Foliar sprays can be an effective pest preventative, macro and micronutrient supplement, growth enhancer, and even a microbial application. Each of these fantastic, all natural choices are much healthier and more advantageous than spraying harmful chemicals on your garden.
Plants absorb foliar sprays through osmosis (absorption) and their stoma, which are like little pores on the underside of the leaf. But these processes are slow and evaporation is working against you. So, in order to be most effective you should keep the leaf surface (the top & bottom) wet for as long as possible and no, this does not mean you should drench your plants as much as possible, as this practice can actually harm your plants in certain conditions (hot sun + water = steam).
The stomata of the leaf close during the day to prevent the plant from losing too much water due to evaporation (a process called evapotranspiration). You should do the same. By spraying early in the morning when the stomata are open, you’re giving them more time to absorb all the goodies and giving them a nice little jumpstart to the day. Just like a morning coffee for your plants.
In most applications, the finer the mist the better, so stop using that little handheld spray mister you bought at the dollar store and get yourself a pressurized sprayer. You’ll use less spray (save $$), be more effective and if you clean it after each use, it will last you for years.
Wetting Agents – Actually decreases the surface tension of water (think lubricant), helping the spray to coat the leaf surface more evenly. Also helps keep your spray nozzle from clogging. Should be added every time you spray or you’re wasting product.Humic & Fulvic Acid – Opens the leaf stoma further and increases the speed at which plants can absorb and transport nutrients. Faster nutrient availability = faster growth.
Liquid Kelp – Contains up to 60 elements and natural growth hormones, plus about 70 other fantastic things that you can read about here. One of the best things you can spray on your plants from seeds all the way to harvest.
Photosynthetic Enhancers – Like plant steroids, these help your plant more effectively use more light spectrums for photosynthesis. Beefing up stems, branches and leaves. “Sun’s out, Guns out”!
Pest Preventatives – Miticides, fungicides, and insecticides. Pretty much any garden product containing “cide” fall into this category. These work best if you’re applying on a regular basis before you actually run into a problem, giving the plants time to build up a natural resistance to the pests. One of our favorites is Neem oil (read more here), because it also acts as a sticker oil.
Sticker oil – Helps the water droplets stay on the leaves longer instead of running off and dripping somewhere that’s not doing any good. You know… like not on the plant. Works best when you emulsify it first (shaken not stirred, Mr. Bond) before spraying.
Fish emulsion – Really stinky stuff that’s a great source of nitrogen, micronutrients and amino acids. Brings your plant to its fullest potential with colors, scents and flavors that you never knew were possible. It’s a smell that you’ll learn to love, just keep it outside.
Amino Acids – Helps the plant build more proteins which are crucial to the construction of cell walls in the flowers, stems, leaves and pretty much every other part of the plant. Enough said.
– Like a microbial superfood smoothie. When freshly brewed, it suppresses diseases, promotes earlier and heavier flowering, enhances root growth, increases nutrient availability and stress management. And when the tea’s microbes stick to the surface of the leaf, they prevent disease causing organisms from attaching to the plant. This stuff is so magical that it needs its own blog post. Make sure that you use a low pressure sprayer that creates bigger droplets to ensure the delivery of all those awesome little microbes.