How to Use Neem Oil on Plants

neem plant

Are you tired of tiny little insects chewing up your houseplants or garden? If you’ve been seeking out a way to eradicate them without using toxic pesticides, you’re in luck. 

Neem oil is the answer to all your problems.

It’s a powerful organic solution that’s safe to use and non-toxic. It’s effective at controlling disease and insects in your garden. 

If you are a plant enthusiast or a full-time organic gardener, you need to have neem oil in your garden supplies.

Read on to find out all the benefits of neem oil and how to make the most out of it for your plants.

What is Neem Oil?

Neem oil comes from the seeds and leaves of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). It’s native to India and South Asia.

Neem leaves

In these regions, the tree is considered sacred due to its numerous benefits. It’s an essential component in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. 

Neem oil is a versatile product that’s used in both traditional and modern neem remedies. Today, it can be found in various cosmetics and insect repellents. 

The oil is highly favored among organic gardeners as it is biodegradable, organic, and safe to use. Beneficial insects such as earthworms can survive in your garden as long as you don’t spray the oil onto them. 

Neem cakes also work as an effective pesticide and fertilizer for your plants. The cake is made from organic manure which is a byproduct of pressed kernels from seeds and neem fruit.

Natural neem cake
Image courtesy

They help fertilize the soil by adding to the availability of nitrogen in it. They also help control grubs, white ants, and nematodes

If you already have neem trees in your garden or want to grow them, here’s how. You will be able to make your own pesticide from them in no time.

What Bugs Does Neem Oil Kill?

Neem oil contains a compound called azadirachtin. This acts as a natural insecticide and repellent. It disrupts an insect’s feeding and growth patterns when consumed. 

Azadirachtin stops insects from feeding, which stunts their growth. This then prevents the larvae from developing into their adult form. As time goes by, a whole colony of these insects will die out. 

Neem oil also has a strong aroma that makes it hard for bugs to consume your plants when applied. 

For your garden, neem oil can be used to treat a number of ailments:

Fungus: The oil works against fungal diseases that can damage your plants. Examples are: powdery mildew, black spot, rust, and anthracnose.

Insects: Neem oil repels or kills harmful mites and insects in your garden. Neem can attack these insects at different stages of their life cycle. Some bugs get killed outright. For others, the larvae are eradicated and plant munchers repelled by the bitter taste. 

Common pests combated by neem oil include: 

  • Cabbage worms
  • Japanese beetles
  • Earwigs
  • Green stink bugs
  • Adelgids
  • Flea beetles
  • Squash bugs
  • Sawflies
  • Harlequin bugs
  • Gypsy moth caterpillars
  • Mealybugs
  • Gnats
  • Termites
  • Aphids
  • Grasshoppers

Neem oil insecticides are effective against nematodes as they prevent them from spreading. These small, slender worms cause damage to plants and are hard to control. 

The extracts from the seeds (kernels) are particularly good at controlling root-knot nematodes. The neem oil prevents their larvae from developing to mature stages. This is a good trump card to have seeing as this is one of the most destructive kinds of nematodes. 

When Should I Apply Neem Oil?

You can either make your own neem oil spray or buy commercial neem oil products.

If you choose to buy neem sprays you save on the time needed to find and mix the ingredients yourself. Commercial products are also non-toxic and well-tested. 

The major downside to a store-bought version is the amount of azadirachtin available. A product with little azadirachtin is less effective at solving any pest problems and also has extra unnecessary compounds. 

Making your own neem oil spray is simple. This puts you in control of the concentrations you can make for your plants. You can change the formula as many times as you see fit. Do so according to your experience and plant observation.

Making Your Own Neem Oil Spray

If you decide to make your own spray, buy 100% pure, cold-pressed neem oil. It needs to be cold-pressed because azadirachtin is destroyed by heat. 

A great advantage to making your own spray is that you don’t need many ingredients. All you need is:

  • Neem oil
  • Warm water
  • An emulsifier (liquid soap will do) 

Because oil and water don’t mix, you need to add in mild liquid soap to do the trick. 

To make 1 liter of a mild solution you will need:

  • 1 liter of water
  • 1 teaspoon of neem oil
  • 1-2 ml of mild liquid soap

Simply mix the soap and water in a spray bottle and shake well to dissolve the soap. Add in the neem oil and shake again. 

To up the concentrations just increase the ingredients accordingly.

How to Apply Neem Oil Spray on Your Plant

Be sure to apply the oil to a small area of your garden to evaluate its effects in the first 24 hours. For example, you can apply neem oil on a plant infected with powdery mildew for a week. Then, monitor its response before using your spray on the entire garden.  

Use your spray on a plant once every week for good measure. Using neem oil sprays works best as a preventive method especially if your area has an upcoming pest infestation. 

When using neem oil, make sure your plant leaves are completely coated so that the active ingredients come into full contact with fungi, pests, and insects. 

Even though neem oil is truly amazing, too much of it might kill some plants. This occurs if the plant is young and the oil is applied too heavily. The best time to use the spray is in the evening for outdoor plants. 

For indoor plants, ensure they are out of direct sunlight first to prevent leaf burn.

You can use neem oil on repeat without worrying about its effectiveness. This is because insects don’t have the ability to become immune to neem oil pesticides as they do with other kinds of pesticides. 

Furthermore, you can utilize neem oil sprays on all stages of plant growth – from the moment you plant the seeds until you harvest. All you need to do is wash all your plants and veggies thoroughly before eating.

Is Neem Oil Safe for Humans?

When it comes to oil, neem is recognized by the EPA as a safe product. As such residue on your plants and produce is acceptable. 

But, there are groups of people that should stay away from neem products – pesticides included. These are children, pregnant women, and women trying to conceive

When pure neem oil is ingested without any other solutions it can induce drowsiness and vomiting.

More Gardening Ideas

Organic gardeners make conscious choices to improve the quality of their gardens daily. We understand the pride that comes from creating the perfect oasis in your own home. 

This is why our articles contain well-researched, high-quality information on how to care for your plants. better yet, our shop also has exemplary tools you’ll need on this journey.

Now that you know about the numerous benefits of neem oil, why not try growing the plant? Visit our shop today for the best supplies to get you started!

Featured image: by Forest and Kim Starr

neem plant japanese beetle and earwig with text overlay how to use neem oil on plants

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