How To Use Neem Oil On Houseplants: A Definitive Guide

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This is the complete guide to How To Use Neem Oil On Houseplants?

Neem oil is considered one of the safest pesticides to use in the garden. It has both contact and systemic action, so it protects tender new growth as well as kills mature insects on contact.

How To Use Neem Oil On Houseplants

What Is Neem Oil?

What Is Neem Oil

Neem oil is an extract of Azadirachta indica, a tree in the mahogany family that’s native to India and Pakistan. 

Neem oil has been used in these countries for centuries as a physical insecticide, repellent, and acaricide (to kill ticks and mites)

MIND BlOWING FACT: It can control more than 100 different insects on contact.

4 Super-Benefits of Using Neem Oil

Besides its insecticidal properties neem is also:

  • Antifungal (killing fungi) – It effectively controls many fungal diseases like: powdery mildew, rusts and leaf spots.
  • An aphid deterrent – Controlling ants helps because they protect aphids from natural predators. This gives you very effective control over aphids, whiteflies and other sucking insects.
  • A general pest deterrent – Plants that are not under attack don’t attract pests in search of food.
  • A repellent – It keeps the bugs away from your plants. It also works as a natural organic pesticide by preventing an insect from chewing or sucking sap from your plant which reduces damage.

Neem oil is safe to use on edibles since it does not have any toxicity for humans and pets.


How To Use Neem Oil On Houseplants?

There are many ways to use neem oil which range from using it in the concentrated form (a little goes a long way) to making neem extract at home.

#1 Neem Oil Spray For Houseplants (POPULAR METHOD)

Neem Oil Spray For Houseplants

Step #1 : Mix 3 ml of organic cold-pressed neem oil with 1 liter of water (or add some drops of this concentrate directly into the tank and dilute with water)

PRO TIP: You can also add 1 teaspoon of soap or dish soap (don’t worry it will not be absorbed by the plants). Soap helps the poison stick better to the plant, making it more effective against pests.

Step #2 : Shake well before every use and spray every 5 days until you fix the problem (don’t worry if you see signs of new infestations after spraying, continue using your solution for another week ).

Spray flowers, leaf buds, and all other parts of the plant.

Always keep in mind that neem oil is safe for pets and humans so you can use it at home without worrying that your kids or pets may get sick from eating leaves sprayed with neem oil.

Neem oil is also organic and 100% natural so it’s perfectly safe to use around your family.

#2 Neem Oil Concentrate For Houseplants (BEST FOR WHITEFLIES)

WHITEFLIES

Neem oil concentrate is another great way to kill houseplant pests because you don’t need to mix anything, just apply 1 ml per liter of water (more than 1 ml/l will not be absorbed by the plant but instead will create a layer on top). 

You can either apply this mixture directly to the leaves (using a bottle with a fine misting nozzle or spraying mechanism), or you can dilute it in water and pour it into the plant’s pot. 

Try to apply it every 7-10 days if possible because some pests like whiteflies lay eggs which will hatch pretty fast.

#3 Neem Granules For Houseplants (ALTERNATE FOR TREATING WHITEFLIES )

NEEM GRANULES For Bugs

If you want to use neem oil against houseplant bugs, then granules are probably not the best choice because they contain less active ingredients than other forms of this pesticide (0.1% azadirachtin). 

But if your main problem is fungus gnats, then all you need is neem oil (not mixed with anything else). 

Sprinkle the neem oil directly on top of the soil surface and water your plant soon after that. 

You can also use neem oil granules to protect your houseplants against whiteflies.

#4 Neem Oil Spray For Soil (BEST FOR FUNGUS GNATS + NOT RECOMMENDED FOR INDOOR PLANTS)

Neem Oil Spray For Soil

This method might not be the best choice for indoor plants because you will need to apply it every week.

It’s definitely effective against fungus gnats, though. 

Mix 1 ml of neem oil with 1 liter of water (or add some drops of this concentrate directly into the tank), shake well before every use, and spray the whole soil surface once a week until you get rid of all pests. 

If you see new infestations in 2-3 weeks, then stop using neem oil immediately!

#5 Mixing it with water (BEST FOR APHIDS + SPIDER MITES + THRIPS + WHITEFLIES)

Neem Oil For  APHIDS, SPIDER MITES

This is one of the most popular methods. 

Step #1 : A proportion of about 1 part of neem oil and 40 parts of water will kill most insects, including aphids, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies. 

Just mix the appropriate amount in a sprayer and apply it on your plant’s leaves avoiding new growth so it won’t hurt your plant.

If you want to protect stems against ants, put some around the base of the stem where they cross or touch another branch or leaf. 

Step #2 : Since neem oil has no soil half-life it is effective. Repeat at least twice a week for one month.


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#6 Dilute it with more water 

Dilute it with more water 

For this method, you need more than 1 part of neem oil to 60 parts of water. 

This helps protect seedlings, young plants, and new growth against whiteflies, aphids, and other pests. 

To apply neem oil in concentrated form measure the appropriate amount of concentrate and mix it in a sprayer with equal amounts of water. 

Then apply on your plant’s leaves avoiding new growth so it won’t hurt your plant or stem if you are protecting them against ants. 

You can also use an atomizer to apply neem oil on houseplants, but make sure to use one with a nozzle because it is more precise.

#7 Using neem oil as a drench – This method works for indoor plants. 

Neem Oil For Indoor Plants

Step #1 : Just mix some neem oil into the water used to water your plant or just spray it root-bound into the soil by mixing 1 part of neem oil and 5 parts of water

Step #2: Since neem oil has no soil half-life you have to repeat at least twice a week for one month. 

Remember that since this method does not protect new growth, your plant must be protected against pests in another way, or else they will come back after a few days.

#8 Making homemade extracts – This is perhaps the easiest way to use neem oil on houseplants

Step #1: All you need is one liter of water, 200 grams of natural soap flakes (not detergents), and 100 ml of pure neem oil. 

The process takes about 30 minutes.

Step #2: Pour the water into a container and add the soap flakes. Mix for a few minutes until they are dissolved or pasteurized. 

Then gently mix in the neem oil until well mixed. 

PRO TIPS: You can also use an immersion blender to do this job, just put it into your mixture and blend for just 20-30 seconds then turn it off. 

Step #3: Let your homemade extract cool before using it as a spray. 

This kind of homemade extract works great against aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, mealybugs, thrips, and other insects. 

It can be used both in the concentrated form (a little goes a long way) or diluted with water.

#9 Using your leftover extract 

keep in mind that this is not 100% neem oil, it has some soap (about 15%), which will break down after a few days. 

But if you mix 1 part of leftover homemade extracts with 5 parts of water you get enough soap to blend it together and make it last for another full week.

When using neem oil by any method, repeat treatment every 3-4 days for one month (or more if needed), then continue at weekly intervals until there are no signs of new insect problems. 

Also, repeat treatment every second week during hot summer months even if you don’t have problems with insects. This will prevent future outbreaks of new pest problems resulting from adults emerging from pupae at this time.

Neem oil works great against mites but not so good against some kinds of scale. Since it has no soil half-life on indoor plants, apply neem oil every week to keep your plants healthy and protect them against pests. 

It is one of the most sustainable ways to avoid pesticides. Now that you know how to properly use neem oil on houseplants, go ahead and give this natural remedy a try today!

Neem oil will help you protect your plants against insects so they can grow big and strong! 

Other Ways Of Using Neem Oil On Houseplants

Neem oil can also be used to treat ailing houseplant soil. Mix 1 ml of neem oil with some water and pour this mixture into the plant’s pot. 

This will make your soil less hospitable for insects, including nematodes.


How does Neem oil work?

How does Neem oil work

Neem oil is made from the fruits and seeds of the Neem tree (Azadirachta indica).

It contains two kinds of chemicals that are very effective against insects: 

azadirachtin – which interferes with insect growth hormones, causing death after repeated exposure. 

limonoids – which are potent insecticidal poisons that paralyze the nervous system.

Can you use Neem oil on any plant?

Neem oil is safe for pets, people, and the environment so you can use it without any worries. 

It is non-toxic to animals, humans, and useful insects such as bees which makes it one of the most sustainable pesticides.

But it can be very toxic to some insect species so always do a test on your plant before using neem oil. 

How To Test Whether It’s Working Or Not?

How To Test Whether It’s Working Or Not
  • Start by applying 3 ml of concentrated formula per liter of water with a fine mist sprayer, once every 5-7 days until you see results. 
  • If no new pest problems appear within these 2 weeks then you got yourself one tough customer (and this treatment should work for about 4 months).
  • If there are signs of new infestations , increase the frequency of application or try another organic pesticide . 

You can use neem oil on any houseplant as long as they are not sensitive to this strong insecticide.

Always keep in mind that neem oil is safe for pets and humans so you can use it at home without worrying that your kids or pets may get sick from eating leaves sprayed with neem oil. 

Neem oil is also organic and 100% natural so it’s perfectly safe to use around your family and does not have any harmful chemicals!

Neem oil can be used as a pesticide or insecticide but also as a fertilizer or soil conditioner (improves the health of your plants and helps them grow). 

It works great against almost all types of insects: whiteflies, aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, ants, thrips, fruit flies, etc. 

You can even use it against some common fungi such as mildew, black spot, and rust (but not against powdery mildew ).

Things You Must Know Before Using!

By most accounts, neem oil works great on houseplants too BUT there are several things you should know before using this strong insecticide:

1. Neem oil is very strong so it may harm your plant if you don’t use it correctly.

2. You can easily overdose your plants with neem which will result in yellowing leaves and leaf drop 

3. It won’t kill all kinds of insects but only those that feed on the sap of your houseplants (so some pests like mealybugs or fungus gnats will be protected inside cocoons).

4. There are many different neem oil products out there, each of them has a slightly different percentage of active ingredients (ranging from 1-100%).

Always buy cold-pressed organic Neem oil that contains at least 40% azadirachtin (it’s better to choose one with 65-75%).

5. Neem oil is very bitter so it may harm your leaf buds and flowers. 

You can try to wash the foliage after spraying with neem but sometimes it’s not possible, especially when using a hose-end sprayer that doesn’t have an adjustable nozzle.

6. It has no soil activity, which means that you will need to reapply it every week until you fix the problem (some pests like spider mites live on your plant for up to six weeks).

7. While neem does work against most houseplant insects, there are certain pest species that are resistant to this strong pesticide (such as scale). 

If you notice a new infestation within 2 months, stop using neem oil immediately!

8. Neem oil as an insecticide or as fertilizer. 

If you want to use neem on houseplants for pest control, then it’s better to go with organic cold-pressed neem oil concentrate (with azadirachtin as the main ingredient). 

9. Make sure you read the label carefully before buying; try not to buy an organic pesticide that is mixed with synthetic chemicals. 

10. You should also keep in mind that some brands offer concentrated neem oil, while others sell ready-to-use organic neem oil sprays.

Neem oil works by causing insects’ digestive systems to break down. It acts slowly, taking up to 2-3 weeks to kill pests like whiteflies or aphids (so the whole life cycle of these bugs will be disrupted). 

Pests treated with this organic pesticide are unable to feed, lay eggs or reproduce; adult insects will die soon after they come in contact with the poison.

11. If your plants do not get enough water or you forget to spray them for a while, then some types of pests may become immune.

12. Neem oil can also control other plant diseases because it has antifungal properties. This natural pesticide works great against powdery mildew, black spot, rust, scab, and other types of fungus.

13. Neem oil spray has a systemic effect. This means that the poison will not only treat your houseplant from pests located on top of the soil surface but also kill insects living deep inside the pot! 

If you want to use this pesticide for fungus gnats, then sprinkle some neem oil granules on top of the soil or mix 1 ml/liter of water and spray it directly onto the leaves.

For mealybugs or spider mites, which tend to hide deep inside thick branches, use a brush with soft bristles (or toothbrushes) soaked in undiluted cold-pressed neem oil concentrate. 

Dip cotton swabs into neem oil as well and squeeze them slightly to get rid of excess fluid.

14. Do not worry if you see some dying beneficial insects too, like ladybugs or green lacewings. They are much more sensitive to neem oil than plant pests. 

But always spray your houseplants in the evening, when beneficial insects will be less active.

Remember that this natural pesticide can cause damage to young seedlings or very old plants with roots decaying from old age (which may bring pathogens into the soil). 

If you have either type of plant, then it’s better to use other forms of organic pesticides – like insecticidal soap for instance.

Where do you use it on plants?

Where do you use it on plants

Neem oil can be used on the soil, leaves, or even fruits, so you don’t have to limit yourself.

For example, those who are suffering from whiteflies or aphids might find it easier to spray a neem oil solution onto the leaves of their plants. 

This will keep insects away and stop them from laying eggs on your plants, but make sure you do not hit the plant with this soap too often because it can burn its tender tissues.

If you want to repel fungus gnats that spend their larval stage in the soil of your indoor plants, then use neem oil granules. 

Make sure you shake these granules well before using them, as they tend to clump up during storage.

This pesticide can also be used on fruits, like oranges, lemons, or grapefruits. 

  • Just mix 1 ml of neem oil with one liter of water and pour the solution into a small spray bottle. 
  • You will need to shake the bottle every time before spraying it on plants (to make sure you get rid of any sediment forming at the bottom).

When do you need to apply for it?

Neem oil is a plant protective pesticide, so you can use it any time during the growing season  (both indoors and outdoors).

Control Whiteflies, Aphids, or Mites = Spray In The Morning

If you are trying to control whiteflies, aphids, or mites, then try spraying your houseplants with neem oil solution in the morning, as these pests are more active at this time. 

Control Fungus Gnats = Evening Time

If fungus gnats are your problem, then apply neem oil spray around evening time when adults come out of the soil to lay eggs on the soil surface.

Control Fruit Trees = once every 2-3 weeks until July

For fruit trees, apply neem oil once every 2-3 weeks until July (in the northern hemisphere) . 

This natural pesticide can also be used against Colorado potato beetles (to protect potatoes), mosquitoes (for fishing), and many other insects and pests (for your pets and farm animals).

Why is it better than other options?

Neem oil is a natural pesticide, so it’s friendlier to the environment than chemical pesticides.

In addition, this plant protection product can be used on nearly every type of plant. 

Neem oil also works great against many types of fungus and molds, which makes it a very versatile solution for both indoor and outdoor plants.


FAQ

Is neem oil poisonous?

Neem oil is not poisonous to people.  

However, the refined neem oil concentrate must never be swallowed or inhaled, as it can cause nausea and respiratory problems. 

The same goes for pure undiluted neem oil – always use gloves when handling this substance!

Is neem oil organic?

Yes, neem oil is considered an organic pesticide. You can find more information about how it’s made here.

Where can I buy neem oil?

You can easily order pure cold-pressed neem oil on Amazon. 

However, this pesticide is so versatile that you might want to try several forms of it before settling for just one product. 

If you are looking for a spray or even granules, then you can get this plant protection product on Amazon too.

How does neem oil affect pests?

Neem oil contains Azadirachtin, which is a natural pesticide that disrupts the development of insect pests. 

It prevents their eggs from hatching or larvae from growing into adults.

Azadirachtin has been used as an organic pesticide for decades now, but scientists are still working to discover exactly how it kills insects.
One thing’s for sure though – this natural plant protection product doesn’t kill adult insects!

If you use neem oil on your indoor plants every so often, then you shouldn’t have any trouble with whiteflies, aphids, or other sap-sucking bugs.

How can I make sure neem oil is safe for my plant?

The best way to make sure your plant is safe when using neem oil is to test it on a few leaves before spraying the whole plant.

Do this by placing a few leaves in a cup and pouring some neem oil there (make sure you use pure cold-pressed neem oil, not the refined one). 

The leaves should be fully submerged, but it’s fine if they’re not. 

If after 24 hours or so nothing bad happens to these leaves, then you can safely spray the rest of your plant with this natural pesticide.

Does neem oil smell bad?

Neem oil doesn’t have a strong scent, but some people claim it does have an unpleasant odor. 

If you are not used to working with organic pesticides, then the smell of neem oil might be overwhelming for you.

How do you make any neem oil mixture?

There are several ways to make your neem oil mixture. You can follow some of these tips or just mix the two ingredients together in a spray bottle and that’s it.

For example, you could put neem oil into a small dish and then pour water on top of it (leave some space between the mixture and the edge of the container). 

Then heat this solution up with something like a hot plate or stove, so that you evaporate most of the water. 

What’s left is pure cold-pressed neem oil concentrate, which can be diluted further before you use it as a plant protection product against insects.

This type of organic pesticide needs to be reapplied after about 7-10 days, depending on how bad your infestation is.

Is neem oil safe for outdoor plants?

Yes, pure neem oil is very effective against insects that prey on outdoor plants. 

The diluted version of this organic pesticide can be used as a spray, which you apply to your garden, trees, and other types of greenery outside. 

Neem oil also helps prevent fungus from growing on the leaves of your outdoor plants, so it’s a win-win situation!

How do you apply neem oil to your plants?

There are several ways to apply neem oil to your plants.

You can add it directly to the soil or add diluted neem oil on top of your plant’s leaves.

The latter is known as a foliar application since it’s done by spraying the leaves with a mixture of water and pure cold-pressed neem oil concentrate. 

You need about 20 ml (or 2 tablespoons) of some liquid soap for every liter (or one quart) of water you dilute this solution with. 

Once you mix up all these ingredients in a spray bottle, shake it well, and start applying this organic pesticide on top of your houseplant’s leaves.

The trick here is to make sure no direct sunlight hits the leaves when you are spraying them – this can cause leaf damage. 

Also keep your plant away from any heat source in the house, since neem oil loses its potency when it touches anything hot.

For example, never place a potted plant right next to the radiator or heater in your home! By doing so you could accidentally burn (or severely dry out) some of its leaves.

Instead, make sure there’s at least half an inch of space between the surface of the soil and whichever object is giving off heat. 

You can also spray diluted neem oil on top of your plants every few days, instead of applying it all at once. 

Just keep spraying until you notice fewer insects attacking them – this usually takes about three weeks.

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