The Amazing Baobab Blog

Neem Oil for Garden, Greenhouse, Growroom and Orchard Pest Control

Posted by David Goldman

Jun 26, 2012 10:13:00 AM


Sorry for the recent radio silence.  Fear not!  I'm back!  A while back, I posted a rather general article on the MANY uses of Neem Oil.  Now that gardening season is in full swing, I'd like to share the seemingly miraculous properties of Neem Oil as a 100% natural weapon against garden insect pests and plant ailments.  I came across a wonderful website called Discoverneem.comneem tree from which I have garnered tons of great information about the many, many uses of Neem (garden, skin care, pet care and much more).  The author, Birgit Bradke, has graciously given me permission to cite her work.


No, you don't just put straight Neem Oil on your plants!  That would tend to suffocate them and burn them in the sun.  Neem contains many natural chemicals that act on insects, and it is potent stuff.  It affects different insects in different ways, such that scientists have not entirely understood which compounds affect which insects.  What they do know is that a very broad spectrum of pests can be controlled using Neem!

A little Neem Oil goes a long way!  Here is a simple recipe for a very effective foliar spray.

  • 1-2 teaspoons Neem Oil
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon natural soap or detergent
  • 1 quart of WARM water

Put 1/2 of the water and the soap in a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, then add the Neem Oil and the rest of the water.  SHAKE WELL!  Neem Oil is naturally hydrophobic, thus the soap is necessary to help keep it emulsified in the solution.  Neem Oil also becomes a waxy solid below about 70 degrees farenheit, so the warm water really helps keep it well blended.  You can mess a little with the proportions to see what works for you.  Spray plants liberally, remembering to hit the undersides of leaves as well, and to keep shaking the bottle as you go.  It is best to apply in the early morning or in the evening to allow the leaves to dry before the sun gets strong.


Neem controls the sucking and chewing insects and mites that can ravage your plants in a variety of ways (see below).  IT DOES NOT HARM BENEFICIAL INSECTS such as ladybugs, honey bees, or our friends the earthworms, as they do not seek to ingest the treated plant material (however, coating them with spray should be avoided).  Some of the insects that Neem Oil helps control are:  aphids, spider mites, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, japanese beetles, whiteflies, fleajapanese beetle beetles and more.  Unfortunately, it does not seem to work very well on slugs and snails.


Bradke offers a nice anecdotal story:

How neem oil deters chewing and sucking insects

There is a nice story that demonstrates how grasshoppers react to neem oil insecticide. It goes something like this:

Someone did an experiment. It involved two jars, two leaves, and two grasshoppers. One leaf was sprayed with a chemical insecticide, and one with neem oil. The two grasshoppersgrasshopper were put in the two jars, with one leaf each.

The first grasshopper ate the leaf and died almost instantly. The grasshopper with the neem oil covered leaf did not touch the leaf and lived. At least for a few days. Eventually it starved to death.

What would you prefer? A poisonous half eaten lettuce, or an organic, untouched lettuce? It's a no brainer, isn't it?

Neem Oil is not palatable to insects, and can stop them before they start feeding.  It also repels mosquitos and flies from the gardener!


Bradke explains it like this:

Neem oil has many complex active ingredients. Rather than being simple poisons, those ingredients are similar to the hormones that insects produce. Insects take up the neem oil ingredients just like natural hormones.

Neem enters the system and blocks the real hormones from working properly. Insects "forget" to eat, to mate, or they stop laying eggs. Some forget that they can fly. If eggs are produced they don't hatch, or the larvae don't moult.

Obviously insects that are too confused to eat or breed will not survive. The population eventually plummets, and they disappear. The cycle is broken.

How precisely it works is difficult for scientists to find out. There are too many different active substances in neem oil, and every insect species reacts differently to neem insecticide.


I use Neem Insecticide on my garden.  I've been treating my tomatoes, peppers and squash to PREVENT infestation, and I've had no problem thusfar.  I had a pretty bad infestation of flea beetles on my turnips, so I sprayed them.  A few days after the first treatment, the beetle population was reduced about 75%.  A few days later when I went back to spray again, they had not gained any ground.  After the second treatment, their presence was negligeable.  Bradke offers numerous testimonials on the website.


Atacora EssentialAtacora Essential logo produces 100% pure, wild crafted, cold pressed Neem Oil in Benin, West Africa.  We source neem seeds directly from small village producers who have never enjoyed good market access for this valuable crop.  Our Fair Partnership  model helps to channel proceeds directly to the households, schools and hospitals where the neem trees grow, furthering sustainable community development.  We've got lots of Baobab Fruit Pulp and Baobab Oil too!


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Topics: sustainable, baobab fruit, africa, neem oil, Atacora, neem, fair trade, bio-insecticide, insect repellent, organic gardening, neem seeds, Neem insecticide

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About the Author

Dave_GoldmanFounder and President, David B. Goldman (B.A., M.A.) served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Benin from 1992-1994. He is a twice certified Permaculture Designer. His graduate studies focused on sustainable development and Africa, earning him an M.A. in Environment and Community from Antioch University Seattle in 2007. A subsequent visit to Benin, specifically to Boukombé, solidified his commitment and capacity to co-create with local participants a novel and community driven strategy for economic and social empowerment. This is Atacora Essential!

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