Can You Spray Cactus with Neem Oil?

Neem oil is used on cactus plants to plants to present pest infestations. It is sometimes directly sprayed onto the cactus plant, or the soil is drenched.

Sometimes, the entire plant is soaked in neem oil. However, neem oil can be detrimental to the cactus plant in some conditions. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to spray neem oil on a cactus plant.

What Is Neem Oil?

As the name implies, neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree native to India. The oil is yellow or brown, while the odor resembles sulfur or garlic. Gardeners use neem oil because it can kill pests and repel insects.

Azadirachtin is the most important compound in neem oil. It was first used in India in 1928 to eliminate desert locusts. Since then, it has been the go-to compound to prevent pest procreation.

What Does Neem Oil Do

Neem oil suppresses the pests’ appetite. What’s more, it disrupts their bodily functions when they ingest the treated plant.

It also disrupts egg formation, affects their protective covering, blocks airways, and eventually kills the pests.

Moreover, it suffocates the pests. The oil content blocks their natural airways, and they are suffocated to death.

It also destroys the waxy coating on the bodies of some pests, such as scales. Neem oil is the perfect remedy against pests like mealybugs and spider mites.

It destroys the powdery mildew they hide under, preventing nematode larvae from hatching.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Spray Neem Oil on a Cactus Plant

Direct Spraying

First, prepare a mixture with one gallon of water, three tablespoons of neem extract, and five drops of liquid soap.

Transfer the concoction to a spray bottle and shake well. Start spraying the suspension onto your cactus plant, and pay attention to the stem and the nooks.

Pests like hiding in hard-to-reach areas.

Shake before spraying, as the neem extract doesn’t mix well with water and settles at the bottom of the container.

After applying the mixture to your plant, leave it in a shaded area, allowing it to absorb the concoction.

Drenching the Soil

Use the same mixture discussed in the previous section, and instead of a spray bottle, pour it into a watering can.

Mix it aggressively to ensure consistency. Then, pour the solution directly onto the soil you’ve planted your cactus plant in.

Only pour some of it at a time. Wait a few minutes before the first batch flows through the drain holes at the bottom of the flowering pot.

Keep the plant cool for the roots to absorb the neem oil. Don’t place the plant under direct sunlight as it will dry the soil, completely defeating the purpose.

Deep Soaking

Fill a plastic water tub with the neem oil mixture as mentioned above. Put on long latex gloves and soak your potted cactus in the mixture.

Allow the plant to sit in the mixture for five minutes. Don’t soak the plant for more than five minutes, as over-exposure will affect your plant’s health.

After a few minutes, you will see pests and insects floating on the surface, indicating intoxication.

What Is the Best Time to Apply Neem Oil?

The best time to apply neem oil to the cactus plant is after sundown. After sundown, the temperatures are low, and the plant will have sufficient time to soak the mixture.

Furthermore, the solution won’t evaporate the same way it would evaporate during the day. Both soaking and spraying activities can happen separately or simultaneously. It depends on your plant’s current condition. For example, neem oil can be used for preventive purposes every three to four weeks.

However, if pest infestation has occurred, you should use neem oil at least once a week to eliminate pests and protect your plant.

When using a neem oil mixture, testing it on a smaller area for phytotoxicity is better. It also gives you an idea of the concentration and what must be changed to improve the concoction.

When to Avoid Using Neem Oil on Cactus Plants

During Extreme Temperatures

It is worth noting that neem extract is pure oil. In extremely cold temperatures, it will freeze, and in hot temperatures, it will burn.

In either of the two scenarios, neem oil will cause frost damage, or it will cause burns. Using neem oil in extreme temperatures can also result in root rot or burned stems.

On Cacti Seedlings

A seedling is weak and has fragile roots and stems. The baby plant cannot handle chemical exposure.

Neem oil can damage the roots and stems, eventually killing the plant. You must wait until the cactus develops a stronger epidermis and rigid spines. Only after they have matured can they handle neem treatments.

Newly Repotted Cacti

Newly repotted cacti are less able to handle stress, and exposure to neem oil isn’t the ideal thing to do.

Sometimes, roots break during the repotting process, and watering damaged roots can result in rotting. Therefore, it is better to refrain from watering the cactus or treating them until their roots have recovered.

Similarly, allow the roots to regenerate before pesticides because stressed cacti cannot sustain chemical contact.

Near Beehives and Ponds

Neem oil isn’t ideal for bees and fish. While you treat your cactus with neem oil, some mixtures can flow into the ponds or get sprayed onto beehives.

While it is less likely to kill the fish and the bees, its odor is something they don’t necessarily welcome, so it’s better to be careful.

During Mid-Day

During the summer, the hot midday sun heats the oil, resulting in burns. Moreover, beneficial insects are active at this time and can be exposed to azadirachtin.

Burning can result in brittle roots, while the fumes from evaporating neem extract are bad for insects that are beneficial for the plant.

Can You Use Neem Oil on Other Plants

Yes! You can use neem oil on other plants, especially with big smooth leaves. These plants include herbs and vegetables, as the extract can easily seep through their surfaces.

However, plants with tender fuzzy leaves are sensitive. Therefore, testing the mixture for phytotoxicity before applying the neem oil mixture is better.

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Final Word

Pests are common in cacti and succulents. These crawlers can damage your plant’s roots and eventually kill the plant. While several insecticides and pesticides are available in garden stores and online, not all are trustworthy.

Neem oil extract offers a 100% natural to all the chemical products in the physical and virtual marketplace. However, when treating your plant with neem extract, it is vital to exercise caution. Don’t overexpose your plant to the neem oil mixture, don’t do it during the day, and test for phytotoxicity beforehand. By doing so, you will keep your cactus pest free.

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