Spreader Sticker and Why You Need It

It’s been an ideal summer for bug infestations with the hot, dry weather and many people that are coming into the garden center have been complaining that they’ve been spraying and spraying, but that their chemicals or fertilizers just don’t seem to be working. One of the first things we ask them is, “Are you using a spreader sticker?”

Most people aren’t aware of this wonderful product that will make just about any pesticide, herbicide, fungicide, insecticide or even liquid fertilizer work better and be more effective. This is one product you truly do need in your arsenal if you want your controls to work well. This additive increases absorption, translocation and sticking. In short, spreader sticker is quite simply put, glue for your preparations.

We did a test this summer at the garden center and applied some weed killer using a spreader sticker and also applied some without the addition of the adjuvant. Even the young man who did the application noticed the difference in the performance of the weed killers and commented that he should have added spreader sticker to the mix.

Spreader sticker works in two ways. The “spreader” part is a surfactant that works to break the surface tension on the leaves thereby “spreading” the preparation all over the surface more evenly rather than beading up or running off as can happen many times when you spray. The “sticker” part is the glue that makes your spray stick to those leaves. Together they are the perfect storm as far as an additive to optimize the performance and increase the efficacy of your spray. Stickers are generally not easily water soluble so they will also help to keep the spray on the leaves when it rains or you use your sprinklers.

The addition of a spreader sticker is especially important when you are using it to control anything that the spray needs to touch. Since most sprays work best by contact type activity, pests like aphids or cutworms, or fungus in a lawn, are ideal situations under which you’d want to add a spreader sticker.

Although some people prefer to try to imitate these additives by adding Dawn dish soap, for instance, it’s not a good idea and the success rate is not generally good for several reasons. In some cases, the effectiveness of the chemicals in your spray can be altered by the addition of something that doesn’t belong there in the first place, like the dish soap. This can result in burning or even death to your plants. In addition, since there is no set dosage for adding these home remedies, you always run the risk of adding too much or too little and that can also get you into trouble in your garden. Essentially, you are using them at your own risk.

As with any preparation, always, always read the label directions on both the chemical or fertilizer you are wishing to add the spreader sticker to, and also the spreader sticker preparation itself. Some of them may specifically state, “Do not mix with other pesticide products or spray adjuvants” and you’ll want to be careful of that. 

While spreader stickers won’t eliminate the need to re-apply chemicals throughout the season, they do help to stretch your dollars when you do need to apply controls or fertilizer because they make them work better and stay on the plants longer. With the high cost of keeping your yard pest and disease free, the small price you pay for the addition of the spreader sticker is cheap insurance that these products will work to their very optimum capabilities.