How to Use Neem Oil for Plants

If you have been following our care tips on houseplants at Plantly, you have heard the word neem oil for plants often used when taking care of pest infestations.

Yet, what is neem oil spray, and when and how should you use it. Today, we will look at this excellent organic solution to keep your plants pest-free.

Neem Oil Comes From the Neem Tree

neem tree flowering

One of the most reliable pesticides you can use is neem oil, and the best of all, it is organic. In our care guides, it is the first thing we mention for pest infestations to control insects. Why because using a neem oil mixture works?

Hence, it is something you want to have on hand if you are a plant lover. Best of all, you can find neem oil products available at your local store or online. But where does neem oil come from?

The oil comes from the Azadirachta indica or neem trees. The cultivar is prevalent in tropical climates. So, people take the seeds and fruits of the plant and press them together to get a vegetable oil called neem oil.

The oil can be yellow, vibrant red, or brown with a pungent odor smelling like a mix of garlic and peanuts. The oil also has a sulfuric tinge. You can find some neem oil products combined with vegetable oil and a surfactant that helps subsume the oil to make it ready to use on your plants.

Still, the oil does not mix very well when used with water. Still, the fatty acids (triglycerides) have insecticidal properties, antiviral, bactericidal, and fungicidal properties. So, for organic gardening, this is a valuable product to have.

Neem oil can kill aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, thrips, to whiteflies on contact. Yet, the best neem oil spray is one with a hydrophobic extract treated with alcohol. It helps fight most insects while combatting fungal diseases like rust and mildew.

Organic neem oil is safe on plant leaves until the harvest day. So, if you need effective pest control that treats over 200 types of insects and bio fungicides, neem oil is a staple in any home.

How Does Neem Oil Spray Kill Pests

applying neem oil to plant pests

Neem oil is a powerful insecticide with pesticide properties. Still, the chemical that is the active ingredient in most neem seed oil is Azadirachtin. Combined with the other active compounds, the chemical promotes anti-feeding behaviors in soft-bodied insects.

Furthermore, it is a hormone disruptor that prevents insect larvae’s normal growth and development. So, for preventative measures, neem oil is effective in all stages of an insect’s growth.

It will kill the eggs, larvae, nymphs, to adults. For this reason, most countries use a neem oil spray to help control fleas on felines as it is safe to use.

The Effectiveness of Neem Oil Mixture for Diseases

neem oil in a plastic bottle

While neem oil properly removes insects, it also has bacterial and fungal properties to fight fungal diseases. In addition, you can use neem oil on garden pests and prevent viral infections on your plants.

Yet, it does not cure diseases but can limit increases to reduce further spread. Using neem oil for fungi prevents spore germination preventing the spores from penetrating the leaf tissues.

For indoor and outdoor plants, neem oil works effectively for treating powdery mildew. In addition, clarified hydrophobic neem oil can prevent highly contagious fire blight found on fruit trees.

So, neem oil can help prevent the spread of diseases that insects carry.

When to Use Neem Oil on Plants?

plant pest

The fantastic thing about pure neem oil is it is an excellent preventative method and pest control for any existing infestation. In addition, you can use neem oil during the evening and morning hours.

We do not recommend using neem oil sprays during the day. The reason is that the neem oil combined with direct sunlight can result in burnt leaves. Instead, you can use a DIY neem oil spray throughout the growing season to remove pests in every stage of their lifecycle.

While we already mentioned some insect control on the main insects, it also helps control pests like:

  • Japanese beetles

  • Thrips

  • Leafhoppers

  • Nematodes

  • Fungus gnats

  • Black spot

  • Leaf spot and anthracnose

Another great thing about this natural pesticide is that it is safe for the beneficial insects you find in your gardens, like pollinators, earthworms, and ladybugs.

How to Use Neem Oil on Plants?

applying neem oil on plants

Checking the label is essential no matter what neem oil products you use. Another important thing is to wear protective eyewear to prevent the risk of making contact with the eyes.

If you use cold-pressed neem oil, you need to mix the application in a spray bottle. We recommend combining a drop of two with a bit of liquid to test on your plant. The best is to add an insecticidal soap with neem oil.

The reason is that the soap works as an emulsifier to help the oil work effectively. Another notable thing is that the neem oils’ effectiveness breaks down over eight hours. So we recommend not making more than you need.

For indoor plants, we recommend moving your plants outdoors away from children or your pets. You can spray a small area to see if the mixture does not burn your plant leaves. Then leave it on for 24 hours to determine the outcome.

If the spray does not cause discoloration, then you can formulate more to spray your entire plant. You can then mist the plant leaves at the top and bottom with this natural pesticide. The best is to avoid drenching your plant and only give it a light mist.

It also helps to follow up the use of the neem oil within ten days as applying it is a lengthy process, and reapplication is needed. You can use pure neem oil on fruit and vegetables to combat a fungal disease.

Alternatively, you can spray your trees in the blooming season or use neem oil every two weeks until the bud breaks. We recommend then holding off until the flowers drop. Another helpful way to prevent beetle larvae is to soak the soil with neem oil.

You can do this as with your other applications when mixing for a spray bottle, but the difference is that you will pour it around the base of the plant about two to three cups. It also helps to reapply it every three weeks until you notice insects leaving the area.

Still, if your plant is already stressed, it is not recommended to apply neem oil even if it is organic, and the same applies to soil soaks or spraying the neem oil.

Neem Oil is Not Only for Organic Gardeners

applying neem oil on houseplants

While neem oil is a natural pesticide used for centuries, the fantastic thing is you can find it in other products as well. You see the oil in cosmetics, dog shampoo, toothpaste, and soap as the oil is non-toxic. So, it is not only used in the garden as it kills pests.

A fact is that people from India have used the neem leaf to strengthen the immune system. In addition, it helps detoxify the blood, improves liver function, and maintains a healthy body. Another fantastic thing is it has no harmful effects. So, in short, it has loads of benefits.

  1. Neem oil is safe to use around your pets and wildlife as it is biodegradable and degrades fast in the rainfall.

  2. Neither does neem oil create death zones around your treated plants as it only targets chewing and leaf-sucking insects.

  3. Furthermore, it is also a preventative measure to keep mosquitos away. While the oil-based sprays like the insecticide you cannot apply directly to your skin, you can use pure neem oil.

  4. You can also find it in different formulas like dust, wettable powders, granules, and emulsified concentrations.

  5. Another benefit is that insects do not become resistant to neem oil uses, and it does not pollute water.

DIY Neem Oil Spray and Tips for Handling the Concentrate

concentrated neem oil

The best neem oil is a pure one to make an organic insecticide for your plants. For making a one-quart neem oil spray, you need the following:

  • 100% Cold Pressed Neem Oil one teaspoon

  • Castile soap, about 0.25 teaspoon

  • One-quarter warm water with measuring spoons or a dropper

You will need four teaspoons of neem oil, one teaspoon of liquid dish soap, and one-gallon warm water for a Gallon spray. Then, you must fill your spray bottle with warm water or a garden sprayer.

Next, add the liquid soap and stir it together. Now, add your neem oil to your mixture and give it a good shake until it combines.

Tips to Handle Your Neem Oil Products

neem soap

The important thing is to handle neem oil as you would with any other commercial product. It is crucial to avoid getting the spray into your eyes and also watch the weather. If you notice a rain forecast, it is best to leave it for another day.

Always keep the bottle of neem oil spray secure when combined as it will break down, and best to only mix the portion you want to use. You can store your neem oil application in a dry environment away from kids and pets.

Only a few drops are needed to make an insecticidal soap and can go a long way.

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