Neem Oil Plant Burn Guide for New Plant Owners: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Many plant parents can relate to the situation where they used neem oil to eliminate all the harmful pests and fungi, only to discover later that their plant had burned. Neem oil is a highly effective natural chemical to kill pests. However, not knowing how to use it can harm your plants. Neem oil plant burn is a huge issue with beginner plant owners, but no more!

This article discusses the causes, prevention, and treatment methods of neem oil damage to your plants.

Causes of Neem Oil Plant Burn 

Here are some of the widely observed causes of neem oil plant burn:

Using Concentrated Neem Oil

Concentrated neem oil is usually ineffective in killing bugs. However, the high concentration of such a potent liquid is dangerous for foliage.

Neem oil can create a thin film on the foliage blocking the leaves from gaseous exchange. Hence, the situation chokes your dearest plants and causes them to die or burn.

Treating Plants With Neem Oil at the Wrong Time of the Day

Have you been treating plants with neem oil during the sunniest hours? That’s one of the worst times for plants being covered in something as strong as neem oil.

Neem oil is a plant-based chemical extracted from the neem tree. While extremely beneficial, the chemicals in the oil still have distinct properties. These chemicals break down under extreme sunlight, creating a massive burn on your plant’s foliage.

Moreover, the entire plant can burn in some cases due to using neem oil under intense sunlight. Treating plants with neem oil on warm days can cause similar damage.

Treating Plants Regularly with Neem Oil

Do you have a treatment schedule? Are you treating your plants with neem oil every other day? Your frequency of neem oil also dictates how beneficial or damaging it could be to your plants.

The leaf blades have stomata that are openings around the surface, assisting in transpiration and other processes such as respiration. The thin film of neem oil doesn’t allow these processes to take place properly, resulting in plant burn.

Treatment of Neem Oil Damage

Now that you have understood the causes of neem oil plant burn, you must be curious to read about the treatment method. Unfortunately, there’s no method to undo the burn or bring the burnt leaves back to life.

However, you can save the entire plant from burning by changing your treatment method and pruning away the damaged plants. If you have recently sprayed concentrated neem oil and want to save your plant, you can rinse the plant thoroughly. Use a soap water solution to rinse the neem oil and then place the plant back; hopefully, there will be no burns.

Preventing Plants from Neem Oil Damage

Although there are no treatment methods for neem oil plant burn, there are certain preventive measures that can assist in saving the plants from such damage. Let’s discuss the following:

Using Diluted Neem Oil Solution

To use neem oil effectively as a natural pesticide, always use a diluted neem oil solution. You’d need water and liquid soap for this purpose. While water dilutes and reduces the strength of neem oil’s harsh chemicals, the liquid soap acts as an emulsifying agent. Emulsifiers mix oil and water properly (as the two chemicals are insoluble).

Add two tablespoons of neem oil and three teaspoons of liquid soap for one gallon of water. You can use regular dishwashing soap for this purpose. However, ensure that the detergent is mild and won’t harm your plants.

Use this solution after shaking well and spray it onto the plants instead of drenching your plants in the solution. This way, only harmful bugs and fungi will come in contact with the chemical, while the foliage will have space to breathe.

Spray the Neem Oil Solution During the Evening

As discussed in the causes above, neem oil plant burn is most prevalent when treating plants during the daytime. Always spray the neem oil solution as the sun sets to avoid extreme temperatures. The evening is perfect for treating plants with neem oil, as the sun’s harmful rays don’t interact with neem oil.

Treat the Plants with Neem Oil After at Least 4 Days

Treating the plants with neem oil every other day is a huge mistake. You can undo the neem oil damage, so you must be careful with your treatment procedure and schedule. Ideally, there should be a week’s gap between each treatment session.

The chemicals in the neem oil affect the bugs when first applied. However, gradually, the thin film that covers the foliage breaks down, and the oil clears away from the leaves. Hence, seven days between each treatment session is the best scenario.

If you have a heavy infestation and can’t wait for a week for your next treatment, decrease the seven-day gap to four days. Any earlier than four days can increase the chances of neem oil plant burn.

Spare Your Herbs from the Neem Oil Treatment

While neem oil is a highly potent and versatile chemical for treating plants from bug attacks, it’s prohibited for delicate foliage. Your herbs are the most delicate plants in your garden. Therefore, avoid treating them with neem oil, or else it can immediately result in neem oil damage.

Final Thoughts

Neem oil plant burn is a massive issue for new plant parents as the neem oil damage can’t be reduced or treated. Therefore, when treating plants with neem oil to scare away or kill sneaky bugs, always take care of the procedure.

Your neem oil solution, treatment schedule, and the time you treat your plants all significantly affect your neem oil treatment’s effectiveness. While you want to get rid of harmful bugs, you don’t want to burn the foliage or the entire plant. Hence, follow the guide above and keep your plant safe and alive. All the best!