Neem oil is one of my go-to remedies for small insect and pest problems. It is a natural insecticide and general treatment for plants that help us maintain the balance so that we are the primary herbivores in our garden – not insects! Find out why neem oil for tomato plants is a good natural pesticide and how you can use neem oil to manage common tomato pests in your garden or greenhouse.
What is Neem Oil?
Neem oil is a natural product extracted from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree, Azadirachta indica. Neem trees grow in India and Africa. Neem oil is used for a variety of purposes, but the one most commonly known is its use in pest control. Neem oil has a wide range of properties that can be used to control various problems in the garden.
Neem oil kills various pests by reducing/killing their appetite and interfering with their breeding. Common garden pests that infest tomatoes that can be controlled with neem include aphids, whiteflies, thrips, fungus gnats, spider mites, and leaf hoppers.
In India, neem oil has been used as a natural remedy for almost all diseases and ailments. Current research suggests that neem oil can also be used to control certain soil nematodes (these are common agricultural pests), fungal infections, bacterial infections, and even snails and slugs.
Is Neem Oil On Vegetables a Good Idea?
Neem oil is one of my simple go-to remedies when I get small blooms in problem pests in my garden. Do not fool yourself into thinking that just because neem oil is natural, it is harmless – as, with all natural poisonous substances, neem is toxic, but, it is less persistent and unpleasant for your health than many synthetic poisons.
Typically, you would want to try and time your neem oil applications so that you have at least three weeks before harvest. This will allow the slightly unpleasant (possibly unhealthy) neem oil taste to leave your products.
Where To Find Neem Oil?
There are many easily available licensed-approved preparations. I normally just find something that works and stick with it! Experiments cost crops.
Read more about Does Neem Oil Kill Ants? – A Deeper Research
Can Neem Oil Help Your Tomato Grow Into Healthier Plant
For any tomato grower, two main pests can really mess up your crop. Whiteflies and spider mites. The majority of other pests can be controlled more easily.
In hot humid weather white flies can multiply very rapidly – you find them on the underside of your tomato leaves. Hence when you spray with neem oil spray you do need to try and get to the underside of the leaves. I have a sprayer similar to this one.
With this, you can get a nice fine misty jet and spray under the leaves. Remember to clean the sprayer machine after you are finished with it using warm soapy water and then clean water – the little rubber fittings in these units go soggy if you leave them. At one or two of the commercial cannabis grow facilities where I consult they use these machines which work very well.
If you have an unlimited budget, then get one of those!
Spider mites are dry hot weather pests. Remember how white flies enjoy hot humid weather – well when it gets hot and dry every spider mite will march into your tomatoes and cover them in a layer of silk and yellow leaf dots rendering your plants unhealthy and unproductive/dead.
I find that spraying the leaves with neem oil can help – however, if you use an additional wetting agent such as this it helps to let the neem oil spray penetrate into the spider mite’s webs that they weave. This is really important as the spider webs they weave can get very thick and dense. I normally also introduce persimilis mites that will act as a longer-term biocontrol and stop the spider mites from building up again.
Early red spider mite outbreaks are easily controlled with neem oil. I find that for my garden, one spray with neem oil seems to be enough to break the back of the infestation. In one very dry year, I had to spray twice. Friends in drier climates tell me they spray every three weeks for the entire summer. Each area has its own methods.
When To Use Neem Oil For Tomato Plants
Ideally, you should do weekly, or biweekly pest inspections on your plants. When you see the initial tell-tale signs of an infestation developing, try and control it before it gets too severe. Pests transmit viruses to your tomato plants. You can control pests, but you can’t do much about viruses – hence controlling pests before they get out of hand is a really good thing to do.
Learn more about The Ultimate Guide To Growing Beefsteak Tomatoes In Pots
Conclusion On Neem Oil For Tomato Plants
Neem oil is an effective and not an exceptionally toxic natural product that can be used to control common tomato pests. The mode of action is really just to stop pests from feeding and breeding, hence it helps gently control problem pests.
How to mix neem oil for tomato plants?
I generally believe in buying a preprepared neem oil formulation. This tends to avoid issues with the product not working. Products such as Bonides Captain Jack neem oil work very well.
Is neem oil safe for vegetables?
Yes. Just try to not use it 21 days before harvest as it can leave an unpleasant taste (which is potentially toxic) on your produce.
Can you use neem oil on tomato plants?
Yes, you can. It is an effective control agent for common tomato pests such as white fly and spider mites.
Find more information about How To Wash Neem Oil Of Vegetables Without Wasting Time Or Water