Horticulturalist Claire Bickle shows us how to make sprays for the garden with common household products and ingredients.

These days you can buy a specific spray for so many different garden applications that it’s common to end up with a cupboard full of half used sprays. That’s an unnecessary hit to the hip pocket, and on top of that is the waste dilemma of all those single-use plastic sprayers and packaging.

So, try making your own garden sprays. It’s cheaper, it reduces waste, and reduces harmful chemicals that may make their way into the natural environment. These chemicals can hurt beneficial insects including bees and can be toxic to local wildlife, yourself, your family and pets.

Here’ s how to making your own pest and disease sprays using some very common ingredients from your house and garden.

Sap sucking insect sprays

For aphids, scale, mealy bugs, thrips & mites:

  • 2 tablespoons of soap flakes
  • 1 litre of water – warm
  • spray as is, no need to dilute

For scale, mealy bugs, mites:

  • 4 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • mix one part of that mixture to about twenty parts of water

Chewing insect spray

For caterpillars, small grasshoppers & other bugs:

  • 1 cup of molasses
  • 1 litre of water
  • spray on new foliage

All-round bug killer spray 

  • 4 chopped onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 hot chillies
  • mix together and cover with warm soapy water overnight
  • strain off the liquid the next day
  • add 5 litres of water and then spray

Diseases: fungal spray

  • 1 level teaspoon of bicarb soda
  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 litre of skim milk
  • a pinch of condy’s crystals

A good insect attraction spray

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of Vegemite in water and spray all over plants.

This will attract a variety of beneficial insects including insects such as the lacewing, which will predate on various pest insects in the garden.

Chemical-free weedkiller

  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 litre of vinegar
  • Brush this directly onto weeds.
  • Note: this is not a selective herbicide – it will kill anything.

General tips

When you have made up any of these sprays it is always best to use them as soon as possible and not store them, as they will probably lose potency anyhow.

Always label any sprayer bottles or containers that you have used for mixing up in.

Finally, when handling chillies to make your bug killer spray be sure to wear rubber gloves and avoid touching your eyes or any other soft tissues areas. Dispose of gloves when finished and wash hands as a precaution.