Neem oil to the Rescue

Jasmine houseplant infected with scale treated with Neem oil and compost tea

Okay, a little back story before we get to the Neem oil….

Saved from the Compost pile

When I saved these two Jasmine plants, they were destined for the compost bin. The owner of them wanted the planters for a Christmas display.

These plants were in a greenhouse, infested by white fly. The gardener at the time “pruned” the living daylights out of these plants. Then they were taken to the staff office, to be forgotten. Until they needed the pots of course.

To get these things out of those fancy pots took three of us. I had both hands on the trunk and my feet on the pot. The other two pulled the pot off. You can see there is life to them in the picture. I put them in new pots and then gave the left one in the picture above to a friend and kept the other. My wife is used to me trying to save plants. When it slipped nicely into a corner of the kitchen, it was allowed to stay. I took the tree pots back the next day, so they literally sat bare root ball for a few days on a towel, until I could find pots big enough in December to fit them.

By January we had Flowers!

These were the only flowers to date. I think they were a kind of thank you from the plant for saving it. My friends plant went crazy with flowers as well about the same time. again, only once so far as well.

1 Year Later

I pass by this plant many times in a day, and I never noticed these little bugs. Not until I looked a little closer, and I knew.


This was totally my bad!

The importance of sanitizing your equipment and changing your clothes when you come home from work. Especially when you deal with living things at work and home.

The source, I think, of the scale was my pruning equipment. In Calgary, Oyster-shell scale runs rampant on the cotoneasters. I, of course, had been pruning cotoneasters all summer. I thought I had done a good job sanitizing my gear, but either way, there was only one thing to do.

Neem Oil to the Rescue!

I keep a few spray bottles of essential oils on the ready all year long. Peppermint is another one, but in this case neem oil is the only thing that will combat a full on scale infestation.

Neem oil is not an essential oil,

granted, it is a nut oil. One smell of a fresh bottle can tell you that. It’s nutty!

The recipe/formula that I use, and find works, is 1 teaspoon of neem oil and 1/2 teaspoon of casttile soap in about a litre of water.

I pretty much keep this ratio when I bump up to 5 gallons to spray a hedge as well.

Getting good help!

My little guy is always wanting to help with the plants and the worms and such. The beautiful thing about neem oil is that not only is it non toxic, it is a very common ingredient in body creams and lotions. It is beneficial to your hands. I basically pulled the plant out from it’s corner and gave Doc the bottle. The over spray i just wiped up after. My thought being that the adult male scale is a fly and the young can move around a bit so they could be on the wall and adjacent plants.

Special note here that this Jasmine is intertwined with a couple of spider plants. Though the Jasmin was covered in scale, the spider plants were left completely alone. Interesting…….

Multiple Neem oil applications

I, or rather Doc, sprayed it all over everyday, and then I changed the spray to a stream and got him to spray into the soil. I mixed in total, about 3 bottles (3 litres).

Compost Tea in February????

I thought while I’m at it, why not test out the compost tea system. Good thing I did because I had forgotten about a few issues that Was able to fix. I don’t normally run 2 pumps, but like I said, I was testing the system.

I gave all of our house plants a shot or two of worm compost tea. What IU had left over I poured down our kitchen sink. The microbes in the tea love eating organic matter. They are not fussy about the source either apparently, because they will help clean your drain pipes.

Compost Tea…What is it not good for?…….Salad dressing….just saying..

Almost right away I noticed a bit of new growth. I made sure to regularly water it as well.

After a week

The thing with scale is that the adult female has no useable legs. So, even after the neem oil has done it’s job, there is no rain to wash of the carcasses. This all happened in the winter so I couldn’t take it outside to hose it off either. I sat down for about 20 minutes and brushed off the most populated leaves and then hit her again with the neem oil.

About a month after the initial attack, there is a lot of new growth. The regular watering, and oncoming spring is helpful, but either way the infestation I think is at bay. I have noticed a couple of what I think are young scale on a couple of new leaves so I have hit it a couple of times again with the neem oil mixture. In a couple of weeks I will take it outside and hose it off. Stay tuned.

Wanna see scale up close?

Scale under the microscope