How do you use neem oil on fiddle leaf figs safely and effectively? Neem oil is a staple in any indoor plant owner’s arsenal because it’s an amazing, all-natural treatment for fighting off all manner of household pests and even fungal infections that can harm your poor fiddle.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using this stuff to treat pests and fungus on your fiddle and other houseplants. Let’s get started!
What Is Neem Oil?
First things first: What is neem oil anyway?
Neem oil comes from the seeds of the neem tree and is used in all kinds of pest control products. You can also find isolated components of neem oil in household products you use every day, such as toothpaste and soap. The neem tree is scientifically known as Azadirachta indica A. Juss, also commonly called the margosa tree.
In its pure state, neem oil has a strong, garlicky odor and is a dark yellow color.
For many, many years, neem oil has been used in India as a natural pesticide as well as medicinally to improve the immune system, digestive system, and for detox purposes. (We don’t recommend trying this without the supervision of a trained medical professional, by the way, but it’s interesting to note!)
The seed kernels (and pure pressed oil) of the neem tree contain a variety of active components that contribute to its pest and fungus-fighting properties, but the most powerful is called azadirachtin, which wreaks havoc on insects’ hormones and behaviors that are driven by those hormones (which is just about everything the insects do) while being relatively harmless to humans and animals.
Neem oil leaves behind no toxic buildup or residue and is completely biodegradable, making it a highly effective alternative to synthetic insecticides and fungicides for both indoor gardening and commercial farming.
Cool stuff, right?
How Is Neem Oil Used on Fiddle Leaf Fig?
As we mentioned earlier, neem oil is primarily used as an all-natural insecticide on fiddle leaf figs and other plants, but it can also be useful in getting rid of harmful fungus.
But how does that even work? Let’s break down how neem oil actually functions and why it’s amazing for killing off bugs and fungus that can harm your precious fiddle.
Neem oil acts as a natural insecticide thanks to azadirachtin, the active component, because it disrupts insects’ hormones and impacts their life cycle by reducing their ability to eat and reproduce. While it doesn’t kill insects right away, it can work wonders in reducing pests over time, especially if you do a few applications to affect new generations of insects as they hatch.
The great thing about neem oil is that it only affects harmful insects, not beneficial ones. So if you’ve released ladybugs on your fiddle to keep aphids under control, don’t worry. Your friends will be safe!
Pure neem oil, or even clarified hydrophobic extract of neem oil, is also an effective fungicide that can fight off diseases that can harm your fiddle such as rust, powdery mildew, black spot, etc.
To treat and prevent these fungal diseases, you can dilute and apply the neem oil exactly as you would when using it as an insecticide (we’ll show you how to do this in a minute). This makes for a powerful one-two punch when it comes to preventing harmful pests and diseases for your fiddle!
Is Neem Oil Safe for Plants?
Neem oil is generally safe for plants, including your fiddle, but try not to apply it in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest and brightest, because it can temporarily make your fiddle’s leaves a little more photosensitive and cause scorching. It’s best to apply your neem oil solution early in the morning while the sun is gentle and less direct.
Is Need Oil Safe for Pets?
Pure neem oil can be irritating to eyes and skin if directly exposed and the stomach if it’s ingested, so keep your pets away from your fiddle after treating until the leaves are dry. (You’ll probably want to spray outside anyway, since neem oil has kind of a garlicky funk that you might not like in your house.)
Since neem oil doesn’t leave behind toxic residue buildup, it’s harmless once it dries and breaks down. This is another reason why it’s such a popular organic insecticide and fungicide. It’s harmless to wildlife and beneficial insects while killing off the harmful insects only!
Is Neem Oil Organic?
Yes! Neem oil is a highly effective, all-natural pesticide that comes in handy for indoor and outdoor gardeners alike. It’s been used for thousands of years in India to protect crops from insects and is an important element of organic farming around the world today.
How to Use Need Oil on Fiddle Leaf Figs
Now for the good stuff: here’s how to use neem oil to get those little buggers off your fiddle! It’s super easy and only requires a spray bottle, water, neem oil, and a little gentle dish soap. Easy-peasy!
Cleaning Leaves and Prevention
It’s best to apply a neem oil solution to clean leaves if possible, simply because any insecticide or fungicide will be more effective if it’s not inhibited by a bunch of residue and gunky buildup. The neem oil may also mix with the debris and make the leaves even dirtier (and possibly even burn them) because it will linger instead of drying and evaporating after doing its job.
If your leaves are on the dirty side, give them a good dusting before applying neem oil. Use a clean, soft cloth to wipe the leaves, or even use a little water and detergent-free dish soap if your leaves are really dirty.
A shower is also a good idea because this can rinse off most of the pests before you even apply your diluted neem oil spray, and has the added benefit of cleaning the leaves.
How to Apply Need Oil
To apply the neem oil, you’ll need to dilute it with water and maybe add a little soap to emulsify the mixture. Never apply straight neem oil to the leaves, because it’s strong stuff that can chemically burn your fiddle’s leaves quickly, especially if your fiddle gets any direct sun.
You can also buy commercial neem oil sprays that are premixed and ready to go. These can be convenient and they’re certainly better than nothing, but they might not be as potent or effective as a homemade solution.
Here’s a great recipe for a homemade neem oil spray:
Mix a tablespoon or two of neem oil into one gallon of water, and add a teaspoon or two of mild dish soap. Shake or stir to mix well, and put the solution into a spray bottle to apply to your fiddle.
You can also cut this recipe in half if you don’t think you’ll need the whole gallon at once, because the solution doesn’t keep. (The oil will separate and not want to mix again.)
Spraying is the most common way to apply neem oil because it’s probably the easiest method. To do this, we recommend taking your fiddle outside (remember, neem oil can be stinky!) and thoroughly spraying the plant from top to bottom, making sure to get the tops and bottoms of the leaves as well as the trunk and stems. Don’t be shy here; spray generously so that your whole fiddle is dripping like it just sat through a big rainstorm.
Let the plant dry before bringing it back inside. Do this out of direct sun if possible to prevent burning the leaves.
You can also wipe the leaves with your neem oil solution to get rid of insects and prevent infestation. To do this, make sure to wear gloves because neem oil can be slightly irritating to the skin.
Use a soft, clean rag and wet it with your neem oil solution, then thoroughly wipe the tops and undersides of each leaf, making sure to generously re-wet the rag frequently so you’re actually applying the solution to the leaves, not just wiping them off with a mostly dry rag.
Treating Pests & Disease
Neem oil is effective for treating and preventing pests as well as fungal issues such as powdery mildew.
Spraying on Leaves, Stems & Soil
Insects and fungus can hide out on any part of your fiddle, so leave no leaf unturned! Thoroughly spray boths sides of all your fiddle’s leaves (we know, that can be a tall order), and don’t forget to also spray the stems, trunk, and even give the soil a generous misting to make sure any and every insect and nest on your plant gets dosed. The more thorough you are, the quicker the little buggers will die off!
How Often Should I Spray?
If you’re treating an active infestation, give your fiddle a good dousing every week. If you’re using neem oil spray preventatively, you can spray every few weeks or once a month to keep would-be infestations at bay.
The same goes for treating fungal diseases. Spray or wipe the leaves once per week while the infection is still active, and once or twice a month after that to prevent the fungus from returning, or as a preventative measure.
Best Neem Oil for Fiddle Leaf Figs
You’ll find tons of neem oils on the market, but we like BioAdvanced Neem Oil, which you can get on Amazon. It is really easy to use and It kills eggs, larvae and adult stages of insects, plus prevents fungal attacks of plant tissues.
We also highly recommend our Leaf Armor, which shines your fiddle’s leaves and also acts as a protectant to not only deter insects but repel dust, dirt, debris, fungus, and other harmful pathogens that could hurt your fiddle.
FAQ: Using Neem Oil on Fiddle Leaf Figs
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Here are the A’s to your Q’s about neem oil and using it to treat pests and fungus on your houseplants.
Can you leave neem oil on plant leaves?
Yes! After spraying your plant generously with your neem oil solution, allow the plant to dry naturally in an area with good airflow (like outside, if possible). Just make sure to keep your plant out of direct sunlight right after treatment to prevent burning the leaves.
Is neem oil toxic for humans?
Neem oil can be irritating to the eyes and skin, especially when undiluted, so we recommend wearing gloves when mixing and applying to your plant. It’s also damaging to the stomach, so don’t go drinking it or anything. (We don’t really have to tell you this, right?)
But there is no toxic buildup and the material breaks down completely after you apply it to your plant, so there are no lasting harmful effects of using it on your indoor or outdoor plants.
Where can I buy neem oil?
Neem oil is super common, so you can find it at just about any gardening center (even in big chain stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot) and online. Just make sure to read the label to know what you’re getting. It’s easy to accidentally buy a premixed spray when you are looking for undiluted neem oil.
What kind of neem oil should I get?
We like this kind, but there are plenty of effective brands and neem oils out there.
Cold-pressed neem oil might also be a little more effective and healthier than regular chemically extracted neem oil because it contains no chemical solvents and may have higher levels of azadirachtin, which may increase its potency and effectiveness.
Using Neem Oil on Your Fiddle Leaf Fig: Final Thoughts
If you’re a houseplant owner, it’s a good idea to keep a small jug of neem oil around just in case you run into problems with insects or a fungal disease.
And while neem oil on fiddle leaf figs is an effective treatment for these issues, prevention is still the best route!
Make sure to take excellent care of your fiddle leaf fig by watering and feeding it properly, providing enough bright sunlight (this is a huge deterrent to pests and fungus), and allowing some airflow between the leaves to prevent stagnant air that can encourage fungal growth or a warm, dark environment for insects to lay their eggs.
Here are some of our most popular resources on fiddle leaf fig care to help you grow the happiest, healthiest, and most beautiful fiddle possible!