Neem oil insecticide is an effective and natural way to get rid of bugs on houseplants, or battle tough insect pests out in the garden. Below you will find information about neem, learn how to use neem oil for insect control, and I’ll also show you how to make neem oil spray for plants using my neem oil insecticide recipe.
Dealing with houseplant pests is one of the biggest frustrations indoor gardeners face. Sometimes it seems that no matter how careful we are, our precious houseplants become infested with some bug or another… and it gets very stressful!
Bugs are also a major struggle for most gardeners outside in the garden. It can be so overwhelming that some people feel like giving up on gardening all together.
Plant pest control doesn’t have to be so difficult, you just need the right tools to help in your fight. Let me introduce you to neem oil insecticide, your new best friend!
What’s Neem Oil?
Neem oil is a naturally occurring insecticide that is found in the seeds of the Indian neem tree. The oil is extracted from the neem tree seeds and is either sold in it’s pure form, or mixed with other ingredients to make neem based pesticide sprays.
How Does Neem Oil Insecticide Work?
A common misconception is that neem oil is a type of poison. Neem oil is not a poison, but rather has a chemical effect on the bugs that eat it, which eventually ends up killing them.
Basically, the way it works is that it messes with the brains and hormones of the bugs, so they stop eating and mating, and eventually die off. Neem oil also works to smother the pests, which kills them faster.
In addition to killing plant pests, neem oil repels them, and it has a slight residual effect to keep bugs away longer than other organic pest control methods.
Neem Oil Uses For Plants
Neem oil won’t kill all of the pests on contact, so it might take a few days, weeks or even months for all of the bugs to disappear from the plant.
The best part about neem oil is that it only works to kill the bugs that eat the plants, so it won’t residually kill any beneficial insects! This is huge, especially if you plan to spray neem oil on plants that are outside, or you want to use it in your garden.
Just be careful when you’re spraying it outside to make sure that you don’t spray neem oil directly on any beneficial bugs, because it could still smother them on contact.
It’s also safe to use indoors, and I mainly use neem oil for houseplants since battling bugs can be a common occurrence during the long winter months. It has helped me get rid of all of the houseplant pests I’ve ever dealt with, and helps to keep my indoor plants pest free!
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What Kind Of Bugs Does Neem Oil Kill?
Neem oil works to kill all kinds of pest insects, and I’ve successfully used it to help rid my home of houseplant pests like spider mites, whiteflies, houseplant scale, aphids, fungus gnats and mealybugs.
In addition to killing annoying houseplant pests, neem oil can be used outside in the garden to help control bugs like destructive caterpillars, beetles, worms and any other plant-eating pests.
My Neem Oil Success Story
Using neem oil for organic pest control on my houseplants was a total game changer for me!
I love my houseplants, and indoor gardening is one of my favorite winter hobbies. But I’ve spent enough of my time dealing with houseplant pests, and I’m tired of all the fuss.
A few years ago, we decided to try growing a pepper plant hydroponically. I’ve tried overwintering pepper plants in the house before, and I found that no amount of cleaning them would keep the aphids away.
Pepper plants are serious aphid magnets. Since aphids multiply very quickly, and I didn’t want to spend my winter fighting them again (and risk a repeat of the aphid outbreak I had in 2009, ugh!), I decided to give neem oil a try.
I am happy to report that our pepper plant has been aphid free since we started using neem oil for pest control.
Since using neem oil for aphids worked so great, I tried it on the whiteflies that had plagued my hibiscus and plumeria plants for five years, and it worked like a charm! I haven’t seen a single whitefly since I started using neem oil on my hibiscus and plumeria plants, woohoo! Now neem oil is my go-to natural pest control method.
Neem Oil Insecticide Precautions
If you’ve never used neem oil before, it’s important to note that it has a strong smell to it that many people don’t like. The neem oil smell goes away once it dries, but it can be overpowering if you’re spraying it on a lot of your houseplants at once indoors.
Also, before spraying anything, including neem oil, on any of your plants, always be sure to test it on one or two leaves first to make sure the spray won’t harm the plant.
To test it, douse a leaf or two with the neem spray mix, then leave it sit for at least 24 hours (one week to be safe). If there’s no damage to the treated leaf, then it’s safe to spray the whole plant.
And please remember that all forms of pesticides, even natural ones like neem oil organic pesticide, should be used with care. Always follow the instructions on the label when using neem oil insecticide, and take care not inhale or swallow it, or spray it directly on any beneficial insects.
How To Use Neem Oil Pesticide
Once you see bugs on your plants, it’s important to begin neem oil treatment right away. Spray the entire plant with neem oil insecticide, taking care to spray under all of the leaves, and thoroughly wet every nook and cranny of the plant.
If I’m using it inside, I always bring my houseplants to a sink or bathtub so that I can spray them without worrying about getting neem oil all over the carpet or woodwork.
I’ve never had problems with staining or anything like that, but you want to spray the plant to the point where it’s dripping wet, so it can be messy.
For heavy infestations, I will use insecticidal soap before spraying neem oil on the plants (be sure to spot test this on your plant before treating the whole thing).
I wash the leaves with the insecticidal soap, which kills many of the bugs on contact, then I rinse off as many of them as I can before spraying the plant with neem oil (my recipe for DIY insecticidal soap is 1 tsp of Dr. Bronner’s Baby-mild Liquid Soap per 1 liter of water).
Neem oil insecticide can also be used as a soil drench to kill annoying fungus gnats. When used as a soil drench, it can be absorbed by the plant and work as a systemic pesticide as well.
Neem Oil Insecticide Dosage
Remember that neem oil has a residual effect, so you don’t have to spray the plant every day like you would with other all natural pest control methods. This residual effect also helps with pest prevention!
Like I mentioned above, neem oil won’t kill all of the bugs on the plant instantly, it takes time to get into their system and start messing with their brains and hormones.
You could wait until you see evidence of plant pests before spraying the plant again, because the infestation might go away completely after applying neem oil the first time.
For plants that are plagued by pests that always end up coming back, you can spray your plant every few weeks until you no longer see any bugs, and then spray it every month as a neem oil repellent to keep them from coming back.
How To Make Neem Oil Spray For Plants
You can buy neem oil based pesticides in pre-made sprays, or you can make your own using a pure organic neem oil concentrate for plants (which is what I do).
Check the neem oil concentrate instructions on the bottle to be sure there aren’t any special directions for mixing. Here’s my recipe for the type of neem concentrate that I buy…
My Neem Oil Insecticide Recipe
The soap helps the oil mix with water, since they don’t mix well on their own. Plus the soap has the added benefit of killing the plant pests on contact, so you should see an improvement right away with this DIY neem oil insecticidal soap.
Mix all of the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake well. You can use your DIY neem oil bug spray on your plants right away. Be sure to shake it well each time you use it.
Where To Buy Neem Oil For Plants
You can find neem oil for sale anywhere that pest control products are sold, or order neem oil online. But be sure to always check the label. Just because it says “neem oil insecticide” doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain other harmful chemicals.
Buying neem oil concentrate will probably be more expensive than a pre-mixed spray, but it will last you a very long time! Plus, you control the amount of concentrate that’s in the spray, and many times a DIY organic neem oil spray will be much more potent than a pre-made one.
I buy organic neem oil concentrate online, and if you want to get the same kind as I use, you can buy neem oil here.
Oh, and keep in mind that you can buy neem oil for cosmetic use to, so be sure to specifically search for “neem oil for plants” when shopping online.
If you have never tried using neem oil for indoor plants, I would highly recommend trying it. If you are tired of fighting indoor plant pest infestations, it’s by far one of the best pest control methods I’ve ever used.
Admittedly, I haven’t used it used it out in the garden yet, but plan to give it a try this year. I can’t wait to see if it works against all the nasty bugs that plague my garden plants every summer!
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Have you ever tried using neem oil insecticide on houseplants or in your garden? Share your experiences in the comments below.