Organic Plant Surfactant

knowboddyMarch 14, 2009

I'm currently trying to decide on a surfactant to use for foliar spraying on my plants, but I want it to be organic. I tried searching for "organic plant surfactant" but I only found one product. Something called Wet Betty that's made by Advanced Nutrients.

It definitely looks like what I want but I was wondering if there were other options out there for surfactants that were organic and safe to use on plants.

So what do you organic gardeners use as a surfactant on your plants?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Try a search for Coco-wet.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 4:16PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Look for yucca juice.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 12:54PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Now that I posted that brief reply, it sunk in what you wanted it for. Have you tried putting table sugar (or molasses) in with the spray? You might try just using sugar water in the sprayer and see if that gives you the sticking effect you want. Start with a couple teaspoons per gallon of water and adjust from there.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 12:56PM
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Here is a bit of homework on the subject of organic surfactants that might prove useful to you and others.
Do a search for the following which you should find of interest:
1....yucca extract
2....surfactants containing yucca extract
3....surfactants + seaweed

A lot of reading! Over the past 25 years I have tried various combinations of the above, none of which have been harmful. Then last year I stumbled onto the easiest, very available organic surfactant which is sold at Target and can be found on the shelf with dish washing soaps. It's name is "Method-Go Naked". Read labels as there are several types of Method which have added colors. Use the clear one named Go Naked. Okay, they named it, I didn't! Inexpensive, mainly a seaweed extract. What follows is based on my year of experimenting with it. I have trialed it on everything from just sprouting seeds, the lawn and mature plants. No problems.

Some special instructions are needed for its use as it contains twice the amount of surfactant as other dish washing soaps.

For hand sprayers use two drops of Method to 4 cups of water/liquid.

For hose end sprayers, fill the sprayer with whatever you plan to use and add 1 tablespoon of Method as a sticker. Then set the dial for the amount necessary for the type of spray you are using.

The label on Method-Go Naked reads: Blend of naturally derived and biodegradable surfactants, corn, alcohol, table salt, citric acid, aloe vera gel, vitamine E, preservatve (under 0.1%), purified water.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 2:05PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

ordinary dish detergent will do the same.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 2:07PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I agree with gardenlen if you are not going to be picky about it being organic. I've never used yucca extract but it is the one organic surfactant I know of. I always use a few drops of generic hair shampoo. I use the Wal-Mart one that looks like baby shampoo but has a different formula from real Johnson's Baby Shampoo.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 11:17AM
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Here are several that we use that are pretty cheap:

Ivory Dish soap (100% pure right on the label)
Method-Go Naked
Dreft Laundry Powder (also 100% pure & no harsh detergents)

This next one is organic & bio-degrable but, harder to find now they've changed their formula, also you have to purchase through a distributor:

Shaklee Basic-H (original formula ONLY not the new H2)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 2:22PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild liquid soap.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 4:14PM
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A surfactant reduces the surface tension of water and any soap or detergent will do that, so just pick an organic soap to use.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 6:44AM
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Thanks for all the advice. I actually ended up getting the Organic Wet Betty I was talking about, it's made from yucca extract and that really seemed to me to be the way to go. It's done everything I expect a plant surfactant to so I'm completely satisfied with it so far.

kimmsr's suggestion about organic soap was something I hadn't thought of. They make organic everything else, soap would seem to be obvious but it hadn't occurred to me. Maybe I'll try that the next time I'm looking for a plant surfactant.

Also, I wanted to point out that there's a big difference between "100% pure" and "100% organic". You can have pure synthetics that aren't remotely organic. Pure just tells you it's not made of anything else. How much difference that would make in a surfactant I don't know, but if it's important that your plants are 100% organic it is an important distinction.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 9:10PM
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