Garden Insecticides

Neem for Garden Pests and Diseases

  • Neem trees simply growing in your yard provide wonderful shade and even better, slowly eliminate mosquitos and fleas from their territory.
  • Spread dried leaves around the house, outdoors or inside as strewing herbs to control insects.  Add a few sprigs to your fruit basket both for decorative value and to deter fruit flies.
  • Keep a neem leaf just lying loose on the potting table when working there, and also dropped near your feet when mosquitos are thick in the nearby area. For walking around through fogs of them, put a neem leaf or two in a hat band, a pocket, or a shoe or sock. Or wad up a big leaf and scrub it over the skin of feet and lower legs.
  • Make up a special strong solution of neem oil, soap and water for bad critters in and around the garden like ants or slugs. It works! Sometimes a repeat application is needed. In the case of those  ants with the big red butts, it took three sprayings to totally eliminate them when they were swarming.
  • Put neem oil with some soap and water in a hose end garden sprayer and do the whole yard every few months.
  • Spray sitting or picnic areas with the above before company is expected and no problem for quite a while.
  • Neem oil is the only thing I’ve ever discovered that really chases off fire ants. If you have some on your hands and feet, they climb up and go right back down. Perhaps would bite when I smell like that, but I’d rather smell funny than get fire ant bites. (Make sure it’s the all-natural version, not the kind that’s been formulated to spray though.) Neem oil is also a potent anti-inflammatory agent and makes the itch from fire ant, wasp or mosquito bites go away.
  • Neem cake  works as a systemic pesticide, plus it chases squirrels out of flower pots and hanging baskets.
  • If your trees are good size, cut back the branches and use them as a mulch around plants that end up with bugs, particularly veggies. Although not as strong as the neem cake, the branches break down and become a systemic pesticide too, plus you get the water-saving benefits of the mulch. No need to break them up.  Just lay them flat where you want them and then use the larger pieces for vertical vines once the leaves have all fallen off.
  • The general recommendation for neem is to mix a pound of neem leaves in a blender with a little bit of hot water. Strain it through the leg of an old pair of pantyhose and then hang it in a bucket with two or three gallons of water overnight. In the morning, mix a little bit of soap in the water and spray plants. Be sure to use the ground-up leftover neem as mulch on an extra-sensitive plant.
  • Neem trees grow well in Florida in the sun, in the ground where they have some frost protection, in containers farther north.  Kathy and Wae Nelson (editor and publisher of Florida Gardening Magazine)  and myself have large, thriving trees. Theirs are in Melbourne on the east coast and mine are near Tampa on the west.  They grow quickly even in our sandy soil, more quickly the more humus and mulch used.  If cold should nip them back, pick and save the brown leaves. Herbs are useful dead or alive.

Excerpt from Florida Gardening, the Newcomer’s Survival Manual,
2nd Edition, by Monica Brandies
You may purchase the book and get much more gardening advice
from Monica at

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