Five Ways to Use Neem Oil on Plants

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.

How to use Neem Oil to get rid of plant pests | Dossier Blog

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.

Pilea peperomioides indoor plant | Dossier Blog

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 eco neem oil to get rid of pests and shine leaves | Dossier Blog

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.

Pilea plant - using neem oil | Dossier Blog

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!

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26 Comments. Leave new

  • Thanks for writing this amazing post about the benefits of neem as it does not only helps in many diseases to cure but also works great in gardening. Neem is one plant with many benefits. You describe its benefits very well. Thanks again for this post.

  • Thanks for an interesting read.

  • My hibiscus and vinkas have an outbreak of mealybugs. I’ve already done one spray treatment with neem oil. How often can I spray them again? I still see the bugs moving around two days later. Also, should I turn off my sprinkler system for a couple days?

    • Hi Rudy, generally a second application is a good idea 5-7 days after the first. If your plants are outside then things like rain or sprinklers will wash off the residue, making it easier for the bugs to return and the treatments less effective. All the best!

  • Does neem oil diluted in water “expire”? I read on a different site that it only lasts for about 8 hours and then becomes much less effective. Is that correct?

  • My roses are always attacked by japanese beetles in July. This year I made a spray of Neem oil and sprayed the rose buds especially at night when the beneficial insects are at rest. I also drowned the dormant beetles, collected them at dusk and dunked them in soapy water with Neem oil. The beetles have left my roses and the rest of my garden alone! They stayed at and decimated my neighbor’s flowers. So I also told her to do the same.
    Now I wonder if anyone has tried Neem oil in their lawn to get rid of grubs?
    Your reply would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  • Hi.
    Is it possible to use a soft brush to “paint-on” Neem oil (diluted per instructions for spray application). I have several outdoor plants I want to treat and I could be more precise with the treatment using a brush instead of lifting up branches at odd angles to spray the undersides.

    FYI, Poppies (Papaver somniferum) does NOT like neem oil (diluted). The leaves turn brown and die. 🙁

    Thank you.

  • Just learn that Neem oil can use for Fungus gnats. Last summer, we found fungus gnats in some parts of our garden. It was a big job to clean it. We tried some pesticide and cost more than our budget. In your experience, How fast neem oil clean fungus gnats?

  • Karen Johnston
    January 19, 2021 3:40 am

    Do you have any suggestions on treating Tradescantia with neem oil? I know they don’t like wet leaves so I was worried about spraying them with the oil and making my problem worse. They seem to have some sort of leaf fungus so I read that neem oil may help.

    • I think most solutions for leaf fungus would involve spraying the leaves so I don’t think there’s a way to get around that part! I’d try removing most of the badly damaged leaves first and then spray. I’d say that treating the fungus would be a priority and the plant would be better off for it! Fingers crossed for you 🙂

      • Karen Johnston
        January 19, 2021 12:00 pm

        Thank you so much! That’s what I was thinking but was hoping there was something I didn’t know. 😂 Thanks again!

        • I’ve been having issues with thrips on my tradescantias and because trads don’t like their leaves to get wet I spray just the soil and avoid as much of the leaves as possible and then I dust the leaves using a very soft makeup brush with diatomaceous earth.

  • What dilution do you use when using neem for leaf shine? I have the same brand as the one in your pictures. Thanks!

  • Hi Emily…just doing my research on Neem oil for the gnats im occasionally seeing in the house. I got rid of one prayer lily plant b/c they flew out when I shook it. Trying to make sure they didn’t latch on to Fiona my FLF in spite!!🤭 I’ll treat with a diluted spray with a drop of dish detergent 2xa week to be sure. She’s indoors now..but will she benefit to an open window now and then weather permitting? I’m in NY. See you on IG. You’re awesome!

  • I used neem oil to get rid of gnats with a soil drench and I noticed after the soil dried out it the top started to have a layer of whitish yellow mold. I thought it was the soil for the one plant but more then one turned out like this.
    It seems that it got rid of the gnats though which is positive.
    Anyone else had this issue?

  • For systematic treatment, what “solution” do you recommend?
    I have a lovely lemon tree in a large wine barrel size pot, that continues to suffer from leaf miners and aphids, causing ants to farm them.
    I had made a solution of soapy water and a few teaspoons of neem oil which I’ve been spraying topically but now that I’ve read your blog post, realize I’ve caused sunburn on many previously healthy leaves.
    I can’t seem to find what amount of neem I should add to the soil while watering and how often?
    I’ve waited a few years for some lemons off this little tree (5’ tall now) but these pests are ruining the experience!

    • Hey Lorraine, it may depend on the strength of the Neem Oil you are using, and there should be instructions on the bottle for systemic use dilution rates. Generally it’s about 5mL (1 teaspoon) per litre. But it’s always best to use the instructions on the packaging if they are there! I would double check you are using pure Neem Oil, as some come already diluted which may not be suitable for systemic use. 🙂

      • Beth Borchers
        October 8, 2021 10:42 pm

        I have neem oil approved for human applications so no instructions for plants. It is pure neem oil. Is there any thing else I need to know other than your recommended dilution four watering?

  • Michelle Gray
    August 18, 2020 11:59 am

    I just found you after looking for help on how to strengthen my FLF and wow, I learned so much. I have one that is about 5 years old that I brought from another state and is thriving height wise and a new one that I put outside that all of a sudden has taken of, and now I know why. The slight breeze is doing wonders, the leaves are close and now I want to take my 7′ one outside as well. Just for a few weeks though. Thank you so much, I plan to follow you on my other plants as well.

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