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My husband and father-in-law planted an almond tree 2 years ago. It is about 9 feet tall and was growing really well and was healthy. Lately it has been covered in beetles and the leaves have been getting chewed on. I am not a gardener by any means but I told my husband I used Dawn dish soap water mix on a rise plant I had, and it kept the bugs away and grew really nicely, so he tried it.

The very next day, all the leaves were wilted and turning brown. Did my not so expert advice kill the tree, and is there anything that will help revive it? I Googled the mixture and it says that hot and sunny weather can overheat the soap and burn the tree. This has been the case in Wisconsin since he sprayed it.

My father-in-law was pretty partial to this beloved tree! Can you please help me decide what to do next?

  • Bugs tend to attack things that are weak. I'm not saying a bug won't have a snack on a healthy leaf, but to be covered in bugs suggests a closer inspection into the health of the tree. The soap reaction reinforces my theory. Consider a detailed soil test and learning more about the soil conditions where almonds grow natively, then try to replicate those native soil conditions. – Randy Jul 19 '13 at 16:21
  • How is your almond doing? What about father-in-law? – VividD Nov 14 '17 at 9:04
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Dish soap is a proven pest control method for soft bodied insects but if applied with too much soap and not enough water during hot temperatures will burn foliage. You can always spray with soap and water, wait ten minutes and wash it off. Soap blocks the breathing tubes of insects so you only have to have it on for a few minutes.

For the almond, most healthy trees will recover from something like this. You can help by:

  • rinsing the tree down once
  • watering generously for the next few weeks until new foliage is established

Next spring is the time to start observing for pest activity. Many pest controls are better controlled when the problem is just starting. Act as soon as the problem occurs.

Why not ask another question about what kind of pest it was? Upload a picture to imgur.com

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