How to Use Neem Oil on Your Tomato Plants & Garden

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Learning how to use neem oil on tomato plants and in the garden is one of the easiest organic methods for eliminating common garden pests and diseases.

how to use neem oil on tomato plants

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Nothing says summer like juicy, ripe tomatoes straight from the vine. They are one of the most popular crops in the vegetable garden. In addition to being delicious, tomatoes are low in calories and rich in nutrients, including Vitamins C and K, biotin, and red carotene, which studies suggest can help prevent certain cancers. 

You got them early this year and your tomato plants never looked better–to you or to the neighborhood bugs. While there are thousands of varieties of tomato plants, none are immune from insect infestation of the common garden pests. The signs are unmistakable: insect eggs on the leaves, caterpillars on the stems, nibbled plants, and fallen flowers. Many different natural remedies exist for removing bugs from tomato plants. 

Unfortunately, no matter how carefully you tend your garden, it is likely that garden pests will try to share your crop. Among the bugs that are most likely to find their way into your tomato patch are: aphids, spider mites, white flies, flea beetles, and leaf-hoppers. Many of these pests lay their eggs on the underside of tomato plant leaves. Not to fret, a plant extract used for thousands of years in India now looks to be the organic gardener’s new best friend.

What is Neem Oil?

Neem Oil has become a hot topic in gardening circles because it’s an effective pesticide that is safe to use in the garden and on your garden plants, it comes from a natural source and is less likely to be toxic to beneficial insects than traditional pesticides. When used properly, there is no danger to pets or children. The result is a pesticide you can use on fruits and vegetables without worry. 

Neem oil is a remarkable compound that kills pests in many stages and stops reproduction. It is an effective natural alternative to chemical pesticides.

Neem Oil is extracted from Azadirachta indica, a member of the Meliaceae family. It is a type of mahogany tree indigenous to tropical and semi-tropical areas, particularly in southeastern Asia.

Neem Oil is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy used to treat a variety of skin conditions. It is also widely used as a natural pesticide and insecticide. Neem is chemical-free, and although it is toxic to many insects and fungi, it is safe for human use.

Early Sanskrit texts refer to “arishtha,” or “neem”, for its remarkable healing properties. Along with Neem Oil, the leaves, fruit, and bark of the plant are also referred to as beneficial in medical journals.

The oil, a botanical extract made from the seeds of the Southeast Asian neem plant (azadirachta indica), has long been used in that region, but has only in recent years come into use in the United States. 

Benefits of Using Neem Oil on Your Garden Plants for Pest Control

Farmers and gardeners are becoming big fans of Neem Oil because it fends off undesirable bugs and also treats fungal diseases such as rust, mildew, and blight. Though the benefits of using Neem Oil for the entire garden are endless, its use in assisting with thriving tomato plants has garnered attention. In fact, Neem Oil used as a spray, eliminates most issues that gardeners have with tomatoes. These issues include repelling harmful moths and hornworms, as well as stopping pesky powdery mildew.

Using Neem Oil for natural pest control can be a game-changer. This effective and safe option can easily replace harmful chemical pesticides in your garden. Furthermore, keeping nasty insects off of your family’s food! 

Not only is Neem Oil excellent for your plants, but it is also safe for birds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial bugs. Because of this, it is an eco-friendly solution to pest control that you can feel good about. Neem will even clear contaminated soil so you can plant again next year without issues with unwanted insects and diseases that affected your garden this year.

ripe garden grown tomatoes

Considerations And The Benefits Of Neem Oil on Tomato Plants

Non-organic pesticides or chemical pesticides available for tomato plants usually contain products you do not wish to eat. Manufacturer labels often contain warnings about consuming the product, caution gardeners to keep the pesticide off the skin and out of breathing range, and to avoid eating any fruit at least a week after spraying. Many people prefer a more natural solution to recurring pest and disease problems.

Solutions and effective treatment

The first line of defense for your plants should be careful surveillance. If you are checking the leaves regularly, you will see insect eggs before they hatch. The simplest and most effective natural way to rid yourself of the bug eggs is to wipe them off. Larger insects or caterpillars, including hornworms, can be hand-picked off the plants. Another natural option is to introduce ladybugs, who prefer aphids to tomato leaves.

When more effort is necessary, organic gardeners suggest using other plants interspersed with your tomatoes to ward off pests. Seeding garlic and feverfew among your tomato plants will keep away many pests, while castor bean plants head off Japanese beetles. Make your own natural Neem spray solutions from any of these plants. Among the best-known organic pesticides is pyrethrum, which comes from painted daisies. A tea made of dried petals will kill soft-bodied insects but will not harm you or your pets.

Gardeners like myself are especially excited about Neem Oil as a remedy for aphids and white flies. If you have roses, you know what I’m talking about. Once aphids set in on the buds, it’s often difficult to get rid of them without resorting to dangerous pesticides. However, Neem Oil does a wonderful job of eliminating a wide range of pests that would otherwise harm your outdoor plants or mammals. It can be sprayed both on the plant and the soil. Incredibly, Neem Oil eliminates armyworms, Japanese beetles, fungus gnats, leafminers, and some nematodes. 

Neem Oil contains the chemical azadirachtin, which discourages insects in several ways. The oil is bitter, so bugs don’t like to eat anything that’s been sprayed with it. Studies have also shown that azadirachtin alters insect development and prevents insect larvae from growing normally. Neem Oil not only deters adult insects but also damages their young.

Making Your Own Neem Oil

You can either buy pure Neem Oil and make your own spray from it, or there are pre-made sprays available at your local nursery and garden centers.

Garden experts recommend spraying your plants in the late evening or in the early morning for the best results to avoid burning the leaves of the plants. Also, if you see beneficial insects in the area such as ladybugs, you may want to wait before spraying with a Neem Oil spray, so you don’t chase the beneficial bugs away.

To Make Your Own Spray Bottle for Tomato Plants:

  • Mix a half-teaspoon of insecticidal soap or other detergent with a quart of warm water.
  •  Slowly add one teaspoon of Neem Oil while stirring constantly.
  •  Pour the mix into your sprayer.

Continue to shake while spraying, so that the mixture won’t separate. 

Be sure to spray the Neem Oil solution on the tops and bottoms of leaves and on the entire plant roots.

You will need to prepare a fresh batch each time you want to spray, as Neem Oil degrades quickly if exposed to heat and sunlight. Therefore, it is important to use the mixture within eight hours. 

Store in a dark, cool place.

How Often To use Neem Oil on Tomato Plants

Neem Oil should only be applied to tomato plants every seven to fourteen days. Applying it too frequently can lead to a buildup of too much oil. The best time to apply Neem Oil is in the early morning or late evening. It should be applied when the plants are not in direct sunlight.

Medicinal Properties And Uses For People

Because it acts as a natural antiseptic, Neem oil is used to treat many fungal infections, including treating boils, eczema, ringworm, as well as other dermatological afflictions. Additionally, Neem has proven combative against the following toxins:

  • trichophyton, a cause of athlete’s foot. 
  • epidermophyton, which causes ringworm.
  • microsporum, which causes ringworm.
  • trichosporon, which infects the intestinal tract.
  • geotrichum, which infects the bronchi and mucus membranes with a yeast-like fungus. 
  • candida, also a yeast-like fungus. 
  • As an antibacterial, Neem oil has also been known to aid in controlling certain strains of staphylococcus aureus and salmonella typhosa.
  • The oil is also used cosmetically on the hair and scalp. Just add Neem oil to your shampoo to fight dandruff flakes. 
  • Used properly, Neem Oil is an effective insect repellent without adverse effects. Rub neem oil on your skin to repel mosquitoes and lice. 
roma tomatoes on the vine

Things to Remember:

  • Make sure you’re using pure Neem Oil and not a pre-mixed product that contains other chemicals. 
  • Dilute the Neem Oil in water according to the manufacturer’s instructions and then spray it on the leaves and stems of your tomato plants. 
  • Be sure to cover the entire plant, including the undersides of leaves where pests often hide to get the best results. 
  • When using Neem Oil, it’s important to remember that it’s not a quick fix and it does require regular application through the growing season. 
  • For best results, apply Neem Oil every two weeks. This is a great reminder to add to your garden planner so you never miss this step if you are using Neem Oil as a repellent rather than a treatment in the garden.
tomato garden neem oil


Neem oil has a smell similar to a mixture of garlic and peanuts. As a result, it may be slightly difficult to remove the aroma from the skin if the oil is highly concentrated. However, you may mix Neem Oil with other oils or with water to dilute.

Neem oil should never be given to infants or small children and should be kept safely out of their reach.

Because no data is available regarding the safety of using Neem Oil during pregnancy, pregnant women should refrain from use. 

Neem oil insecticide can be toxic in large doses. People with impaired liver or kidney function should practice caution and consult with their medical practitioner before taking Neem Oil. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend not taking Neem Oil in cases of acute malnutrition, tuberculosis or other wasting conditions, or fatigue. 

Side effects affecting adults typically affect the digestive tract with diarrhea, nausea, or upset stomach.

tomatoes from the garden
Alternative Neem Oil Products

If you are looking for other natural methods to take care of your tomatoes and plants then you may be interested in neem cakes. Neem cakes are an organic fertilizer in a pellet form that are made from cold-pressed neem oil. They are great for vegetable gardening, fruit trees, and indoor plants or outdoor plants. 

Neem oil is not the be-all-end-all solution for your garden that it may sound like. You will still want to use other garden practices that help your garden thrive like companion planting, composting, building an ecosystem that is beneficial insect friendly, and watering at ground level to help prevent root rot. When it comes to growing juicy tomatoes you need every tool you can get and neem oil really should be at the top of this list. This year you can grow the most impressive tomatoes in your garden even if the season started out a bit rough with neem oil on your side.

Gardening Essentials

Many of the things listed above can be found at your local garden center or nursery. A few of the items listed above can actually also be found online. Here are a few options for ready-made compost tumblers and bins online:

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