Using Vegetable Oil On Plants (What you should know first)


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Vegetable oil can be beneficial when used on plants. It is a cost-effective way of cleaning plant leaves while at the same time fighting off pests.

Vegetable oil is beneficial for plants as it can play a protective role against pests while giving leaves a clean and shiny appearance when applied. However, it can damage the plants when not used correctly. Applying vegetable oil to plants by misting is proven to be most effective while gaining all its benefits.

After reading the article, you will have a good understanding of using vegetable oil on plants, using it as fertilizer, and how to use it against pests.

Using vegetable oils on plants

Can Vegetable Oil Be Used as Fertilizer?

Vegetable oil can be good for the plants; however, it is advisable not to use it as a fertilizer.

There are many cons to using vegetable oil as a fertilizer for plants. 

Fertilizers contain measured amounts of macro and micronutrients that plants use for growth and development. 

The macronutrients are: (NPK)

  • Nitrogen 
  • Prosperous 
  • Potassium

And Micronutrients are small amounts of minerals like iron, magnesium, boron, copper etc.

Vegetable oils do not contain such nutrients, and therefore are not a suitable fertilizer for plants.

Another drawback is its attractiveness to pests. Due to vegetable oil, many insects or pests get attracted to the plants. 

As we all know, pests can dramatically damage the normal functioning and health of plants. Many pests feed on the root hairs and leaves of the plants. 

Some pests can even transfer fungal and bacterial infections from infected plants to noninfected plants as well.

Therefore, using vegetable oil as the main fertilizer would not be a wise decision. 

However, if you are interested in a fertilizer that will keep your plant healthy for a long time with minimal intervention, you can try this Osmocote fertilizer from amazon which is also very affordable.

Osmocoat fertilizer

What Does Vegetable Oil Contain?

Nutrition Facts for 1 tablespoon of vegetable oils.

Total Fat 14g
Saturated Fat1g
Trans Fat 0.3g
Polyunsaturated Fat8.9g
Monounsaturated Fat3.1g
Vitamin A0% DV
Vitamin C0% DV
Calcium0% DV
Iron0% DV

Fact: Vegetable oil contains the highest levels of polyunsaturated fats compared with olive, coconut, and canola oil.

The most common liquid vegetable oils used in the food industry include soybean, canola, sunflower, cottonseed, and corn.

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils contain trans fats. Trans fats are unsaturated fatty acids with different chemical structures.

Vegetable oil contains mainly Fatty acids

How Fatty Acids Helps Plants Fight against Diseases

Fatty acids are generally present in every cell of the plants. 

It plays a significant role in the anatomy or the construction of plant cells and the plant’s biological function. 

Fatty acids and lipids, which are major and essential constituents of all plant cells, not only provide structural integrity and energy for various metabolic processes but can also function as signal transduction mediators.

This helps plants to send signals around their structure to alert different parts if there is an attraction from pest and disease so the plant as a whole can trigger an immune defense to fight against any potential intruders.

Types of Vegetable Oil you can Use on Plants

  • Soybean oil.
  • Corn oil.
  • Cottonseed oil.
  • Canola oil.
  • Sunflower oil.
  • Sesame oil.
  • Grapeseed oil.
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Peanut Oil
Types of vegetable oils for plants

Using Vegetable Oil To Clean Plant Leaves:

Vegetable oil is extensively used all around the world to clean the scales of plants. Removal of the plant scales can be done in two ways:

Misting the Leaves

  1. First is the use of vegetable oil in the form of a spray.
  2. With the help of a spray, you can easily shower and clean all the scales present on plants. 

Wiping with a Clean Cloth

Use vegetable oil and water solution.

  1. To prepare the solution, add a little bit of water to the vegetable oil
  2. Mix components thoroughly.
  3. Once the mixture is ready, find a clean fabric, soak it in the solution.
  4. Finally, rub the soaked fabric over your plants to remove the scales. 

Misting is also a good way of increasing the humidity around your plant as well as for watering lightly without the effects of overwatering. You can try this misting bottle from amazon which is cheap, durable, and gets the job done.

misting can amazon

What Are the Downsides of Using Vegetable Oil on Plants?

Although vegetable oil has many nutritional benefits for humans, it isn’t very suitable for plants. 

There are several drawbacks attached to vegetable oil when it comes to plants.

A few downsides of using vegetable oil are:

  • Similar to any other oil, vegetable oil is also not soluble with water.

    Therefore, when we apply a layer of vegetable oil to our growing mediums to increase the fertility of our plants, we create a hindrance between plants and water.

    As a result, plants will face difficulty in absorbing the required amount of water. 
  • As we mentioned earlier in the article, do not use vegetable oil even when you are only using it to polish or clean the leaves.

    This is because vegetable oil blocks the pores present on the leaves by creating a thin layer on the surface.

    As a result, your plant will not be able to absorb sunlight and take oxygen until the coating is wiped or removed.

    Therefore, think twice before applying vegetable oil to your plant’s leaves. 
  • Another downside of vegetable oil is its potential to burn your plants. This is because when you rub or spray vegetable oil on the surfaces of leaves, it sticks there for a long time.

    With their pores closed, leaves can’t absorb the sunlight when it is dropped on their surfaces. As a result, the surface of leaves turns hot and starts burning the leaf. 
  • If you are planning to mix vegetable oil in water and then use that solution to water the plants, think again.

    Vegetable oil can poison water and kill your plants as it can lower the pH and increase bacteria levels in the water is added in large or equal quantities.
  • Vegetable oil or general-purpose oil sucks out any natural nutrients and mineral values from water, depriving the plants of essential minerals and nutrients. 
  • Last but not least, vegetable oil can also make dust stick to the surface of leaves. It’s not only about vegetable oil but all oils, in general, have sticky properties.

    The dust particles in the air will get stuck to the leaves, making your plant look dirty or ugly. 

How To Apply Vegetable Oil?

Vegetable oil is not good for the plant if it is applied through the soil. But it would not harm plants if it is applied in the form of a spray.

Vegetable oil can also be used to rub up against or polish the scales or fronds of the plants. The appearance of the scales or fronds of the plant can be beautified by it. 

Nurseries sometimes use vegetable oil to clean the scales of the ornamental plants and improve their appearance. 

Vegetable oil can also kill many of the harmful substances or organisms from the surface of the plants. However, if used too much, it can also damage plants. 

I have used a cost-effective Liquid Fertilizer called Purived to help strengthen my plant leaves, stems, and their overall health. You can find it by clicking here!

purvied for stronger leaves

Can You Add Vegetable Oil To The Soil?

Vegetable oil should not be used in the soil as it may damage the plant rather than bring any benefits. 

If it is necessary to add vegetable oil to the soil for the betterment of the plant, it should be given to the plant via soil in a very tiny quantity. 

It should be added to the soil with flake humus or any other decaying matter (which works as a fertilizer) so that it can be thoroughly mixed and absorbed into the soil; it will not hinder the movement of the water towards the body of the plant.

Controlling Pests With Vegetable Oil:

Vegetable oil can easily control pests and many other insects that have a damaging effect on plants. 

Spraying vegetable oil on the leaves keeps many of the pests or bugs away from the plants. 

But if it is applied in a large amount through the soil, it may increase the pests that are harmful to the normal growth of the plants rather than decreasing them. 

Many oils, including vegetable oil, are still used to keep the pests away from the plant bodies. 

But this cannot be done by applying it through the soil. 

Controlling pests can be done if oil is used as a solution of water and vegetable oil. 

Method 1

  1. Mix a few drops of vegetable oil (5ml) and one gallon of water to make an organic repellent
  2. Spray it around the plant onto the leaves. 

Method 2

Another quick and easy pest repelling recipe can be made by mixing

  • 5ml Vegetable Oil
  • 3ml Dish Washing Liquid
  • 1 Gallon of water

They are then mixed thoroughly and then applied by misting to the plant’s foliage during the cooler parts of the day, such as early mornings (7 am -9 am) and late evenings (5 pm – 7 pm)

In a day or two, all pests will no longer be lurking around the plant.

A more proven, fail-safe, and cost-effective organic pest control I have used on my plants is neem oil which I have found on amazon.

Can Coconut Oil be Used on Plants?

Coconut Oil can be used on plants to clean and shine leaves. The oil creates a slippery surface on the leaves preventing pests from laying eggs and feeding. Coconut oil can be applied by wiping the surface with a clean cloth soaked with the oil and by misting.

To apply coconut oil by Misting you will need the following materials:

  • 10 mls of coconut oil
  • 3ml Dish Washing Liquid
  • Empty jar
  • Spray bottle

Note: If not cleaned properly, the coconut oil can also accumulate dust and cause plugging of pores on the leaf responsible for transpiration and photosynthesis. 

The Takeaway:

Although Vegetable oil has many essential components to aid a plant’s growth and health,  you should think twice before using it as a fertilizer. 

If added to large quantities, vegetable oil can displace water movements and attract multiple pests and rodents. 

However, if you still want to use vegetable oil on your plants, use it by mixing it in your compost. 

Adding a tiny amount of vegetable oil to your compost will not harm your plant. 

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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