Neem oil comes from seeds of the neem tree native to India, Burma, and Sri Lanka. This versatile and organic pest control oil is safe to use on most houseplants. For centuries, it has been used for medicinal properties.
Neem oil is easy to find but a worthy friend of every houseplant owner. It has countless uses in houseplant care because it is non-toxic and biodegradable.
How to Use Neem Oil on Houseplants?
Neem oil is a well-known product for natural pest control methods. It is great to use even during the winter months when most houseplants are weak and vulnerable to pest damage. For small infections, you can use cotton dipped in neem oil. For heavy infections, it is best to prepare a neem oil spray. Dilute 1.5 teaspoons of neem oil and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap in a bucket filled with 1-liter water. You should always perform a small test before spraying a whole plant with neem oil.
Using Neem Oil Insecticide
I have compiled this step by step recipe to help you make your own organic insecticide. You will find neem oil in pure form or mixed with other products. For this recipe, I would recommend using pure neem oil so that you are sure that no harmful chemicals are used.
- Mix 1 liter of lukewarm water in a small container with 1 tsp. of mild liquid soap and add 1.5 tsp. of pure Neem oil. The soap is used to help the oil and water mix.
- Fill a spray bottle with the above mixture. Make sure you shake the bottle well.
- You should test the mixture before spraying it on the whole plant. Neem oil has a long-lasting impact than most other organic materials.
- You should keep your plant away from direct sunlight during treatment (at least until the neem oil dries) for effective results.
- Spray the plant with a water hose to dislodge the pests before spraying neem oil.
- Make sure you apply the neem oil mixture to both sides of the leaves and every corner of your plant.
- Repeat this application every week until you get rid of the pests permanently.
- For indoor plants, it is better to bring the plant to the bathroom or kitchen to avoid spraying the neem oil on the furniture or carpet.
- If your plant is heavily infected, use an insecticidal soap before applying neem oil. Simply wash the foliage with this soap to kill as many pests as possible. The final step is to rinse the dead bugs from the plant.
- If you are reusing an old neem oil mixture, shake the bottle to mix all the ingredients.
- You can also use cotton to apply neem oil. Dip the cotton ball in neem oil and dab it on the infected foliage.
Facts About Neem Oil as an Insecticide
- Neem oil cannot kill the pests on the first contact. It can take weeks or months to completely get rid of them depending on the population, pest type, and frequency of application.
- You should not perform the neem oil treatment in high temperatures or very sunny days because it leaves the foliage sensitive to heat and sun.
- The frequency of application will depend on the type of pest you are treating because some pests multiply quicker than others.
- Neem oil is safe to use in outdoor gardens because it will not kill beneficial insects. It only kills the pesky pests that eat the plant. But avoid spraying it directly on beneficial insects. You might suffocate them.
- If you apply the right dosage, there will be no oil residue on the leaves. If you notice oil on the foliage, you might be using it more than needed. Wipe the leaves and use less next time.
- You can treat any variety of houseplant pests, including mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies. It kills common indoor garden bugs and the tough insects in your outdoor garden by hindering their feeding abilities.
- You can buy neem oil from an online store or your local garden nursery. But always check the label before using/purchasing to make sure it has no chemicals.
- Neem oil is also famous for its anti-fungal properties. You can use it to control powdery mildew, fungus, and black spot.
- Please note that neem oil has a strong scent, which can be an issue for some people. But this smells fades away once the neem oil mixture dries.
Other Uses of Neem Oil for Houseplants
It is often sold as a leaf shine or leaf polish because of the glossy look it gives to the leaves. Spray and wipe the leaves with a clean cloth for a shiny finish. This will also remove any buildup dust or dirt from the leaves.
Avoid using synthetic leaf shines because they might contain chemicals or other harmful products. Household products like coconut oil or banana skin can clog the leaves, reducing photosynthesis.
Neem oil also has repellent properties. It can not only kill the pests, but a regular application can keep them away from your houseplants. But make sure you never spray your plant with neem oil on a daily basis as a repellent; it should be used once a month only.
You can use neem oil as a soil drench to kill fungus gnats in the soil. In the soil drench method, the neem oil is absorbed by the plant via the roots and eventually stops bug growth.
Three Reasons Why You Should Use Neem Oil
- This eco-friendly product has no harsh chemicals that might be harmful to you or your indoor plants.
- It is economical because a small quantity of neem oil is enough for about 1 liter of water.
- It can fight almost any pest or fungus, with few exceptions. You can even treat the tiniest pest like spider mites.
Frequently Asked Questions about Neem Oil for Houseplants
Is neem oil poisonous?
Neem oil is not a poison. It simply has a chemical effect on the insect and bugs that consume it, which eventually kills them.
How does neem oil affect pests?
Azadirachtin is an active ingredient in neem oil; it disturbs the hormones in the pests affecting the appetite and growth of the pests, making it hard for them to multiply. Neem oil also suffocates the pests to kill them.
How can I make sure neem oil is safe for my plant?
Although neem oil is safe for most houseplants, you can test a small area on the leaves to make sure your plant is not sensitive to this product. Wait for at least 24 hours to notice any side effects on the foliage.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.