How to Grow Neem Trees

Overview

If you live in a hot, dry climate, you can grow a neem tree outdoors. Even if you don't, you can grow one as a houseplant. Used for centuries in India as a medicinal plant, neem (Azadirachta indica) is a survivor plant that lives in areas where the rains are few and the temperatures often top 100 degrees F. Much of the plant is used in medicines---this tree is said to help with inflammations, ulcers, malaria, fungal diseases, viruses and even cancer, among many other claims. Ayurvedic health practitioners most commonly use the leaf in medicinal products they make from neem.

Step 1

Fill the nursery pot or flat to within 1 inch of the top with a good quality potting mix, and then water it well.

Step 2

Scatter neem seeds on top of the moist soil and then cover them with at least 1/2 inch of potting soil. Water again and then keep your pot in a warm, sunny place.

Step 3

Water and fertilize young neem trees once each week by mixing a half-strength solution of fish emulsion with water.

Step 4

Transplant your neem tree to an outdoor area or larger pot when it is 6 to 8 inches tall. For pots, use the same potting soil you used for starting the seeds; for outdoor planting, dig in one shovelful of compost and mix it with the soil in a well-draining location that gets direct sun most of the day.

Step 5

Grow a neem tree as a houseplant in a large pot if you feel your summer temperatures are too low. If your summer temperatures and other conditions are suitable for neem, you can keep your tree outside in the summer and then bring it inside in the winter.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not allow neem trees to stand in water: Good drainage is essential for their success. If you want to use any part of the neem tree for medicinal purposes, first talk to your doctor or other qualified health care practitioner. Always use caution when using alternative medicines if you are pregnant or nursing.

Things You'll Need

  • Neem seeds
  • Potting mix
  • Nursery pot or flat
  • Fish emulsion
  • Water
  • Large pot with drainage hole
  • Sunny environment

References

  • Discover neem: Research Report
  • How to grow neem
  • Neem leaf extract

Who Can Help

  • Seed and plant source
Keywords: neem tree, Ayurvedic medicine, gardening India

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.