Neem Oil

ProfSproutMarch 15, 2013

Hi all,

I've read how neem oil can be sprayed on new plants (3 times/a week apart) as a preventative measure against disease/pests. I've never used neem oil and was wondering:

a) How frequently should it be sprayed as a preventative on 'established' plants? Each time I repot?
b) Has anyone's violets experienced adverse effects with neem oil? Can the leaves breathe through all that glossy oil?

I would conduct a trial on a leaf or two but on my micros a leaf or two is a good chunk of the plant and I'm afraid I might kill them. Thanks a million in advance for your input!


This post was edited by ProfSprout on Fri, Mar 15, 13 at 16:45

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perle_de_or(Zone 7)

I used it last fall for a mild case of powdery mildew. It worked wonderfully, and I only had to use it a couple of times. These were standard leaves put down in solo cups. They actually seemed to like it. I have no experience with micros, so I am sorry I can't tell you about that. But it is supposed to be non toxic and you can even spray in the house, which I did by putting them in my bathtub, let them dry before putting back on the shelf. I also used it as a drench on my large houseplants before I brought them in for the winter.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 3:44PM
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Does it kill scale??

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 4:21PM
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neem oil affects the reproduction cycle of insects (and humans in a greater dose). I know of people who use it, but I think more people are preferring to use imidacloprid based products to prevent/treat for bugs.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 10:47PM
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If a rootless standard leaf can handle it, then I'm thinking a micro can too! Good to know neem oil was able to knock out your case of powdery mildew.

I read somewhere that neem oil may 'prevent' (not sure about 'treat') scale but don't take my word for it since I've never used it.

I don't have experience with imidacloprid but I've only seen it in granular form (Marathon, Bonide). Does it come in liquid form, suitable for spraying?

Folks, apparently neem oil is available in a concentrate where you have to mix a solution (that has to be used asap), and a ready-to-use spray bottle...any thoughts on which one is better?

Keep the input coming, please! I'm just getting back into AVs and appreciate the help (my first go-around with AVs hadn't gone so well).


    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:47AM
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There is another product I've used which is formulated from Neem oil. It seems to avoid any oily residue on your plants.

It is called AzaMax. It's affordable and seems to work well to solve various insect/mite problems on your violets.

It was recommended by Kent Stork on a segment of the online "All About African Violets" podcast.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 4:00PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Sprout -

the liquid form of imidacloprid is called Merit.

I do not spray for prevention, unless it is some kind of danger of infestation is present - like we are getting close to the Powdery Mildew season soon.

If you brought a new plant - which you are going to keep in isolation - probably any kind of Neem oil is good. If you got the leaf - I would think dipping it into a Clorox 1:3 or rubbing alcohol - same dilution --is less hassle.
L. -
Neem oil works on contact - so probably scale is too well protected for neem. You need systemic like Imidacloprid that is going to travel through the plant tissues and poison the pests while they feed..You can kill the crawlers - the young scale - before they get attached and covered - but it is probably hard to catch them all at once before they get themselves covered.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:08PM
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perle_de_or(Zone 7)

I don't know about scale, have never had to deal with that. I got the Neem Oil at home depot and bought a spray bottle too. I figured out the amount to use to mix up a small amount, I think about a pint. You are supposed to not keep it after using, but I think I did keep some a day or so and used it. Then I used it as a drench on some houseplants rather than just throw it out. It has a peculiar smell, but it stopped bothering me and the smell goes away. I also used it to spray some AV's I brought home from Home Depot before bringing them in the house, just as a precaution. I had dis-budded those plants before I sprayed them. Its best to use it warm or room temperature. You can just set the mixture in your spray bottle in some warm water to take any chill off.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 1:29AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Scale - was mentioned, never heard of of scale on the AVs. We all have different plants besides gesneriads - and we want to have them healthy too.

My take on Neem oil smell - is rotten onion...


    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:34AM
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Something about the glossiness and gloopiness of any kind of oil treatment tends to make me hesitate. Sounds like AzaMax provides the benefits of neem without the cons! I've included a link at the bottom; is it the podcast you had mentioned??

Homemade solutions to problems are my favorite kinds--inexpensive and handy. As soon as my violets are established enough to give leaves, I will try either the bleach or rubbing alcohol dip before putting them into a zippered maternity bag. As for the spraying, I think I'll wait as you recommended, perhaps until right before the furnace is shut off for good.

I like your mindset, waste not want not. For my small violet collection I'd never need to mix a gallon of solution unless my other plants need a drench as well-- and like you mentioned, new plants too. New plants from big box stores can be quite scary sometimes. In fact, it was a fungus gnat-infested, moldy-foliaged orchid that was brought into my home by a well meaning individual that prompted me to start this thread.

Folks, thanks for your aid! I think I might be getting obsessed with violets :)


Here is a link that might be useful: All About African Violets

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Plants from big box stores may also have been through a whole regimen of hormone and chemical treatments to make them "perfect" for market.
Once that supply is cut off, IE the "consumer" takes it home, the plant goes into decline fast or simply will not bloom ever again.
Such forced plants should be avoided.
A good place to start is at a reputable garden center or from a private collector, where they can verify the history of the plant in question.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Sprout ...

The link is to the podcast I mentioned.

The one where AzaMax is discussed is #17, on Oct 21st.

Look in the October archive to find this episode.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:23PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Leafhead -

this is an urban legend IMHO.

AVs do not need hormones - they are growing like weeds anyway - in a controlled environment. The culture shock when they are taken from their home - packed - driven across the country - kept in a store where the guy who waters them comes with a garden hose with icy cold water - and when the plants are sold - they go to the brown thumb people who should stick to the plastic plants...I know several like this - they get the plant - put a bow tie on a pot - and a plastic butterfly on the top - and stick it in a darkest corner - where the flower color matches the upholstery - and continue watering them to death. Month later - plant is gone...

We do not need conspiracy - we can do it on our own ;-))


    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:46PM
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Update: Decided to go with a ready-to-use neem solution so I can test it before investing in the concentrate or something else. By the way, to me, the spray smells vaguely of french-fried onions. Not too bothersome. Thanks a million for all of your input. My re-entry into the world of African violets has been an enlightening one.

Yesterday, I visited an independent nursery not too far off. Talk about the contrast between big box places and a reputable garden center-- it was so so pleasant to see the healthy plants and products available (FINALLY I found an offline source for fertilizer-free perlite, felt like a holy grail moment). Plus there were knowledgible nurserymen on hand. Too bad they didn't have any African violets.

Wow, thank you for going through the trouble of directing me to the specific podcast! I wasn't expecting that, just needed verification of the website, and I hope it didn't take too much of your time to find #17. Those podcasts, like this forum, are treasure troves of information.

Happy first "official" day of Spring!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 2:31PM
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