Neem oil is an incredibly useful product to have on hand if you’re a gardener, plant enthusiast or even if you’re just starting to get into plants. It’s mainly used when it comes treating a range of pests, so if you’re struggling with pesky bugs on your plants, read on!
In this post I’m sharing a five helpful ways you can use neem oil on plants, as it really is a versatile product! Apart from it’s uses, some other reasons why neem oil is so handy are:
- It’s an eco-friendly and natural product, which means you’re not using harsh chemicals around your home or inside your home, especially if you’re using it for indoor plants.
- A little goes a long way. Most applications will involve diluting 2-3mLs per litre of water (or about half a teaspoon to 4 cups), which means you can use the one bottle again and again!
- It’s quite safe to use on most plants without the risk of damage or overdosing, and generally safe around pets and children.
- The one product can treat so many different pests and problems! Whenever I find a new pest, the first thing I do is check if it can be treated with neem.
- Neem oil can be used systemically (more info on what that means below), so that it won’t harm beneficial bugs – only the ones that chew on your plants.
Using a concentrated neem oil is best for the below pest treatments. Always check the directions on the container before applying neem oil or using it for the below methods.
Use Neem Oil to get Rid of Spider Mites
Spider mites are a common pest, especially for certain indoor plants. What makes spider mites so difficult to deal with is that they are soo tiny! This means it can sometimes take a serious outbreak before they are noticed, they can spread easily and can some can easily be missed during treatment.
Fortunately, I’ve found neem oil to be quite effective when it comes to treating spider mites! I always like to hose down my plants to physically remove as many of the mites as possible. Then, liberally spray the plant with a diluted neem oil solution. Repeat treatment in 4-5 days to ensure any remaining hatchlings are treated.
For an in-depth, step by step method to getting rid of spider mites, read this post on How to Treat Spider Mites on a Fiddle Leaf Fig.
Use Neem Oil as a Systemic Treatment for Chewing & Sucking Insects
Similar to the above, neem oil can help treat a range of chewing & sucking insects such as mites, aphids, caterpillars, citrus leafminer and more.
A systemic treatment is one that gets applied when watering. The neem oil solution is then absorbed by the plant through the root system and taken up through the leaves. This means when any chewing or sucking insects try to feed on the leaves of your plant, they will ingest the insecticide and die.
The pro’s of this is that your plant is not affected by the neem! It will also ensure that the whole plant is protected, and rather than using a spray, the solution can’t be washed off the plant if it rains, for example.
Use Neem Oil to Treat Mealybugs
Mealy bugs are a type of fluffy, white sucking insect that can sometimes appear out of nowhere. Because of their size they can be easier to spot than a pest like spider mites.
This means if you happen to notice one or two mealybugs gathering on your plants, you can nip the issue in the bud with neem oil. Simply dip a cotton tip in neem and dab it onto any mealybugs. This will kill the mealybugs on contact.
If you are dealing with a larger infestation of mealybugs, you’ll need to make a neem oil solution to spray your plant or use the neem as a systemic solution (as above) to combat them.
Use Neem Oil as a Soil Drench for Fungus Gnats
Ahh… the dreaded fungus gnat!! These tiny, fly-like pests like to lay their eggs in the damp soil of indoor plants, where the larvae can sometimes feed on the roots of your plant.
Fungus gnats can be tricky to get rid of because of their lifecycle as both a flying insect and larvae in soil. It’s also best to make sure you treat all plants at once.
I like to use neem oil as a soil drench in combination with yellow sticky traps that can catch the adult gnats. Watering your plant with a diluted solution of neem oil will help rid the soil of the larvae without harming your plant.
Remember that gnats are attracted to damp soil – so to help combat the issue, only water your plants again when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry.
Use Neem Oil as a Leaf Shine
While I’m not one to generally use products on plants for the sake of shiny leaves, if there were one product I’d use it would be Neem oil. A lot of leaf shine products or household items (coconut oil, banana skins and even milk) can block the leaves’ ability to photosynthesize, and I don’t recommend using these – ever.
However because neem oil is a natural product and can help with the treatment of pests, using a little can help with a natural shine.
The best method it to spray a diluted mixture onto the leaves, and then gently wipe them down. This will help remove any buildup of dust and dirt and help your leaves look shiny and healthy.
Things to Consider When Using Neem Oil
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you are using neem oil for your plants.
The first is that because it is an oil, it can make leaves a little more sensitive to sun and can cause sunburn in extreme cases. I’d recommend not using it if the temperatures are very hot or in the direct heat of the day. Keep an eye on any sun-sensitive plants that get direct sun when using the product.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some pests can reproduce quickly and it’s important to do consistent, repeat treatments to fully eradicate the problem. For example with spider mites, I recommend treating your plant at least three times, every 4-5 days to keep your plants pest-free.
While it doesn’t bother me, neem oil can have a strong smell that some people don’t like. If you’re planning on spraying indoor plants, you may want to take them outside to spray. The smell should only be present until the solution dries.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, there’s a range of other pests & treatments that neem oil can help with. If you’re faced with an infestation of some sort, just check the packaging to see if neem oil will be suitable!
Because of it’s versatility, neem oil is a great treatment to have on hand so that as soon as an issue pops up, you can instantly provide your plants with a solution. Grab a bottle of organic Neem Oil here and thank me later!
Have you used neem oil? Let me know in the comments below how you’ve used it and what pests it’s been effective for!