How to make neem oil spray for plants? I’m battling an infestation of aphids on my roses. Can you also tell me what time of day is best for spraying?
Manuela Franklin, Nashville
I’m glad to hear you want to make neem oil spray to get rid of aphids in your plants. It’s a safe alternative to commercial pesticides and is very simple to do. In fact, it’s an ancient remedy for a wide range of problems from mites and scale to fungi, and more. And, organic neem oil is safe to use around beneficial insects like bees and lady bugs since you spray the leaves and stems rather than the flowers. You can see a wide range of its uses in this article on neem oil for plants.
To mix up a bug spray for houseplants at home, you’ll need a couple of ingredients besides the neem oil. First, add the oil to warm water in a 1:1 ratio. For example, use one quart of oil to one quart of water. Squeeze in a few drops of dish detergent or a teaspoon of liquid Castile soap to make a spray for mealybugs or aphids and other pests.
After you combine everything, it’s ready for use on your roses or a variety of other outdoor plants in the yard, from flowers to veggies to ornamentals. Of course, you’ll want to apply it as soon as possible because it begins to break down after a couple of hours.
Then you asked what time of day is best for spraying the neem oil on your plants, whether you spray neem oil on lemon trees or other fruits, veggies, or ornamentals. My preference is to treat them in the evening once the sun is no longer shining on them. You can also spray them in the early morning. Just avoid doing it in the middle of the day when the sun is hot as the neem oil will burn the leaves.
Also, neem oil works not just on outdoor plants but can be very useful on low light houseplants or any other type of plant you have in the home. Use a less concentrated ratio on these evergreen houseplants to avoid any “burning.” Plan on repeating the treatment once a week for five weeks to make sure you’ve stopped the aphids from coming back.
For outdoor plants, aphids are not the only pest you may face. Moles enjoy digging through loose earth to make their tunnels, which encourages other critters to use them to access and munch on your flowers and veggies. Effective ground mole control is necessary to prevent tunnels and a variety of small rodents in your yard.
Make a simple but effective homemade neem oil mosquito repellent and use it around the patio or deck before grilling or sitting outside. The unwelcome bugs don’t like the scent and will go away to bother someone else.