Neem oil is an effective and natural way to kill bugs on houseplants, or battle tough insect pests out in the garden. Below you will find tons of information about it, learn how to use it for insect control, and I’ll also show you how to make your own spray for plants using my neem oil insecticide recipe.
Dealing with destructive insects 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!
It’s also a major struggle for most gardeners outside in the garden. Large infestations can be so overwhelming that some people feel like giving up on gardening all together.
Natural 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 tree seeds, and is either sold in its pure form, or mixed with other ingredients to make pesticide sprays.
How Does Neem Oil Work?
A common misconception is that neem oil is a type of poison. It is not a poison, but rather has a chemical effect on the insects 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. It also works to smother the pests, which kills them faster.
In addition to killing them, neem oil repels them, and it has a slight residual effect to keep them away longer than other organic methods.
Neem Oil Uses For Plants
Neem oil won’t kill all of the bugs on contact, so it might take a few days, weeks, or even months for them to disappear from the plant.
The best part is that it only kills the ones that eat plants, so it won’t harm beneficial insects! This is huge, especially if you plan to spray it on plants that are outside, or you want to use it in your garden.
Just be careful when you use it outside to make sure that you don’t spray it 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 infestations 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 also keeps them bug free for the long run!
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What Kind Of Bugs Does Neem Oil Kill?
Neem oil works to kill all types of houseplant pests, and I’ve successfully used it to help rid my indoor plants of bugs like…
In addition to killing these annoying critters, neem oil can be used outside in the garden to help control destructive caterpillars, beetles, worms, and any other plant-eating insect.
My Neem Oil Success Story
Using neem oil on my houseplants was a total game changer for me! Indoor gardening is one of my favorite winter hobbies. But I’ve spent enough of my time dealing with bugs, and I was tired of all the fuss.
So, I finally purchased some organic neem oil to use against these pesky critters. There’s no way I’m using chemical pesticides, so the fact that this is a natural, organic product is awesome.
A few years ago, we decided to try growing a pepper plant hydroponically. I’ve tried overwintering them in the house before, and I found that no amount of cleaning 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 plant has been aphid-free since we started using neem oil on it.
Since it worked so great to get rid of the aphids, 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 these plants, woohoo! Now it is my go-to bug spray.
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 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 it won’t harm the leaves.
To test it, douse a leaf or two, then let 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, should be used with care. Always follow the instructions on the label, and take care not inhale or swallow it, or spray it directly on any beneficial insects.
How To Use Neem Oil On Houseplants
Below I will go into much more detail, and give you tons of tips for using it. But I wanted to give you a quick overview of the steps here to get you started.
- Mix the 1 1/2 teaspoons neem oil concentrate, with 1 teaspoon mild liquid soap, and 1 liter tepid water.
- Put all of the ingredients into a spray bottle, and shake it up well.
- Test it on a leaf or two before using it on the whole plant, to make sure there’s no damage.
- Douse the plant with your neem oil spray, getting both the top and bottom of the leaves, and every nook and cranny.
- Keep the plant out of direct sunlight until the leaves are dry.
- Continue to use it every few weeks until you no longer see any signs of the bugs.
Tips For Applying Neem Oil
Once you see bugs on your plants, it’s important to begin treatment right away. Spray the entire plant with neem oil insecticide, taking care to get under all of the leaves, and thoroughly wet every nook and cranny you can.
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 douse 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 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 mild liquid soap per 1 liter of water).
It 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.
Related Post: Fungus Gnats vs Fruit Flies: What’s The Difference?
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 control methods. This residual effect also helps with pest prevention!
Like I mentioned above, it 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 them 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 infestations that always end up coming back, you can apply it every few weeks until you no longer see any bugs. Then spray it every month as a 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 concentrate for plants (which is what I do).
Check the label to be sure there aren’t any special directions for mixing. Here’s my recipe for the type of neem oil 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 spray.
Mix all of the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake well. You can use your DIY 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 garden pest control products are sold, or order it online.
But be sure to always check the label before purchasing. Just because it says “neem oil” doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain other harmful chemicals.
Buying the 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 that’s in the spray, and many times a DIY mix will be much more potent than a pre-made one.
I buy an organic 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 it 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. It’s by far one of the best natural 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!
If you’re struggling to keep bugs off your houseplants, then my Houseplant Pest Control eBook is for you! It will show you how to identify which one is infesting your plant, and show you exactly how to get rid of it FOR GOOD! Download your copy today!
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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.