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Lime-sulfur Spray Availability for Home Gardeners

Background Situation:

Home gardeners in Washington State haven’t been able to buy lime sulfur spray in recent years. Lime sulfur had been used for years to control fungi on roses, fruit trees and ornamentals.

There is a reason lime sulfur hasn’t been available. In early 2008, EPA questioned whether lime sulfur was so caustic that it should be reclassified as a restricted-use chemical. Only people with pesticide licenses can buy restricted-use products. This would be a problem for home gardeners; they don’t have licenses.

In April 2008, Lilly-Miller voluntarily cancelled its Dormant Spray® registration with EPA. Bonide Products, Inc., which made a similar lime sulfur product, cancelled their registration at the same time.

EPA gives retailers up to a year to sell their shelf stock in these situations. Retailers continued selling home garden lime sulfur products until May 2009. WSDA continued to register these products, and PICOL continued to list these products, through December 2010.

The confusion happened in summer 2009, when Washington State gardeners couldn’t find lime-sulfur products on store shelves even when the products were registered.

Lime sulfur is a modified form of elemental sulfur.

Lime sulfur is a modified form of elemental sulfur.

Product Update:

In 2013, Lilly-Miller registered a new home garden product with lime sulfur: Polysul®. Another company, Voluntary Purchasing Group (VPG) also registered a lime-sulfur product but it’s both a home garden and commercial use. Recommending these products requires a Washington State pesticide license. So WSU Master Gardeners cannot recommend the VPG product.

It isn’t known if stores in Washington State sell either product. Home gardeners who bought and still had earlier lime sulfur products can use them until gone.

Bottom Line:

Home gardeners may have trouble finding lime sulfur products. Master Gardeners can recommend lime sulfur products as one of several management options if and when suggested by WSU Hortsense.

Additional Resources:

WSU Hortsense fact sheets ( on pest management.

Federal Register web page for Dormant Spray® voluntary cancellation (pgs. 2 and page 9).

PICOL (Pesticide Information Center Online) database for a list of WSDA-registered labels:

Issued by:

Dr. Catherine Daniels
Washington State Pest Management Resource Service
office: (253) 445-4611
January 23, 2014

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