Neem oil is a great way to get rid of sap sucking insects from citrus trees. This can include aphids, mites, thrips and scale. These bugs are most likely to affect the new growth on your citrus tree. They will often attack in spring and fall when the weather is mild. Treat these bugs with Neem oil in the morning to avoid burning the leaves.
Neem oil is a naturally derived oil from the neem tree. It is sold as a concentrate that can be diluted at home and sprayed on your citrus. This will quickly deal with insects that are attacking your plants without harming pets, beneficial insects like bees or people.
Neem oil has a strong smell and can even be sprayed around the base of your tree to stop mice and rats from chewing on the stem.
This article will explore when to spray neem on citrus trees. This will include the best time of day, the season and where you should aim your spray.
When to spray neem oil on citrus trees
Here are my top tips for when you should be spraying neem oil on citrus trees.
Spray Neem oil when you see sap sucking insects
Sap sucking insects are common on citrus trees. They come out in spring and fall but can still be hanging around on your tree during mild winters and cooler summers. Insects such as green and black aphids are common on the new growth.
Scale insects can find their way onto the stems and leaf joints of your citrus tree and will sit there sucking the sap from the leaves. Over time this can cause damage to the plant, causing the leaves to wilt and turn yellow.
If you see any of these common bugs as well as bronze orange bugs, thrips and mites they can all be treated with neem oil.
Spray Neem oil in the morning or evening
It is always best to spray citrus plants with neem oil in the morning or evening. This will avoid the hottest part of the day. Neem oil can burn the leaves if the weather and sun is too hot. Spraying on an overcast day, before or after the sun arrives is the best way to avoid this problem.
Spray citrus with Neem oil in the spring and fall
Citrus trees are most likely to be attacked by sap sucking insects when the weather is mild. This means that they usually arrive when the weather starts to warm in spring and their eggs hatch. They can also still hang around in fall when the hot summer weather has passed.
Bronze orange bugs were a problem for me this year in spring and took 2-3 applications of neem oil to deal with them. There were 50 or more bronze orange bugs on my orange tree which were treated with neem oil and disappeared in a few weeks.
Aphids have arrived on my orange tree this fall. These black aphids are attacking the new growth but were treated with a spray of neem oil.
I always have a bottle of neem oil mixed up and ready to use on my plants in spring and fall. I can grab it out of my cupboard and treat the problem as soon as I see it. This means that the bugs will not increase their population too rapidly making it more difficult to treat.
Repeat if the bugs are still there
Neem oil may need to be applied more than once to your citrus trees to deal with the bug problem. Many sap sucking insects are tiny so can hide under leaves and in leaf joints. For the neem oil to work it needs to be sprayed on the bugs if you can.
To get all of the bugs you may need to repeat the process, spraying the tree more than once. I like to wait 3-4 days before spraying my plant again, and then wait another week before applying the third spray.
It usually only takes 1-3 applications of neem oil to deal with the sap sucking insects if you do a thorough job.
Spray neem oil after rain
It is important to spray neem oil on your tree after rain when the leaves and stems have dried off. Applying the neem oil when the leaves are still wet often means that the oil will just drip straight off before treating the bugs.
I find that it is best to wait until the next morning and then treat the tree with neem oil. That way you can treat the insects without wasting the neem oil.
Where to aim the neem oil spray
It is important when applying neem oil spray to your plants that you cover the affected leaves and stems completely. Aim the spray on the underside of leaves, on the top of leaves, on new growth on stems and anywhere you see the bugs.
Aphids tend to gather around the leaf veins while bronze orange bugs will happily sit on the stems to suck the sap. Scale insects will usually sit in the joint where the leaf meets the stem.
Scale are harder to treat than most other insects. They form a hard coating or scale over the top of their bodies which makes it harder for the neem oil to get to them. Scale will usually need to be sprayed at least twice to treat them completely.
When to Spray Neem Oil on Citrus Trees | Summary
Neem oil can be sprayed on citrus trees in the early morning or evening when you see sap sucking insects attacking. This could be bronze orange bugs, aphids, scale, thrips or mites. Spray the entire area of the tree affected by the bugs and coat them well. You may need to repeat this process again in a few days but Neem oil will quickly and naturally treat the problem.
I like to keep a bottle of neem oil mixed up ready to go in my cupboard to treat any insects on my citrus tree. Look out for them in spring and fall when the weather is mild but still warm.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.