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How to Use Neem Leaf as a Natural Pesticide

Mary is an organic coconut farmer. In her articles, she shares ideas on land management and how to increase the profit from a small farm.

Neem leaves can be used as a natural pesticide, oil, or detergent. Find out how below!

Neem leaves can be used as a natural pesticide, oil, or detergent. Find out how below!

Neem Trees (Azadirachta indica)

I'm an organic coconut farmer living in Brazil. Here on our farm, we use a natural pesticide made from the leaves of the neem trees that we have growing here. Today, I would like to show you how we do this.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), it is an evergreen tree that is found in tropical and sub-tropical areas. The neem tree has many uses including medicinal, culinary, and as we use it on our farm, as a deterrent to pests. It's related to the curry tree but where a curry leaf tree is called a sweet neem, this neem is considered bitter. The tree grows rapidly about 10 feet a year and the seeds are encased in a skin that is surrounded by a juice.

Some of the birds we have here will suck the juice out of the berry and others swallow it whole. The monkeys love them as well and can often be seen sitting in the trees eating them. The bats take the berry and fly off with it causing young neem trees to be scattered around bases of many of our trees here and on my veranda. The juice that surrounds the seed, is okay for the animals but I have tried it and it is rather bitter and unpleasant.

These trees are a common sight in Brazilian city centers for their mosquito repellent properties and because they are a fast-growing tree. The dark green serrated leaves are also attractive and are excellent as a dense shade tree. They are also resistant to drought, in fact, too much water will damage the roots and cause the leaves to turn yellow.

Cutting Neem Leaves for Pesticide

Cutting Neem Leaves for Pesticide

Using Neem Leaves as a Pesticide

We have 400 dwarf coconut trees that we spray with our neem pesticide. Don't get too hung up on the term pesticide, it isn't killing the bugs, it is preventing them from chewing the leaves of our trees. If the insects are solely reliant on eating coconut palm leaves then they will eventually starve, or at least on our farm. Unlike a commercial product that kills the insect on contact, this doesn't occur when using this neem mixture. We are coating the plant leaf with a substance the insects don't like. Instead of killing the insect, we are protecting the plant.

We use this natural pesticide to guard against:

  • aphids
  • whitefly
  • grasshoppers
  • caterpillars

These are the main insect problems that we deal with on our farm. Although we spray regularly, our trees are also checked daily so we can stop an infestation before it happens.

I want to clarify that this article is about using the neem leaf.

For a more concentrated version of the pesticide, the neem oil can be extracted from the seed. This is done by grinding down the dried seeds into a powder using a grinder or a mortar and pestle. This powder can then be reconstituted with oil. If you don't have access to neem trees or you prefer to purchase neem oil, this is produced from the seeds, not the leaves.

The neem oil, although more effective than using the neem leaves, is less pungent to smell.

** Update**

As I am writing this in the middle of December 2019, our neighbors, both upwind and downwind, are suffering from an infestation of whitefly on their cashew trees. We have 3 large mature cashew trees here on our farm and although they haven't been sprayed with the neem solution due to their size, we don't have any whitefly. My husband believes it will be in our best interest to spray our upwind neighbor's trees and also near our fence. This will make an unpleasant barrier for the whitefly and hopefully confine them to a smaller area.

Removing neem leaves from stalks

Removing neem leaves from stalks

Removing the Leaves

Once cut, we bring the small cluster of branches back to our patio area. This next part, of removing the leaves from the stems is time-consuming and also hurts the back. It isn't that it is difficult to do, it is just repetitive and we have yet to find an easier way to do it.

We simply sit down and drag our hand down the stem allowing the leaves to drop into the bucket. We continue doing this until our bucket is full and then it's time for the next step which takes place in the kitchen.

Cuttning neem leaves with a food processor

Cuttning neem leaves with a food processor

Chopping up Neem Leaves

To chop up the neem leaves, I use my food processor. I fill the container without packing them too tightly. As I put the leaves in, I ensure there are no stems or seeds which may damage the blades of the food processor.

I then switch the machine to pulse until I see movement at the top, only then do I turn it on high. If I switch it on high from the start, I'd end up with finely chopped leaves at the bottom of the processor and uncut leaves on the top. What you want are leaves roughly the same size.

This could be roughly chopped using a cutting board and a knife if you don't have a food processor or blender. Just to clarify, I'm not adding any liquid to this, I am just chopping up the leaves.

Making Neem Tea

Don't be put off by the term, tea in the title. This is just the stewing of leaves in water. We don't use warm water for this just our normal well water from our faucet.

The bucket of chopped up leaves is put into a 50-liter plastic barrel. We fill this half full of water, put the lid on and leave it for 3 days to brew.

You'll know if your mixture is ready as it will smell like a cross between urine and onions. Not a pleasant smell but effective against insects. Because of the smell, you may want to make the mixture away from the house.

Adding Oil and Detergent

Using another barrel, we strain the mixture which has brewed for 3 days, through a nylon mesh sieve. An old t-shirt works equally as well. This removes the leaves and we are left with the mixture that will be sprayed on the trees. We need to remove anything that may clog our sprayer and a sieve or a t-shirt works well.

To make sure the pesticide sticks to the plants and doesn't just run off, we need to add oil and dish soap. For this, we use 3 ounces of cooking oil and the same of dish soap. The role of the dish soap is to break down the oil, and the role of the oil is to make it stick to the leaves.

The stewed leaves from your mixture can be used in your compost heap or around the base of your plants.

Here I am spraying one of our 400 trees.

Here I am spraying one of our 400 trees.

Using a Sprayer

As you can see from our photos, we use a backpack style sprayer. This carries 10 liters which is a little more than 2½ gallons. You may be able to handle a larger one but my husband is 69 years old, and an amputee. Walking from tree to tree with the sprayer on his back keeps the oil and detergent mixing because of the movement. If you were using a hand held spray bottle, a quick shake before applying is a good idea as the mixture may separate.

Ours is a hand-pressurized mechanism which works off a lever on the left-hand side of the sprayer. We have extended the nozzle length on ours to ensure he can reach the upper leaves of the coconut trees without having to use a ladder which would be too cumbersome to take from tree to tree.

Spraying Coconut Trees With Neem

Spraying Coconut Trees With Neem

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Once made, how long will neem leaf pesticide keep without going stale?

Answer: We use ours straight away. Any that you don't use should be poured away.

Question: What ratio of chopped leaves in kilos to that of water in liters should I use to create the pesticide?

Answer: We never weighed the leaves, but a full yellow bucket as you see in the photo, once chopped, resulted in a 50-liter container being one-third full of leaves. Then we filled the 50-liter container with water.

Question: Can neem repellent be used on edible leafy plants, like spinach? My worry is the bitter residue taste may remain and make them unpallateble.

Answer: I haven't tried it specifically for the reason you mention. When I see the residue on our coconut leaves I'm certain it will affect the taste. What I would suggest is that you used leaves, around the bases of the plants. These could be composted down but will still be beneficial without causing a change in the taste of plants such as spinach and lettuces.

The residue I am seeing is that iridescent look of the oil in the mixture. However, because the plants aren't being eaten by insects, I can assume, the residual bitter taste from the neem mixture is working.

Question: What dish soap can I use as a natural pesticide?

Answer: We use any liquid dish soap that I am currently using in the kitchen, to wash dishes. It doesn't have to be a specific brand. It is only used to break up the oil, and virtually all dish soaps will do this.

Question: When you say dish soap, that is just normal dish washing detergent you use for doing the dishes by hand without a machine? Seems to be a difference between hand dish washing soap and machine dish washing soap. Or is it something else?

Answer: Yes just normal dish soap that you would use to wash dishes by hand in your kitchen sink.

If you're in the States something like Dawn dish soap. If you're in the UK, Fairy liquid. I realize many people use dishwashers now so it can be confusing.

Question: Can I use this neem spray for all types of plants such as indoor and outdoor plants? Or should it be poured only to a particular plant?

Answer: I would be hesitant to put this on a delicate plant or one that has fine hairs on the leaves such as African violets. Another thing to consider is the smell, which is similar to a combination of onions and urine.

I have never tried it on delicate plants but perhaps other readers can answer your question.

Another thing I'd like to mention, we are currently testing the addition of hot chilies in our mixture to see if it improves the deterrent factor.

Question: Can I use dried neem leaves to make a natural pesticide?

Answer: Yes, by putting them in water to use as a spray or around the plant to decompose.

Question: Can the Neem Leaf work against the coconut beetle?

Answer: No, unfortunately, it won't. The only time the coconut beetle may come into contact with the sprayed leaves is if it has gone through the new leaves on the crown. We don't normally spray this area, only the leaves themselves. Also, this will not kill insects it merely makes the leaves unpleasant for them to chew. It's a deterrent to pests such as white fly and grasshoppers.

What you can do to discourage beetles is to keep the area clean of rotting trunks, and other vegetation. Also if you are going to lose a tree because of an infestation, cut it down and burn it. Don't allow it to decompose.

If you find the grubs, feed them to the chickens, use them as fish bait, or burn them. In Vietnam, they are consumed by people, although a ban is in place.

Question: Can ground neem leaf be used as fertilizer?

Answer: It most definitely can. Here on our farm, we always tip the leaves straight under a coconut tree or add the leaves to a composting area.

Question: How long can neem oil be stored?

Answer: In this article we are not using neem oil, only a neem tea from the leaves. The oil comes from grind the seeds. If you are purchasing neem oil, the package will have instructions for the best practices for storing it.

For our mixture of neem tea, we use the contents after it has had time to brew for a few days. Any that is left over, we discard. Because we have neem trees growing here on our farm, it is a renewable source.

Question: Is neem pesticide safe for pets?

Answer: Yes, you can use neem powder around the house and around your pets to keep insects at bay.

Question: I blanched and then dried neem leaf to add to the food of my dogs. Can I use the tea without the oil and detergent to spray on plants to also combat mold?

Answer: The reason for the oil is it helps the neem tea stick to the leaves. Without it, it will just run off into the soil. The detergent breaks the oil down, so it mixes in the water.

I'm not sure how effective it will be against mold. All I can suggest is to try it and see.

Question: How is the neem leaf spray effective?

Answer: The insects don't like the taste of the residue left behind. Using the oil and soap mixture helps it stick to the leaves of the plant. This creates a nasty taste and discourages the insect from eating the leaves that have been sprayed.

Question: Can neem be used on people as a pesticide?

Answer: Yes it can. People use it for pimples and as a face wash. They also use it on the hair. I have never attempted this and would recommend you research its safety before using it.

Question: Can I use neem leaf on a bush sitao plant?

Answer: I haven't tried it, but I can't see a problem in doing so. One word of caution, I wouldn't use it near the time of harvest. Neem is bitter, and you don't want any residue leaving behind a nasty taste.

Question: Do you know if anyone has tried this neem leaf solution for deterring grasshoppers?

Answer: Yes, we have. We get all sizes of grasshoppers here and they can be destructive! We have one in particular that few of the birds will eat. It grows to about 4 inches. I know of only two birds, one a type of cuckoo, and the other is the smooth billed Ani. We also have seen monkeys eating these grasshoppers.

Do put the neem spray on as it leaves a residue that insects, including the grasshoppers, don't like. For smaller grasshoppers, birds including chickens, geese, guinea fowl, and ducks can be added to help control the number of grasshoppers.

Question: Can I use this neem tea to help grow seeds of ornamental and flowering plants?

Answer: I haven't tried it but I would say no. To give your seeds the best chance of survival, they need to be grown in a well thought out compost mixture. Neem spray would be too harsh for tender seedlings.

© 2017 Mary Wickison

Comments

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on September 06, 2020:

Hi Sunil,

Thanks for your question. Here on my farm, I don't have those mites so I can't answer that.

You can try the mixture I suggest and if you see no change, by all means, try it with the neem seed oil.

The mixture I suggest can also used as a preventive measure so the insects don't attack the tree and weaken it. Vigilance is key.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on August 04, 2020:

There are no hard and fast rules. I suggest putting it in a mixing bowl and covering it with water. Put a plate on the bowl and then in a few days it should smell pungent. It's a good idea to put this outside to avoid the smell in the house.

Fiona Nichols on August 04, 2020:

Hi there. I've chopped up my neem. Would like to make only a small quantity. What quantity of water would a cupful of neem 'tea' need please?

Arpita Das on April 26, 2020:

Penned down so good. Was an elaborate explanation where no more neem leaves will go in vain

Joseph Bening Nkansah on April 08, 2020:

I am a Ghanaian and an orange and mango farmer. The pests destroy about 80 percent of the fruit. So I am going to practice this neem method and give you feed back.

Thanks

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 20, 2020:

Yes. Under the sub-heading 'making neem tea', I discussed our procedure for adding water and the stewing of the leaves.

I don't add water when I have them in the food processor.

Thanks for the question.

Lorraine Sam on March 19, 2020:

Do you add water in after chopping the neem leaves?

moppet gonzales on November 22, 2018:

Thank you so much for this article. I am so glad I found it and will try to use the neem as you recommended in the soil beds for our lettuce.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on September 22, 2018:

You're right, they don't like too much water. We had a lot of rain and all the leaves went yellow. Much of our land is just above the water table so it was necessary to get them as high as possible. They send out a tap root and it doesn't like being wet.

I hope you get some more planted and can start benefiting from them, once again.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 21, 2018:

We used to have neem trees in our property and we burn the leaves to drive mosquitoes. But one day, there was a great flood in our area and we lost the trees. I hope to have some again and use them as insecticide following your instructions.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on September 08, 2018:

We weren't selective. We just cut a branch and strip the leaves off. In the second photo you can see how we removed all of the leaves.

Then they all get chopped up in a food processor, but you could use a blender as well.

Although more labor intensive, they could also be pounded with a mortar and pestle into a pulp.

Alexandra Kallie V. Uy on September 08, 2018:

What to use for pesticide? Young Neem Leaves or Adult Leaves?

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on August 02, 2018:

Thanks for the update, Patrick. Although we don't have a problem with aphids, it's good to know that neem is beneficial in preventing them.

Patrick Ngowi on July 25, 2018:

Thanks Mary for the feedback. Last week I applied the mixture to my spinach garden but without adding the oil. After three days we harvested some, and when eaten, no trace of the neem tree was felt - while the solution repelled the aphids completely! Good experiment.

Manuel Edwin Meneses on July 24, 2018:

Can i use a used cooking oil to mix with the neem tea?

Mia on July 18, 2018:

We have made our mixture using 100g of neem leaves and 1 liter of water... How much cooking oil and dish soap would we need?

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 01, 2018:

Here on our coconut farm, we use this as a preventive spray. If we see a problem, we spray the affected tree and any that are near it or downwind from it.

It isn't going to harm your trees, but it won't kill the insects. This just makes the coconut trees, less appealing and then the insects don't stay. We spray as needed. This year, we have had little damage, even though our neighbors have had a problem with whitefly.

Sunil DSouza on May 31, 2018:

Is this solution can be used for controlling Aceria guerreronis & eriophyid mite coconut mites? How many times in a year we have to spray?

Sunil DSouza on May 30, 2018:

Is this neem leaves spray is best for preventing Aceria guerreronis & eriophyid coconut mites or we have to use neem seed oil?

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on May 23, 2018:

Hi Jon,

I would say yes, do try it even at a lower concentration. The runoff, I was referring to wasn't from rain, it was from not having oil which makes it stick to the leaves.

I hope you have success with it.

Jon Jones on May 17, 2018:

Thanks for the quick reply. I don't think it running off would be an issue for me. I live in a pretty dry area so the likelyhood of rain washing it away are low.

The trees are too big and with too many leaves to even consider manual removal.

My main question is, even if my concentrate is purely made of water and likely of lower intensity than your method, would it still have chance to do any good?

Jon Jones on May 17, 2018:

Thanks for the quick reply. I don't think it running off would be an issue for me. I live in a pretty dry area so the likelyhood of rain washing it away are low.

The trees are too big and with too many leaves to even consider manual removal.

My main question is, even if my concentrate is purely made of water and likely of lower intensity than your method, would it still have chance to do any good?

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on May 17, 2018:

Hi Jon,

The oil helps it stick to the leaves. The soap breaks up the oil. Without the oil, it probably will just run off.

If you're concerned, don't use it until they are more established. Just watch daily for pest and remove by hand. For some insects, you can pick them off and others you may opt for a cloth to wipe the leaves. Be careful of cross-contamination. You don't want to take insects or a fungus from one plant to another on that cloth.

Jon Jones on May 17, 2018:

I merely gathered some green leaves and boiled them for 40 minutes until the water turned into a swampy dark green.

Would this be enough? I have plenty of Neem trees around so I can just make more.

I am afraid the additional oil and soap could harm newly transplanted trees.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 19, 2018:

Hi Zoi,

Yes, you can. Not only will you be getting the nutrient as the leaves decompose, you will also be getting some of the repellent properties of the neem tree.

Here on our coconut farm, we are using the neem tea to spray on the leaves and when we rake the neem leaves up, I am not putting these around the bases of the coconut trees and covering them with palm leaves so everything begins to rot in situ. I have read that coconut palms, will absorb systemically the repellent of decomposing neem leaves. Some people compress them into what they call a 'neem cake' but I just include it with other rakings from the garden.

I would say, mulch away!

Zoi Samson on March 19, 2018:

Hi Mary, I have a small container garden. Next to my house is a neem tree so at this moment there are huge piles of fallen neem leaves. I was just wondering whether I could use the fallen dried leaves as mulch. Thanks.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 10, 2018:

Hi Gregory,

Yes, the chopping up the leaves is to speed things up. Much as the same for compost, smaller pieces break down faster.

Regarding keeping the leaves. My tendency would be to dry them first, then put them in sealed bags or even freeze them. Without drying them you may end up with them rotting.

Regarding question 3, I have looked all over that bucket and it doesn't say the capacity of it, merely the weight of what it contained when new.

Your calculations sound fine, but if your plants are delicate, I would start with a weak solution. We use ours on our coconut trees, but the leaves and pods are thick and robust.

I can see no reason not to use the branches. In fact, there are people who sell them as chewing sticks (dental) because of their antiseptic properties.

Also, you can use both the leaves and small branches as a mulch around your plants. I have read that as it breaks down the plants will absorb many of the repellent properties working as a systemic pest protection. This, however, I can't confirm the results, unlike the spray which we have seen a reduction in insect damage to plants.

Thanks for your questions and good luck.

gregory-k on March 05, 2018:

Thank you, Mary, for the post and your responses. I have a few questions. I did check most comments, but if I missed the answer I apologize.

1. Just before the steeping, you put the leaves through a food processor. Is this to speed up the steeping or do the leaves have to be ravaged to get a good tea? I am in no hurry. Could I put the leaves in a bag and stomp on them and then let them steep for a week or two?

2. I do not need that much tea.(For now. If I do this right, I will share the tea with neighbors.) Could I put the freshly picked -but not bruised- leaves in sealed bags for any extended time?

3. Is the ratio of leaves to water that important for the tea? I assume the yellow bucket has a 5 gallon capacity and the chopped up leaves give you about 3 gallons. So is that about 3 gallons of leaves to 7 gallons of water? In my case I was thinking about filling a 5 gallon bucket with 1.5 gallons of leaves and 3 gallons of water. For every gallon of prepared tea I would add 0.5 ounces of cooking oil and soap.

4. What about steeping the branch? The branches I have access to are not that thick. Could I cut them into 3 or 4 inch pieces and let them steep for months? I live in a city, but I want to minimize waste.

Appreciative of your time and consideration.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 04, 2018:

Thanks for the suggestion. I will mention this to my husband for our next batch.

I can see boiling the mixture will speed up the process, we leave ours out in sun for 3 days.

Thanks for your comment.

Brisbane on March 04, 2018:

Suggest you try baby oil in place of cooking oil.

Have used neem in our plant nursery for about 30 years, works wonders when blended with lime liquid detergent and baby oil, leaves boiled in water for 30 minutes then left to cool overnight covered, then strained blended and bottled, unused portions should be kept in a cool dry dark place.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on February 16, 2018:

Hi Rajkumar,

I'm not sure if you're asking a question about UV light when using the neem tree solution.

If so, it's an interesting question as all of these things, UV, amount of hours of sunlight, rain, watering schedule, soil conditions etc can affect a plant's growth rate.

When people speak of UV they often only think of it in relation to using sunblock on their skin and not the effect on plants.

Where I live in Northeastern Brazil, our UV can be in the extreme category at number 11. I haven't noticed any negative effects on our trees due to the UV and the use of our neem solution.

In fact, we are seeing fewer insects which eat our leaves. Both upwind and downwind from us the cashew trees are covered in whitefly, and we have very little.

We are also seeing a reduction in a type of large grasshopper we have here.

If you have the opportunity to use neem leaf as a natural protection for your plants, do it.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on February 09, 2018:

Hi John,

Yes, what you're probably seeing is an iridescent residue from the oil. The oil is the agent which holds the neem liquid on the leaf.

Remember the neem is a deterrent for insects, it doesn't kill them, it just makes the plant less desirable for them.

Hope that helps.

John on February 08, 2018:

Hey has Neem solution ever left any residue on your plants before?

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on February 06, 2018:

Thank you, Dushyant,

I hope that you will be able to use the information to make your own natural pesticide spray.

Dushyant on February 06, 2018:

Very interesting

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on February 03, 2018:

You're welcome. I hope you have found the article interesting. In both of our locations, Brazil and the Philippines I imagine we have similar climates and likewise similar pests.

Roger - SHS teacher from the Philippines on February 02, 2018:

Salamat Po!! (THANK YOU)

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on January 20, 2018:

I haven't tried drying the leaves and preserving them but I can't see why that wouldn't work. The only problem might occur that the small particles may clog your sprayer. I can't imagine that it could be so fine to pass through a spray nozzle.

The powder could also be used to put around the base of the plants as I have read that it will be absorbed by the plant and 'may' develop and inbuilt insect protection. Much as is suggested when people eat garlic to keep insects away.

Regarding using the neem oil in place of cooking oil. I see no reason not to if you have a source of it. Grinding down the seeds would be labour intensive, but of course, you can buy it. Cooking oil is just an inexpensive option.

I am unsure about the benefits with regards to insects which target cotton. I know that with many GMO strains of cotton, this has allowed a rise of secondary types of insects. I would try it and see how you get on. We are seeing a reduction of whitefly, and grasshoppers on our trees although in our area, others are having a bad season for them.

Let me know how you get on.

Abbas Muhammad on January 20, 2018:

Hello Mary.

Thanks for sharing wonderful information on neem leaves. I want to discuss a idea with you about the said topic.

If we get dry the neem leaves in sunlight or in the room without sunlight. Then grand the dried leaves to make it a thin dry powder and store it for future use. Can the water solution of this leaves powder be used in spraying against insect pest?

Further what if we use the neem oil with this powder instead of cocking oil?. What you suggest if we use this neem solution against cotton insect pest? I would love to hear from you.

Regards

Abbas, from Pakistan.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on December 17, 2017:

Hi Mekonnen,

It's an interesting question because we have those fleas here in Brazil. Here it is called bicho de pe which translates as foot bug.

I can't say whether neem leaf spray would offer protection or not since the Tunga penetrans lives in the upper layer of sand waiting for a host. Both our dogs and ourselves have had these in our feet. I rarely go barefoot because of them.

We have used the neem spray on our trees to keep insects at bay but I can see no reason for not spraying the ground around a living area with the neem mixture.

We normally dig them out of our feet and also the dogs' paws. Then we use a disinfectant like Betadine on the open sore. The larva which is removed can be placed in isopropyl alcohol to kill it.

Let me know if using the spray works on the fleas.

Thanks for your question.

mekonnen on December 17, 2017:

what is its importance on gigger flea

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on December 16, 2017:

Hi Andrea,

By leaving the leaves soaking for three days there should be no problem.

We check our trees daily when we water, so we can nip any infestation before it starts.

As a preventative measure, I would say once a month. This should be done when you know you will have a few days of dry weather to give it the best chance to stick to the leaves.

andpewmac@gmail.com on December 16, 2017:

Hi Mary

Thanks for the article on neem leaves. I have some dried leaves . How can I make the spray from this and how often do I need to spray?

I would love to hear from you

Andrea

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on November 27, 2017:

Hi Sourav,

My answer would be, I'm not sure. Did you add any oil to the mixture, that helps the mixture adhere to the plant. Dish soap is added to break down the oil so you can get a homogenous mixture. Aphids, because of the sticky residue they make, may make the mixture difficult to stick onto the plant.

The neem is more of a repellent, to keep the insect from staying there in the first place. In essence, it is making the plant unattractive to the insect. When we have white fly we will scrape off as much as possible or even cut off the leaf and burn it. Then the rest of the plant will get sprayed.

I was unfamiliar with the plant you mentioned but it sounds like it is toxic so I'm surprised you have an infestation.

I hope by using the neem solution with oil and soap, any future problems will be averted.

Thanks for your question.

SOURAV KARMAKAR on November 26, 2017:

There was a infestation of aphids in one of my calotropis plant. I boiled some neem leaves till i got a dark brown tea,kept it for one day,......strained the leaves ,stirred the mix and sprayed it on the leaves and soil. Will it help?

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on November 21, 2017:

Hi Kate,

I haven't tried adding peppermint soap but I can see that adding it could only be beneficial. The soap can also help to break up the oil in the water (in lieu of the dish soap). I know that peppermint is supposed to a good as a repellent for many insects.

Planting mint (in pots) can also help to keep them at bay.

Regarding using it on your kids. The neem solution we use mentioned in this article, is too strong, to be used on humans. Although neem is used in many insect repellents, it is a small amount.

Good luck with your garden.

Kate on November 20, 2017:

I wanted to stop in and say thank you. I live in hawaii and had a recent infestation of aphids (my first time growing a garden) and knew of neem but didn't know what to do!

Turns out I had some on my 2.5 acre farm! I just finished up the process today and am very excited.

Question, some sites suggest using a peppermint soap like dr bronners. Have you ever put peppermint in your mix?

I put some in mine (mainly for smell) because I plan to use it as repellant for my (4) kids.

Again, thank you for posting this. Much appreciated.

Aloha

KatesCommunity

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on September 30, 2017:

Hello, S Seshadri,

You're right, in the combat of insects inside and outside the home, neem can play an important role.

Thank you for your idea about the neem oil and camphor. It can be quite a savings to use natural and inexpensive products such as neem and camphor. Commerical products can be pricey.

Thanks for reading and your great idea.

S Seshadri on September 29, 2017:

Mary, Loved your article on neem leaf pesticide and answers to questions on it.

Just to share, neem oil with a few small camphor pellets is used to repel mosquitos in homes. It is just filled into the repellent containers of commercial mosquito repelling gadgets ( 'Good Night' or 'All out') popular in India. The idea is just to utilise the available, factory made evoparising gadget. Camphor also contributes to the pleasant fragrance.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on September 22, 2017:

Hi Wynetta,

Although I have tried the seed I haven't eaten the leaf . We also have a curry tree which is a sweet neem, that I have consumed.

You are right, it is a gift of Mother Nature. All too often we look for products to buy to solve problems when often the solution is growing near us.

Thank you for sharing your story of how you use the neem leaves and fruit.

Wynetta on September 21, 2017:

I love my Neem tree. I have eaten the leaf. Apparently really good for parasite's. Very bitter and totally awful but as you consume it more the taste isn't as bad. I do really enjoy the fruit. I just suck on it and spit the skin and seed out. A true gift from mother nature. I have just pulled out my tea and googled for advice and found your site. You have reassured me in what I am doing. Thank you. central Queensland Australia. :)

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on September 14, 2017:

Hello Parmeshwar,

I have never grown fenugreek but I am pleased it works for you. Thanks for letting the other readers know, which plants it is suitable for.

This week we had a neighbor come over and ask about our neem leaf mixture as they had white fly on their cashew trees. It seems to have done the trick on cashew trees as well.

Thanks for reading and your comment.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on August 15, 2017:

Hi Jennifer,

Here in Brazil, the neem tree is planted not just as a shade tree but as a natural repellent for mosquitos both privately and by the city councils.

Many homeowners will make a mixture which I've described above, and use a hand held spray bottle, spraying around the outside perimeter of their house. Obviously, they make less of it than we do.

I wouldn't spray it on the dogs, however, as I have never tried that, and I don't know if it would be an irritant.

Our dogs are often rolling in the neem leaves which fall to the ground, as well as my citronella plant. Perhaps this is their way of coating themselves in a natural repellant.

I do know that the citronella will cause a reaction as I have seen it on myself when I have been thinning out our plant. I had a mild reaction of contact dermatitis from it. It was a reminder to me that just because it is in its natural form doesn't mean it's safe as many plants are quite potent.

Both neem and citronella are used in many commercially prepared mosquito repellants. If you have access to a neem tree, I would suggest you try it in the garden and around the outside of the house.

Thanks for reading and your question.

jennifer on August 14, 2017:

hi mary

is this formula safe for dogs and garden for mosquitos i came across your article while searching for natural remedies for mosquitos

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on July 14, 2017:

Hello Ayikobua,

I'll answer your second question first. The neem seeds hold more oil and are thus more potent than the neem leaf tea mixture. We don't have a mechanized way to crush the seeds effectively here on our farm so opt for the easier method of using the leaves.

On our farm, we walk around the trees frequently. When we are irrigating, we are checking each tree daily. This means we can control any infestation before it starts. We don't have a set routine for spraying, we spray when we see a problem. Normally our method is, where possible we wipe palm leaf removing what we can see. Then we get the spray ready (remember it takes 3 days to brew), then we spray the tree and those around it.

We feel the best way to keep harmful insects at bay is by observation and removal of the insect. If we see an excessive amount of white fly, for example, my husband has been known to cut the leaf off and submerge it in the lake. The insects are either drowned or eaten by fish.

Something else which I didn't mention in my article, neem leaf can also work as a systemic repellent. It isn't something we have done yet, but plan to. By placing the leaves around the bases of plants and trees and allowing them to decompose, their repellent properties are taken up by the tree. Many people mulch them up to speed up the process, they call it a neem cake.

I hope this has answered your questions and I hope you try the neem leaves as a natural repellent for your plants. Thanks for reading.

Ayikobua Peace on July 14, 2017:

Thanks a lot for the article. You have made it very easy. Any practical experiences on frequency of spray, dosage and which works better between the leaves and seed of the neem plant?

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 27, 2017:

Hi Ripplebuzz,

We use fresh neem leaves and leave them to soak in a large plastic covered barrel.

Although we didn't heat the water, it gets quite warm and then we leave it for 3 days to brew.

Here at our home we don't have plumbed hot water so when I want to wash clothes in something other than cold, I put a large tub of water outside in the sun and use that.

The temperature of the water inside the barrels of neem leaves will also become quite hot helping them to extract the repellent properties into the water.

Thanks for your question.

ripplebuzz on June 27, 2017:

Hi Mary,

Did you use fresh neem leaves and heat the leaves with any vegetable oil or did you just soaked or infused the fresh neem leaves?

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 01, 2017:

Hi Linda,

It is an interesting tree which we feel we have only begun to learn the potential of.

Since we live in Brazil, we read a lot of information from India and the Philippines as they have a similar climate to us and have had years of researching various natural uses of plants.

Thanks for reading.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 31, 2017:

This is a very useful and interesting article. I've heard of neem before but didn't know much about it. I enjoyed learning about how you and your husband use it.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on May 23, 2017:

Hi Niki,

Sorry, I really don't know. If the powder is made from the seeds it will be more potent than if it is made from the leaves. You don't say whether you are hoping to use this medicinally or as an insecticide. I would refer you to the friend who gave it to you. What quantities does he/she use?

Something else I would like to mention, just because it is natural, doesn't mean any quantity is safe. Many plants are toxic.

Let me know how you get on. Thank you for your question.

Niki on May 23, 2017:

Love your article! I too live on a small organic farm (13 acres in Zambia, to be exact!) I have used neem oil both medicinally and as a pesticide in the past. Recently a friend gave me a jar of neem powder which he made on his farm. I want to try it out, but am not sure how much to use! Any thoughts?! Thanks so much! x

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on May 09, 2017:

It appears they do grow in parts of Florida. I will say they don't like to be in standing water. They put a tap root down which can go deep, more than the height of the tree. We are very close to our water table here and although I didn't lose any neems (although, they did go yellow and lose a lot of leaves), I lost a curry tree (sweet neem) due to the roots being underwater for maybe a month.

They are such an attractive tree, I hope you can find it. There is a place called Neem Tree Farm in Brandon, FL. I know nothing about them other than their details on the internet. Your local nursery might even have them.

People here trim them into almost a solid shelter of foliage which is ideal as shade but is so thick it will kill the grass underneath. Other than all the seeds they drop, I can't think of a bad thing about the neem tree. We have them growing close to the house for shade but the birds and the monkeys love the juice from the olive-sized casing which surrounds the seed.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 09, 2017:

I love organic, sustainable solutions to pest problems, Mary. I had no idea just how sustainable Neem trees are. Ten feet of growth per year! Wow! I wonder if Neem trees grow in Central Florida. I'll have to look into it.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 26, 2017:

Hello Chitrangada,

The neem tree has so many uses, and until I moved to Brazil, was unaware of it.

I need to explore more of its medicinal properties. We often look on Indian websites for natural ways of using the plants we have growing on our farm.

Thanks for reading and your suggestion.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 25, 2017:

Neem is an amazing tree with multiple benefits. You have described the process in easy to understand manner. I am sure it will help many readers.

Besides that Neem is also used for medicinal purposes in Ayurveda. And nothing like an antiseptic head bath with neem leaves boiled water.

Thanks for sharing this useful information!

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 11, 2017:

Hi Dora,

It is an amazing tree and from what I read, does grow in the Caribbean. This mixture is easy to make and I'm certain your neighbours will be able to benefit from using it as we have.

Thanks for reading.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 10, 2017:

Thanks for this information on the neem leaf and its uses as pesticide. Until now, I had only heard of neem tea. I will recommend this article to my Caribbean neighbors.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 08, 2017:

Hi Marlene,

You're right it is a beautiful and useful tree. Although native to India, it is now found in many countries.

In India, it is used in ayurvedic medicines although here in Brazil, it's used mainly for shade, and its insect repellent properties.

Thanks for reading.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on April 07, 2017:

I am a big fan of organic pesticides. I have never heard of the Neem tree, but it is a beautiful tree. I wish I could grow it here. Lots of uses for this tree. Thank you for explaining the many ways to use it effectively.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 07, 2017:

Hi Jennifer,

Glad you liked it. I hope that you will be able to apply this information to your own garden or farm.

JenniferSilv on April 07, 2017:

Awesome!!! Thanks for the info.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 07, 2017:

I'm glad you found it interesting. Our trees are doing well, we are now in our wet season and they are going through a growth spurt.

I'm a firm believer in Mother Nature wanting a healthy balance and provides the answers to many problems.

Thanks for reading.

chspublish from Ireland on April 06, 2017:

I really enjoyed this hub as I love finding out how growers deal with insect problems organically. You have explained the process very well in how to use neem tree leaves as a spray. I hope your coconuts are thriving.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 06, 2017:

RTalloni ,

Not sure which area you live it but it may be possible to grow it if you're in the southern States.

I know in India they make a 'neem cake' of compressed neem leaves and use it in their gardens as a fertilizer. I think it also helps with nematodes.

Thanks for your visit today.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 06, 2017:

Hi Bill,

This tree grows like crazy here, in fact, my lawn is covered in small neem trees which have sprouted. It is considered an invasive plant in some countries. You may have seen it used in repellents, shampoos, skin treatments etc.

For us, it is used for the coconut trees and we spray around the house to retard insects.

Great to hear from you.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 06, 2017:

Hi Peg,

That is a shame about your Ash trees. You've touched on something I didn't mention in my article, boring insects.

We have a few different ones which can get into our coconut trees. We lost one to the boring insect and burned the tree to rid us of any possible eggs. That was about 3 years ago.

There is also another type of microscopic insect which burrows under the young coconut, resulting in a dead nut. This is an ongoing problem so we spray as soon as a new flower pod of coconuts open. Coconuts are self-pollinating within the pod so we don't need any helpers which may be carrying a potential problem with them.

If we think of the neem solution as a protective repellent on the tree instead of a pesticide, you can see why it needs to be an ongoing exercise.

I'm pleased you found this interesting, thanks for reading.

RTalloni on April 06, 2017:

Thanks for sharing your method of making a repellent from neem oils. I'll be checking to see if we can get a tree for growing in our area. I would like to mix chopped neem in with mulch.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 06, 2017:

How to use it? I've never heard of it, or the tree. LOL But I love that you believe in organic and it's always nice to learn new things, so thank you for the education.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on April 06, 2017:

This is incredible. You've described the process in such a way that it sounds easy, although, I would imagine time consuming. I love that you made your own solution to the pest problem. I'd heard that Neem oil will deter boring beetles but when I used it, I was too late and the bugs had already destroyed one of the Arizona Ash trees we'd had for many years. Thanks for sharing this interesting method of pest control.