The Q&A Archives: Wrong Pesticide

Question: I have had a flowering crab for about 7 yrs. I isn't much bigger now than when it was planted. Two yrs ago it became infested with caterpillers. When I noticed them, I sprayed with Raid. I got the caterpillers, and almost killed the tree. It has taken 2 yrs to recover, it is blossoming at this very moment, and quite pretty, but oh so small. What can I do to make it grow? Thanks for any and all suggestions.

Answer: I can't stress enough how important it is to use care in choosing any pesticides, following label directions exactly. Raid isn't formulated for use on plants, so I'm not surprised it damaged the tree. Pesticide labels list the pests they are intended to control, plus the plants they are safe to use on.

It sounds like your plant just needs some time to recover from its trauma. Make sure it gets adequate water. If you planted it in a spot with full sun in a rich, well-drained soil, it should recover fine. You might want to spread a layer of compost in a band under the tree, keeping it away from direct contact with the trunk. Do not try to "hurry" the tree along by using lots and lots of fertilizer. It needs time to recover and grow into a strong, sturdy tree.

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