Greensboro -- GMS Reporter Patrick Phillippi wanted a garden he could eat. He planted a tomato plant and a hot pepper plant on his balcony. They were growing nicely until he noticed some Whiteflies making themselves quite at home and enjoying a tasty meal. He sprang into action and those little guys were gone within 24 hours!
What did he use? It was a simple mixture of dish soap and water.
Should you try it? Well, maybe not.
Here's what happens according to Jeff Gillman in "The Truth About Garden Remedies". The dish soap washes off the wax cuticle that surrounds soft bodied insects. Once it's gone, they can't retain their body moisture and will dry up and die.
So far, so good!
Here's the tragic flaw. Guess what else has a wax cuticle. That's right, the plant's leaves have one too. The mixture won't kill the plant immediately but over time, it will keep losing moisture and eventually could die.
Gillman recommends that if you have this problem, try a commercial insecticide. They are very effective but are formulated to protect the plant and kill the bugs. You can find them at any garden center. They cost a few dollars but it will even out when you don't kill your plants and end up having to buy your veggies.
Patrick was lucky. His plants survived. It can work but if you get too much or too little soap, it can kill the plant or be ineffective. If you still want to try the dish soap, try it for a few days on one or two leaves. You can spare a few leaves but not the whole plant. Also, never use antibacterial soap.
The Truth ABout Garden Remedies By: Jeff Gillman