous that it can cause blindness, respiratory failure and even death.
Hydrogen sulfide is produced naturally in coal mines and natural gas wells. It occurs naturally in underground reservoirs where there are no air vents to escape into the atmosphere.
Lime sulfur contains only a very small amount of hydrogen sulfide. The amount of this toxic compound is so small that it can not cause any serious harm to humans or animals.
Lime sulfur is available in two different forms, liquid and dust. Both forms work effectively on garden pests and weeds. You may place the dust directly on plants or mix it with water before spraying it on your plants and weeds. Liquid lime sulfur becomes effective immediately when exposed to the sun.
The bacteria and microbes in the soil start to break it down immediately.
Lime sulfur is an effective control for many types of scale insects such as cottony cushion scale, California red scale and San Jose scale. It also controls aphids, mealy bugs, certain types of mites and thrips. You may use it on ornamental plants to get rid of certain types of fungus such as powdery mildew and scab.
Lime sulfur also controls many types of annual and perennial weeds such as chickweed, henbit, ragwort, toadflax and others.
Lime sulfur is not registered for use on food crops but it can be used on ornamental plants around your home without any problem. There are no phytotoxic effects when it is used on a wide range of trees and shrubs at the recommended dosage. You must not apply it to plants that have been stressed, burned by frost or exposed to disease.
Lime sulfur does not work instantly on all types of insects and weeds. It takes time for the active ingredient to break down the protective barrier of the insects’ and weeds’ outer shells and kill them. This process can take as long as three weeks. You need to persevere and be patient if you want to succeed in controlling the pests and weeds in your garden without using dangerous and toxic chemicals.
Lime sulfur controls various types of weeds by breaking down the chemical composition of the cell membrane of these plants until they dehydrate. The weeds then start to turn a brownish color and wither away completely.
You must water the plants immediately after you have applied the dust, otherwise it may burn the plants. Do not apply the dust on plants that are in bloom as it may cause the flowers to fall off prematurely.
Always keep the container that contains the dust in a safe place away from children. Keep it locked up in a cupboard or in your garage.
If lime sulfur gets into your eyes then rinse them thoroughly with clean, cool water immediately. If you feel a soreness, burning or itching then check with your doctor before using it again.
If you get the dust in your mouth then you will taste it for a few days.
You need to wear protective gloves, long trousers and a long sleeved shirt when applying the dust. You must also wear eye protection and make sure that no dust gets into your eyes as it can cause severe burning and irritation.
Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after applying the dust.
Never apply the dust in the heat of the day or in direct sunlight as this will cause it to lose some of its effectiveness. The sun’s heat may also cause your plants to burn if you apply it directly to their leaves.
Don’t apply the dust if there is more than a slight breeze as it will prevent the dust from settling evenly on the plants.
Use milk or a wet sponge to remove any dust that has landed on objects such as cars and window sills.
Be careful when you dispose of the container as the lid can be dangerous if it has come into contact with the dust. Toss it in the trash along with the top so that no one will brush against it by mistake.
Lime sulfur is not actually all that harmful to humans or animals but it does have an unpleasant smell. It also stains fabric if you get it on them. Treat any spills immediately by scraping the dust into a container filled with sand and disposing of it in the trash out of harm’s way.
You must wear a dust mask when you are applying the dust to your yard but make sure that it is not one of those cheap, ineffective masks that blows air directly into your face. This could cause the dust to blow back into your face and eyes.
You can easily control many types of weeds and insects without using any chemicals by using a natural herbicide such as lime sulfur. This organic substance is effective in breaking down the protective barrier of the cell membranes of insects and plants and allows them to dehydrate and eventually die. It is far less harmful to humans and animals than most chemical pesticides and herbicides that are available to the consumer today.Lime sulfur is actually a naturally occurring substance that is made by burning the shells of certain sea creatures.
It has been used for years as a natural insecticide and fungicide and was once used to bleach flour. It is available at most garden supply centers and some nurseries.Do not allow children to handle the dust or apply it without proper supervision. It can cause irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It can also cause vomiting if ingested in large quantities. Wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, a dust mask and long sleeves when applying it to your yard. When you are finished working with it, wash your hands and change your clothes before having any contact with your children or pets.Lime sulfur can be mixed with water and applied directly to the soil, to the foliage of plants or even to various types of seeds before they are planted. You can also apply it directly to items such as bricks or stones that may be infested with insects. It is very effective in controlling:It is not effective against slugs or snails so you may need to use something else on them. If you need to apply the dust in a very specific way such as getting it down inside the cracks of stones or bricks, use a small paintbrush or cloth to apply it.You can make your own spray bottle using water and lime sulfur by combining 4 tablespoons of the dust in a 32 ounce plastic bottle and filling it the rest of the way with water. Shake it well before each use. You can also make a ready to use spray by combining 1 part dust to 4 parts water in a pump spray container.If you want to kill the eggs of insects such as ants or aphids, you need to apply the dust repeatedly at five day intervals until you are sure that you have eliminated the entire colony. Lime sulfur can be used throughout the year in your landscape but is especially effective during the late winter and early spring when many insects are most active. Always be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for safety.Lawns need a certain amount of nutrients in the soil to remain lush and green. If the soil is depleted of these nutrients over time, the lawn can become thin and yellow. Topdressing or overseeding your lawn will add back some of these nutrients and make your lawn thicker and greener. To topdress or overseed your lawn you will need to rent a lawn aerator. This is a machine that you rent from most hardware stores and it has two or three metal tines on the bottom of it.You will use the topdressing or overseeding material to help your soil and also add extra nutrients at the same time. The materials available for top dressing or overseeding your lawn are:There are many benefits to using these but not all of them are suited for every type of lawn or situation. Here is some information on each type of lawn so that you can decide which will be best for you. It is best to use a top dressing or overseeding material that is similar to your soil type in order to prevent your grass from becoming weaker over time.If you have sandy soil your lawn will need help holding moisture and keeping it green throughout the year. Fescue, rye and rye grass seed are good for adding nutrients and helping to increase the amount of thatch in the soil.One of the downsides with these is that they will need to be watered and fertilized more often than other types of grass seed. This will help keep them green and prevent them from turning brown in the middle of summer.If you have clay soil, your lawn is probably very dense and filled with thatch. Bentgrass, ryegrasses and Italian ryegrasses are types of grass seed that can help loosen up the soil and prevent thatch from building up.These also need to be watered and fertilized more often in order for them to grow thick and green.If you have loamy soil, your soil is just right. It isn’t too dense but it also isn’t too loose. Most types of grass seed will work in loamy soil but bentgrass, ryegrasses and Italian ryegrasses are the best since they can also grow thick and green with little extra water or fertilizer.If you have raggy or sandy soil with some clay, your soil is lacking in nutrients and humus. These are slowly washing out of the soil and need to be replenished. Fescues, ryegrasses and perennial ryegrasses are best for this type of soil since they are high in nutrients.These types of grass seed do not require as much water and fertilizer but will need some in order to grow thick and green.If you have rocky soil, your soil has lots of stones mixed in with it. Bluegrass, fescue and most ryegrasses won’t grow in rocky soil since the roots can’t spread out and get the nutrients that they need.If you have acidic soil, your soil is very sour. Most types of grass seed won’t grow in acidic soil since they need a neutral pH in order to germinate.The best types of grass to grow in acidic soil are Buffalograsses, Centipedegrasses and St. Augustinegrass.Your lawn may or may not have some of these soil problems. You can get a soil test from your local garden center to tell you what types of problems your soil has and which types of grass seed will work best for you. Take a small sample of soil to the garden center, they will tell you how much and provide you with a container to place the soil in. The tests are cheap and it will tell you exactly what you need to know in order to grow the perfect lawn!When you get your grass seed home, it is important to keep it hydrated and cool until you are ready to plant.Your best option is to place the seeds in a plastic ziplock back with a bit of damp paper towel placed inside. This will keep the seeds cool and allow them to drink water through the paper towel as they start to sprout.You can also place the bag of seeds in the coolest part of your fridge. This can take several weeks or even month so be patient! The seeds won’t sprout right away and they must be kept cool the entire time.Here is a step by step guide to planting your grass seed and caring for it until it is fully grown.If you are planting your grass seed in early spring, go out in late winter and mark your lawn with stakes and string.
Sources & references used in this article:
Some Pesticides permitted in organic gardening by LP Pottorff – Colorado State University/Denver County Extesion …, 2010 – lhcglastonbury.org
Efficacy of eight commercial formulations of lime sulphur on in vitro growth inhibition of Microsporum canis by A Diesel, M Verbrugge, KA Moriello – Veterinary dermatology, 2011 – Wiley Online Library
Lineage of lime sulfur as an insecticide and fungicide by DM Secoy, AE Smith – Bulletin of the ESA, 1983 – academic.oup.com
Self-boiled Lime-sulfur Mixture as a Promising Fungicide by WM Scott – 1908 – books.google.com