GROWING NEEM FROM SEEDS
A native of India, neem is an extraordinarily hardy tree that thrives in ecosystems ranging from the Sahara Desert to the wet salty environment of the Florida Keys. These seeds come from plants growing in the Sahara so they’re tough even for neem — but they’re just as susceptible to pests related to overwatering: slugs (which are mollusks not insects) and several strains of root rot.
Neem seeds are only available for about 30 days after they are harvested, because their germination rate drops dramatically after that period. Therefore, the single most important thing you can do to ensure the success of these seeds is to PLANT THEM NOW! Like many tropical trees that thrive in regions where cold is not an issue — but voracious insects are — neem seeds are in a race against time the minute they ripen.
We ship seeds in sterile potting soil in case they sprout en route to their destination. For best results, have pots or a large flat waiting for their arrival so you can plant them as soon as possible. We soak them overnight in a weak solution of organic fertilizer before planting them.
Use premium potting soil (NOT top soil which is not sterile)
Avoid water-absorbing polymers.
Please don’t use soil or complost from your yard unless you’re an expert gardener and know exactly what you’re doing.
Fill a pot or flat with soil, then water very well. Place the neem seeds on top of the damp soil and water gently, then cover them with just enough soil so that the seed is no longer visible. Don’t water again until the soil is dry.
Protect the seeds from extreme rain so they don’t get beat into the soil.
As seeds begin to sprout, place them in a spot where they get morning but not afternoon sun until they’re growing well. They also prefer shelter from high winds until they have time to develop a good root system but they will handle full sun and heavy rain once they’re established.
Transplant into larger pots as they grow, since they’re like goldfish and will only get as big as their pots allow. We usually plant them in flats and then wait until they’re about four to six inches tall to move them into pots that are five inches deep.
They’re heavy feeders and must be fertilized regularly. We use a balanced organic fertilizer, but you may use a chemical product. Follow directions exactly — you will kill the tree if they get too many nutrients.
You will need to bring your seedlings inside before temperatures drop below about 35 degrees. Put them in your sunniest window and provide supplemental light in the evening. The new LED grow lights are inexpensive to purchase and to operated. Like many tropical plants, neem trees are day-length sensitive and will stop growing in short winter days.
Cut back on water while they’re not growing. With neem, yellow or wilting leaves are a sign of too much water.