How to Use Neem Oil in Your Garden

When I read about organic gardening, I see a lot of references to neem oil. What is it, and how do I use it in my garden? -Sherry

Neem oil is made from the seeds of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), which is native to India. Since ancient times, the neem tree has been prized as a sacred remedy and important ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine. In the garden, neem oil boasts a powerful insecticidal ingredient, azadirachtin, which makes it a great organic choice for controlling a variety of problems.

Uses for Neem Oil

Neem oil can be used to treat a number of garden ailments, including:

  • Insects: Neem oil kills or repels many harmful insects and mites, including aphids, whiteflies, snails, nematodes, mealybugs, cabbage worms, gnats, moths, cockroaches, flies, termites, mosquitoes, and scale. It kills some bugs outright, attacks the larvae of others, and repels plant munchers with its bitter taste.
  • Fungus: Neem oil is also effective in preventing fungal diseases such as black spot, anthracnose, rust, and mildew.
  • Disease: As if that wasn’t enough, neem oil also battles viruses that can harm plants.

Advantages of Neem Oil

Neem oil is a popular choice in organic gardens because it is:

  • Nontoxic: As long as it isn’t sprayed directly on them, neem oil is nontoxic to beneficial garden insects such as predatory wasps, honeybees, earthworms, ants, spiders, ladybugs, and adult butterflies. Neem oil is considered nontoxic to humans, birds, and other animals as well (see below) and can be used on fruits, vegetables, and flowering plants.
  • Organic: Neem oil is plant based and easily available from organically grown neem trees.
  • Biodegradable: Neem oil breaks down quickly and leaves no lasting residue.

How To Apply Neem Oil

Neem oil concentrate is usually mixed with water and sprayed on both sides of plant leaves. Because oil and water tend to separate, you’ll need to keep your solution well stirred. You can also mix it with insecticidal soap for a double whammy. Neem oil is bottled in different concentrations, so follow the instructions on the package to get the right proportions of oil to water.

Other Uses for Neem Oil

If you’re concerned about the safety of neem oil compared to other products in your garden, consider that neem is often used as an ingredient in:

  • Cosmetics
  • Shampoos (including pet shampoos for flea/tick control)
  • Natural insect repellents
  • Alternative medical remedies for antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory uses

The only health cautions for neem oil relate to actual consumption of the oil, and garden use does not appear to pose any known health hazards. As with any chemical—organic or synthetic—use neem oil only in moderation when needed, and wash all veggies and plants thoroughly before eating.

Julie

50 COMMENTS

  1. Good article about the benefits of neem oil, neem oil is also used in eliminating pests, skin care, it is good option for people who are in the agriculture industry. Contents of azadirachtin must be 3000 ppm for doing organic farming.

  2. I would like to know how to rid of raccoons and moles that are damaging and/or destroying my garden. I do not want to kill them but I need recommendations as to how to chase them away or what product will repel them from tearing up the garden

  3. I got rid of raccoons by trapping them and releasing in a suitable area for them, i.e. by a creek that empties into a river. A gung ho cat will help with rodents of all sorts.

  4. My tomatoes have mildew. I have sprayed them heavily with neem oil-water-dish soap solution. How often such I apply the solution? Should I remove the effected leaves? When?

  5. My flowers and leaves are wilting, turning brown and slimy over night, and seem to be climbing up stalks. Been told its a fungis. Started treating plants by watering with neem oil water mixture and spraying leaves, flowers with neem oil. What do I do?

  6. i have aspen trees that have black spot…I am at 5400 feet in Prescott,az….can i also pour onto to the base of the tree and let it sink into the roots? I understand that the dead leaves transfer the fungus when they fall off in the fall.

    Thanks,
    Jim

  7. My okro have white flies and I don’t know how to use neemoil on it which soap am I to miss it with and how the volume of water will be pleased

  8. My bottle of Southern AG Triple Action Neem Oil is missing the label with directions for use. Please advise. Thanks in advance.

  9. Hi.
    Where can I buy these 100% neem oil for my plant outside.. And how much are they? Do you pot to England UK.. Thank you for your time..

    Bridie

  10. How much detergent to use per gallon of water? I understand you should use 2 tablespoons of neem oil per gallon of warm water.

  11. I have used neem oil with success in the past on my bamboo. I need to spray again this year. We are having a very rain you season so far. I sprayed this morning when all was clear and hot. Then th rains came in 2 hrs later or so. Should I spray again tomorrow when it is dry, if that is possible? Or will the oil soak into the leaves? My one bamboo is bad so I sprayed anyway hoping it will help this morning.

  12. There are some minimal references on the web to using Neem oil on tall palm stalks/spears that don’t open. Anyone have experience with this?
    Which product to buy and how to apply?

  13. I have a bottle of neem oil to use on my rose leaves. The instruction sheet on the back of the bottle was removed. Can someone give me instructions for measuring this product. At the moment all I have is qt spray jar. Thank you.

  14. The instructions say to use 2 tablespoons per 1 gallon of water….
    How much Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap do i add to the above for the “double whammy”?

  15. I am applying Natria Neem oil on my apple trees and apples as a part of organic gardening. Now it is start of September – apple harvesting will be in about 20 days. Is it ok to apply a few more times?

  16. What is the mixing ratio of neem oil with water to use my hibiscus plants.? How many times i have to use..
    Weekly once or not?

  17. Trying to get ahead of flea problem, have a cat rescue. Topical meds to expensive. I do use food grade dioetancacious earth also.

  18. Is neem oil effective on pine and cedar trees? I have some pine tip moths and some brown spot needle blight as well as some pine beetles.

  19. Sounds like a good solution for pesky insects. I will try in mulch area around my rose bushes for those wrotten earwigs!

  20. My squash & zucchini were covered in squash bugs last night. I mixed up 1 oz. Neem oil extract & 1 oz. Dawn in a gal. of water & sprayed directly on bugs & around base of plants. Went out this morning & dead squash bugs were laying all over the place. I didn’t find 1 live one. This is the best recipe yet for killing squash bugs.

    • Hi, Dee,

      We would suggest asking someone in the medical profession about this matter.
      Today’s Homeowner focuses on the home, surrounding structures and the garden.

      Good luck!

  21. I use Neem oil on squash bugs, aphids & spider mites. It gets rid of them. I mix 2 tbl. spoons of gentle clear dawn with 2 tbl. spoons Neem oil in a gallon of water & drench plants. Best natural remedy for insects I have found!!

    • Hi, Betty,
      We have seen great results with 1 teaspoon of neem oil and one quart of water, along with 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish soap.
      Try that and let us know how it works for you!

    • Hi, Linda!
      We don’t recommend eating produce exposed to Neem oil.
      However, as always, check the product’s label for guidance.

  22. I have been using 2 tbs of neem oil per gallon in a sprayer. I would like to add some soap product for extra protection. How much should I add? Thanks

    • Hi, James,
      Results may vary, so we’d recommend two teaspoons of liquid dish soap to start with, and dilute well.
      Then monitor the progress and keep good notes; adjust as needed.
      Let us know how it goes!

  23. I have squash bugs they look a lot like stink bugs all over my tomato plants, can I use the neem oil on my tomatoes and plant . And will the tomatoes be safe to eat when picked.

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