Is Neem Oil Safe for Plants?

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There is nothing more frustrating than working so hard on your garden, encouraging your plants to grow, and then having it destroyed by pests. Gardeners the world over have always been plagued by pests and have sought out all sorts of methods to protect their plants.

If you are one of these gardeners, you probably have done some research on what to use on the pests in your garden. One option you might have come across is called Neem oil. But is Neem oil safe for your plants?

Neem oil is safe to use on plants. It is a natural insecticide that has been used on plants for over 400 years. This derivative of the neem tree, is an organic insecticide used to kill and repel certain insects and fungal diseases on plants, all while being safe for the plant and for humans and other animals.

At a time where people are looking towards more organic and natural insecticides and herbicides, neem oil is an easily accessible option.

If you are looking for a natural insecticide, neem oil might just be for you. There is an excellent selection on Amazon with thousands of customer reviews. 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about neem oil and how you might benefit from using it in your garden.

What Is Neem Oil? 

Neem oil is a derived from the seeds of the neem tree, which are native to Burma, India and Sri Lanka. It is a naturally occurring pesticide and has been used in India in this way for over 400 years.

This pesticide, which often contains the ingredient azadiractin, works by reducing and disrupting hormones related to feeding, growth and egg-laying in insects. It is also a repellant, protecting the plant from insects that have not reached maturity.

Along with this, neem oils that do not contain azadiractin, protect the plant from insects and fungal infections. Fungal infections are reduced because the neem oil prevents germination of the spores and also spore penetration.

Neem oil is used to control the following insects:

  • Caterpillars
  • Aphids
  • Leafminers
  • Whiteflies
  • Thrips
  • Mealybugs
  • Spider mites
  • Scale Crawlers
  • Beetles

What is great about neem oil is that it is virtually non toxic to humans, birds, and other mammals.

Additionally, the good insects you need in your garden like bees and other pollinators are not harmed by neem oil if it is applied at certain times of the day when these insects are not as active, like late evening or early in the morning.

It is slightly toxic to fish and other animals who are aquatic, so care should be used when applied to plants near these animals


Will Neem Oil Hurt My Plants?

Neem oil is an effective, natural insecticide used for over 400 years in India. This insecticide does not do any damage to the plant itself. Nor does it hurt vegetables or humans that consume the plants or vegetables.

This is a natural product used to prevent some insects and fungus from damaging the plant.

Neem oil will break down in about two to five days when it is applied to the plant, meaning regular applications are required and safe to keep pests away.

Proper application practices should be used. Follow instructions on the bottle to ensure you are applying neem oil in the right doses. Too much and the foliage of the plant can burn.

Is Neem Oil Safe To Use On All Plants? 

Because neem oil is a natural insecticide that breaks down after a few days, it is safe to use on any plant in your garden. Whether you decide to apply it to vegetable plants, flowers or herbs, it is safe in the correct dosage.

Read the label of your product to determine exact amounts to mix and apply to your plants.

Neem oil can do some damage if the dosage is too much. Make sure you are using the right amounts. Read the packaging to make sure you are mixing and applying the neem oil in the correct amounts.

It also is a good idea to do a test on your plant before a full application. Do so by applying the neem oil product to a small area of the plant to start. If you don’t notice any issues a full application can be done. Total application is how the pesticide will be the most effective.

Never use neem oil on a plant that is already stressed. This could do more damage to your plant. Also avoid using neem oil on plants that have been recently transplanted.

How Do You Use Neem Oil On Plants? 

Neem oil is used on plants to prevent insects from doing damage, but you might not be sure exactly how you use it. How do you apply it?

Neem oil can be purchased from most garden centers in either a premixed, ready to use spray or cold pressed concentrated version that you will need to mix prior to application.

If you select the neem oil that needs to be mixed, you will also need to purchase a spray bottle or pump sprayer, depending on how much surface area you need to cover.

You will also need some water to dilute the neem oil. Simply follow the directions on the packaging to properly mix your neem oil.

Or you can buy this ready to use Neem oil from Amazon , its very convenient to use.

When you apply the neem oil, be sure you are wearing clothing that covers your body as the oil can irritate the skin and eyes.

If you are unsure if your plant can take a full neem oil treatment, apply a test patch and wait for 24 hours. If you do not see any signs of toxicity, you can safely apply the product to the whole plant.

Spray the entire plant from top to bottom, paying special attention to underneath the leaves. You want to make sure to get the spray under the leaves because this is where a lot of insects deposit their eggs.

Larvae will also be present on the underside of the leaves. Also spray the soil around the plant to help deter insects.

Apply the spray in the early morning or late evening to ensure you do no harm to helpful insects like bees, and other pollinators.

Applying at these times also means you avoid direct sunlight, which is helpful in avoiding foliage burn. This also helps to ensure the treatment is absorbed by the plant rather than instantly evaporating.

How Often Can I Spray Neem Oil On My Plants? 

A single application of neem oil isn’t effective long term. This isn’t a one and done situation. To ensure the pests and fungus stay away from your plant for long periods of time, regular applications are required.

Neem oil can be reapplied every seven to 10 days if you are concerned about fungus and even sooner if being used as an insect repellant.

Be sure to watch for toxicity on your plant. If you notice any issues, it is likely your applications are too close together.

Can You Water Plants With Neem Oil? 

Aside from spraying neem oil directly onto your plants, you can also water your plants with neem oil. An application directly to the soil will help control pests at the ground level.

But neem oil does degrade faster in water, so the application may not be as effective long term. The good news is because neem oil breaks down so quickly, applications will likely not contaminate the soil or any ground water sources.

Unless you are applying the pesticide in improper doses too frequently, you will likely not have any issues with contamination.

How Long Does Neem Oil Last On Plants?

Neem oil doesn’t really last long when applied to plants. In fact it will break down anywhere from about two to five days after application. Some research says it will last up to 22 days, but this is highly dependent on several factors including the weather.

Does Neem Oil Wash Off In Rain?

The length of the effectiveness depends in part on the weather. Rain degrades neem oil when it is applied to the plants. Applications will need to be more frequent if there is a lot of rain in the forecast. Wait until the plants are dry before reapplying the neem oil.  


If you are looking for a natural pesticide, neem oil just might be what you need.

Used for over 400 years, this is an effective pesticide and fungicide, derived from the seeds of the neem tree.  Gardners across the world use this natural pesticide on many plants in the garden to ward off insects that will do a great deal of damage.

It is safe for most plants, as long as it is properly applied in the correct doses. Not only is it safe for your plants, it is safe for you, your pets and most outdoor wildlife.

Because of the benefits of neem oil, it has become a widely used and easy to find pesticide. It is carried in most garden centers and local hardware stores. Check it out and you might just find it is exactly what you need in your garden.