It doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing one could be doing on a Saturday afternoon – we admit that. Unfortunately though we see far too many home gardeners are finding themselves in a rather unforgiving situation after using a pesticide product in a way that is not in line with the directions on the label. When an edible plant is involved, whether a delicious tomato with a bumper crop on the way, or a family heirloom lemon tree that has been a steady performer for generations, the response is always an unhappy one when we advise – as we are obliged to do – that the plant can no longer be considered ‘safe’ for consumption.

This is a heartbreaking situation that we don’t want to see – not even once. So we’ve put together a quick go-to guide on how to read a pesticide label in New Zealand, so that gardeners of all experience levels can be empowered to comprehend and interpret label directions for themselves – and get it right the first time! The following advice can be adapted to labels for other registered garden products as well, such as fungicides, miticides and even herbicides.

Read it all…

The first step when considering using a pesticide product for the first time is to read the entire label in full. Not only will this give you an overview of how the product can be used, but also of any particular warnings and cautions that should be observed – note these as a priority.

We Are Here to Help!

Don’t forget, if these directions don’t seem to apply to your situation, or perhaps you are still trying to diagnose what exactly is going on in your particular case – we are available to answer your questions and help steer you in the right direction. There are few things we enjoy more than cracking a tough case, but most importantly we want all gardeners to be using our products in a safe and sustainable way.

When it comes to plant protection: if in doubt we would much rather you give us a shout!

Understanding the ‘How to Use’ Table:

And now for the tricky bit. While the whole product label, front and back (where applicable), does serve as a legal document of sorts; it is this table that spells out the specific situations in which the respective product can be applied. Note that rarely will this table specify any particular situations where the product cannot be used. So as a rule, if your intended use does not fit within a specified use on the ‘How to Use’ table: your intended use is not approved for the product in question – so please don’t use the product in this case.


Step 1: Finding your Plant

In the first column, check to see if your plant is listed. If none of the plants/plant groups listed include your own, please don’t use the product in this case. We may be able to suggest a suitable alternative for your application.

Step 2: Finding your Pest

In the second column, check to see if your targeted pest is listed. If none of the pests/pest groups listed include your own, please don’t use the product in this case. We may be able to suggest a suitable alternative for your application.

Step 3: Mixing and Application Rates

In this column, included on concentrate products that require preparation before spraying, you can find the correct dilution and other application rate details, such as the amount to be applied per square metre of lawn.

Step 4: How to Apply

In the final column, you should see concise directions for how and when to apply. These details are critical to safe, effective and environmentally sustainable use of the product. If you are unable to apply the product in line with these directions, please don’t use the product in this case. We may be able to suggest a suitable alternative for your application.

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