Do You Spray Neem Oil on Soil or Leaves? Best Way to Do It

Suyash is a Master Gardener and the Editorial and Strategy Director at With a focus on houseplant care, he combines over a decade of hands-on horticultural experience with editorial expertise to guide and educate plant enthusiasts.
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Do You Spray Neem Oil on Soil or Leaves – this question is often a debate among gardeners, and we’ll help to answer this for you!

Neem oil is potent in keeping a wide array of garden pests and diseases at bay. But, when it comes to application, do you target the soil or the leaves? Let’s find out!

Table of contents

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Spraying Neem Oil on Leaves

Spraying Neem Oil on Leaves


  • When applied on leaves, it acts directly on pests like aphids, mites, and whiteflies, killing and preventing them from feeding on the plant.
  • Neem oil is most effective against powdery mildew and rust when applied this way.
  • Leaf application provides quick results.


  • Overuse or incorrect dilution can lead to leaf burn, especially in hot weather.
  • Neem oil breaks down quickly with exposure to sunlight and rain, requiring frequent reapplications.
  • It may not reach pests or diseases in the soil (Obviously!).

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Spraying Neem Oil in Soil

Spraying Neem Oil in Soil


  • Soil application can control soil-borne larvae and pests like root aphids and nematodes.
  • Avoids the risk of leaf burn associated with foliar spraying.


  • It takes time for the plant to absorb neem oil from the soil, delaying pest control effects.
  • It may not effectively control pests and diseases that affect the foliage directly.
  • Excessive use in soil could affect beneficial microorganisms.

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Right Dilution and Application

Right Dilution and Application

Mix 2 tablespoons of neem oil and 1-2 teaspoons of liquid soap (as an emulsifier) with a gallon of water. 

  • Always test the diluted solution on a small part of the plant and wait 24 hours to check for adverse reactions.
  • Spray in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid leaf burn.
  • Always shake well before using, as oil and water separate quickly.
  • Re-apply every 7 to 14 days for effective control, especially after rain or watering.

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The best method for using neem oil in your garden largely depends on the specific issues you are addressing:

  • For pests like aphids, spider mites, or fungal diseases affecting the leaves and stems, spraying neem oil directly on the leaves (foliar application) is more effective. This method ensures direct contact with the pests and diseases, providing quicker and more targeted action.
  • If your concern is more about soil-borne pests, applying neem oil to the soil is a better choice. This method is slower in action but helps control pests like root aphids and nematodes, contributing to the overall health of the plant.

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