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How to Spray Fruit Trees in the Spring

By Tracy Morris ; Updated September 21, 2017
A spring application of dormant oil can protect fruit trees from insects such as aphids.
green aphids image by joanna wnuk from Fotolia.com

Many fruit trees, such as apple trees, require frequent application of pesticides, fungicides and horticulture oils and soaps from spring until harvest. One of the first treatments that many agricultural colleges recommend for fruit trees is a spray of dormant oil in spring before the first buds appear on a fruit tree. An application of dormant oil in early spring will help control pests such as aphids, scale and mites. Dormant oils spread over the bark of trees and coat eggs and larvae of dormant insects to kill them.

Pull on protective clothing while handling horticulture oil such as dormant oil. Protective clothing may include long-sleeve shirts and pants as well as gloves and breathing protection.

Mix mineral oil, soap and water in a stock pot on boil, stirring often. Allow the mixture to cool. Mix the oil mixture with water at a ratio of 1 part oil to 20 parts water. Pour the solution into the holding tank of a tank sprayer.

Pressurize the tank sprayer by grasping the spray handle and working the sprayer up and down until pressure is built up in the tank.

Hold the tank in one hand and the application wand in the other. Activate the wand to release a fine mist of oil from the end.

Wave the wand over your fruit tree using even, straight strokes to distribute the mist over the tree. Drench the branches thoroughly with the spray.

Shower after applying dormant oil to eliminate all oil residue from your skin.


Things You Will Need

  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Long pants
  • Breathing protection
  • Gloves
  • 1 gallon of mineral oil
  • 1 pound of oil-based soap
  • ½ gallon of water
  • Stock pot
  • Stirring rod
  • Tank sprayer


  • Spray your tree on a day when temperatures remain above 40 degrees and you do not expect freezing temperatures for another 48 hours.


  • Use a special dormant oil formulated for citrus trees on those types of fruit trees. Citrus leaves can be damaged by ordinary dormant oil residue left on the trees.
  • Do not spray dormant oil after fruit trees begin to bud. Dormant oil can severely damage fruit trees once they begin to bud.

About the Author


Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.