Oil contamination on live plants


My hubby was using the portable air compressor yesterday and while it was actively running the oil dip stik blew out. I was not too concerned at the time however this morning I was inspecting one flower container full of petunias for need of water, when I noticed the leaves all looked shiny and spotty, so I felt the leaves and found the shininess was caused from the oil blow out yesterday. SO my question is how do I clean this oil off and do I need to remove the surface oil to prevent the coming rain from contaminating the entire container of soil? The container is a half whiskey barrel, and has always given us a beautiful showing of flowers and scent, all season long. Rain expected this afternoon … HELP !!!


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Searching for information on air compressor oils, we find that there are several types and some with additives to the oil. Without knowing the components in the compressor oil, we will be unable to give species specific help. Nor do we know just how much oil was sprayed onto your petunias. However, we suggest spritzing a soap and water solution on to the affected parts of the plants to neutralize the oily coating. The following link explains how this works:  https://sciencing.com/adding-soap-oil-water-7408600.html

It would be wise to flush the half-barrel with water to remove any residue of the spritzing solution. Dawn dish washing liquid is widely advertised as used to successfully remove oil from oil covered birds without harming them. You may prefer to use a soap and water solution.

We suggest that you try the soap/detergent solution and if it doesn’t work, perhaps replant the barrel with a new planting of petunias which are readily available at this time of year.

We wish you luck and a lovely summer of bloom and fragrance.