Grabbing fruit directly from the tree in your backyard is one of the best parts of growing fruit trees at home. Gardeners’ biggest challenge is harmful insects that feed on citrus plants and damage developing and mature fruit. Learn how to use neem oil on citrus trees to deal with garden pests.
Pure neem oil is a natural pesticide that is cold-pressed from the seeds of the neem tree. The oil has a long history of combating insect pests and diseases. The main component of a neem oil mixture is azadirachtin, which interferes with the nervous system of insects, affecting an insect’s ability to feed, grow, mate, and lay eggs.
While neem oil is not fatal to all insects, its effects create a noticeable difference in insect activity around your plants. The garlic smell of neem oil also acts as a natural insect repellent. Learn how to mix a neem oil spray for your lemon tree and find various ways to use neem oil to protect your citrus trees.
Tips for Using Neem Oil for Citrus Trees
Effectively using a neem oil mix for citrus trees requires knowing the proper application method and the best times to apply neem oil. Because neem oil is not a dormant spray and affects all insects, it’s essential to avoid using neem oil at a time when it affects beneficial insects that aid in pollination.
When to Spray Neem Oil on Citrus Trees
If you spot signs of insect damage on your fruit trees and want to protect them using neem oil, the best time to treat your trees is in the morning or late in the evening. During these times of the day, beneficial insects like bees and butterflies are the least active.
Knowing when to spray neem oil on citrus trees is crucial because neem oil is not a dormant oil, and any insects that ingest the oil on treated plants are subject to its effects. Beneficial insects like butterflies don’t feed on plant leaves, but spraying neem oil while butterflies or bees are around can increase their risk of ingesting the pesticide.
Common pests like the citrus leafminer, Asian citrus psyllid, and scale insects feed on plant leaves or fruit during the day, and if you treat your trees early in the morning, it allows insects to feed on treated leaves, causing them to ingest the oil.
Using Neem Oil as an Insecticide Spray
Neem oil is effective against soft-bodied insects but is most effective when ingested. Pests like the citrus leaf miner thrive by living inside the surface of new leaves and feeding on the plant matter. Treat leaf miners on citrus trees with an insecticidal soap foliar spray to target bugs without leaving toxic residue on your indoor plants or in the yard.
Combine water with soap to allow neem oil to mix easily in a sprayer. Spray the neem oil evenly across all leaf surfaces. This is the best spray for aphids on outdoor fruit trees to quickly eliminate the issue.
Note: Coconut oil mixes well with neem oil to apply to plant leaves to add nutrients and repel pests.
How to Use Neem Oil on Citrus Trees for Fungal Diseases
The benefits of using neem oil for citrus trees go beyond stopping insects from damaging your citrus plant leaves. Aside from acting as a pesticide, neem oil has antifungal properties that make it helpful for removing issues like sooty mold and powdery mildew.
Sooty mold comes from the honeydew left by sap-sucking insects like aphids and mealybugs, commonly found on lemon trees. The honeydew left on leaves turns dark as fungi grow on the leaf surface. Clean this mold with Castile soap and water – a neem oil treatment helps kill fungi.
Mix the ingredients in a sprayer and spray all plant surfaces. Repeat this treatment at least once a week as needed.
Neem Oil Soak
Although plants absorb nutrients through the surface of their leaves, using a pesticide soak on the soil around your citrus trees is highly effective as it allows plants to absorb neem oil as a systemic insecticide. Using neem oil in this method eliminates the risk of burning plant leaves or beneficial insects encountering neem oil while visiting trees.
Mix all ingredients into a bucket to combine. Pour the soak around the roots of your citrus tree once every two weeks to combat an active infestation.
Neem Oil and Horticultural Oil
Horticultural oils are pesticides that treat various pests, including spider mites. Neem oil is effective for preventative treatments; however, these oils are often used together or with plant oils as a form of pest control. Horticultural oils work best at the start of the growing season for trees when you notice signs of an infestation.
When looking for pest control to protect your citrus trees, various commercial options exist for citrus trees. Despite this, using natural resources like neem oil for citrus trees is equally as effective without introducing harsh chemicals into your garden or orchard.
When using pure neem oil on citrus trees, follow the label instructions for safe usage and handling. Neem oil is not toxic to humans, but prolonged contact results in skin and eye irritation.
If you figured out how to use neem oil on citrus trees with help from our guide, consider sharing our advice on when to spray neem oil on citrus trees with your fellow gardeners on Facebook and Pinterest.