How to Use Neem Oil for Plants

How to Use Neem Oil in Your Garden

Neem oil is pretty amazing stuff. In this blog, we'll limit ourselves to talking about its usefulness in the garden, but it's also popping up in toothpastes, cosmetics and skincare products. The oil is extracted from the Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) which is native to India and well known for its effectiveness in getting rid of garden pests. Neem does not kill the bugs directly--it either repels them or causes them to feed less, grow more slowly, and lose interest in laying eggs. This means you won't see instant results--but by using it regularly you'll help control your bug problem and in a way that won't hurt you or the environment.

Which Pests Does Neem Control?

Neem is effective against bugs that eat or chew on plants, such as: aphids, mites, Japanese beetles, leaf-eating caterpillars, squash bugs, Colorade potato beetles and mealybugs. It does NOT harm bees, butterflies or spiders. Some bugs are repelled by Neem (and you'll understand why when you mix it up!). It works best against young insects, and those that grow rapidly.

How to Use Neem Oil for Plants

  • Begin spraying your plants with Neem oil before pests become a serious problem. Start early and spray about once a week, making sure to coat the leaves well with the oil mixture.
  • Because Neem oil can be harmful to some plants, do a test on sensitive plants. Spray just one leaf on the plant and wait 24 hours to be sure there's no damage.
  • It's best to apply Neem in the evening so the oil has time to be absorbed before being exposed to direct sunlight and higher temperatures.


Neem oil can be made into a natural insecticide spray that has two wonderful advantages:

  1. It will help to get rid of the harmful bugs but not harm the beneficial bugs. Pretty neat!
  2.  It's natural and harmless to us humans.


Recipe for Making Your Own Neem Oil Spray for Plants:

To make one liter of natural plant pest control spray:

Use 5 ml (one teaspoon) Neem oil, 2 ml (approx 1/2 tsp) gentle liquid soap and 32oz of warm water. This will make a 0.5% solution. To make it stronger, double the amount of Neem oil and soap.

Some tips: Using warm water is key to helping mix the Neem. Combine the warm water with the soap first and then slowly add your Neem oil, mixing (a whisk would be helpful) briskly. Pour the blend into a spray bottle and use within 8 hours. The Neem will begin to break down quickly once mixed up with the water, so use it all at once and make up a fresh batch each time. Shake bottle well as you spray to keep the Neem and water mixed together.

Looking for Neem Oil? We have it here.

Read more about Neem at the American Orchid Society site (http://www.aos.org/Default.aspx?id=132) and Cornell University (http://web.pppmb.cals.cornell.edu/resourceguide/pdf/resource-guide-for-organic-insect-and-disease-management.pdf)

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