Growing Cannabis Naturally with Neem

By James E. Kostrava
Published: November 17, 2017 | Last updated: April 23, 2021 12:04:37
Key Takeaways

​Discover how growers have captured the essence of robust plants from sub-Saharan Africa and transferred that biotechnology to their cannabis plants.

Source: Qpicimages/

Medicinal cannabis patients often say they love the effects of the medicine, but they don’t like how it burns their lungs when they smoke it. But it is not the pot that is burning their lungs, it is the heavy metals in the synthetic pesticides used to grow it.


To combat this, organic growers look for fertilizer and pesticide products that are approved for use in organic gardens by the Organic Materials Review Institute, such as neem products. Fruits, vegetables and medicines grown with the pure essence of neem contain no pesticide residues, and there is no need to flush plants before harvest because there is nothing to flush.

What is so Magical About Neem?

Neem trees are loaded with bioactive nutrients. Over the centuries, they have evolved to survive in the harshest climates on Earth, such as sub-Saharan Africa. You see these trees whenever you see an African lion safari on TV. You see the dry, desolate landscape of Africa, and then, in the middle of nowhere, a giant, lush, green neem tree.


Not only are they loaded with rich, bioactive nutrients, but when locusts come through and eat everything in sight, the only plants left are the neem trees because they contain a substance called azadirachtin that tastes bitter and smells awful. Azadirachtin does not poison insects like a synthetic pesticide might.

Instead, it triggers a stop-eating response so bugs starve to death. Neem is effective against many pests, including aphids, beetles, cockroaches, flies, fruit flies, fungal infections, grasshoppers, leaf miners, mosquitoes, moths, nematodes, snails, spider mites and thrips.

Bringing Neem to the Masses

In 2006, a PhD research scientist who spent his entire career at a global chemical company, and who literally wrote the book on chemical extraction, found a way to extract the pure essence of African neem trees. He was also able to make this concentrated liquid emulsifiable so it could mix well with regular water instead of oil.


He sprayed this pure essence of neem on plants and saw instant results. Weak plants became healthy, and healthy plants became even healthier. Stress from pests and diseases was greatly reduced, while yields increased like crazy. Crops grown with neem extract also stayed healthy longer after being picked.

Field trials on plants grown with the pure essence of neem have been conducted by several universities. At Saginaw Valley State University, tomato growers saw a 70% increase in cumulative yield mass, compared to untreated control, and on cherry tomatoes there was a 17% increase in fruit count, compared to untreated plants.


At Michigan State University, blueberries grown with neem outperformed the ones grown with chemical inputs in total percentage of marketable fruit, and organic apples were healthier and happier than those grown without neem. Finally, at Hillsdale College, greenhouse-grown strawberries saw a nine-fold increase in fruit count, compared to the untreated control.

Neem for Medicinal Cannabis Plants

With more people using medicinal cannabis, there is a greater need to grow plants organically, which is where neem products come in. World-renowned scientific experts such as Dr. Sanja Gupta and Dr. Mehmet Oz have boldly changed their positions on the use of medicinal cannabis and its many benefits. In Dr. Gupta’s two CNN specials, Weed and Weed 2, he provides solid research to make the case for cannabis as medicine.

More to the topic at hand, in Weed 2, Dr. Gupta quoted the Journal of Toxicology, whose authors stated that they found levels of pesticide residue in medicinal cannabis as high as 69.5%. Novice growers may give their plants a good flushing to remove any toxic pesticides, but while flushing may remove what is on the surface of the plant, it cannot remove what is in the fabric of the plant. This is why pesticide residue numbers can creep so high.

Since 2010, field trials on medicinal cannabis treated with pure essence of neem have been conducted in Michigan, Colorado, California, Oregon, New Mexico, Washington and Arizona, all with positive results. In Michigan, specific strain trials were conducted by a chemical technician at one of the state’s largest dispensaries.

The trial groups showed improved plant health and increased yields at an average of 55.6%, and as much as 82.7%. Here’s the yield increase on six strains of medicinal plants that were sprayed with the pure essence of neem:

  • Green Crack (DWC): 29.7%
  • Purple Afghani (DWC): 64.9%
  • Fire Bubba Kush (DWC): 47.5%
  • Master Kush (Soil): 61.4%
  • Critical Mass (Soil): 82.7%
  • Burmese Kush (Soil): 50.2%

When foliar feeding with pure neem essence, remember that less is more. You want to use the finest mist possible. This allows plants to breathe in the nutrients through their pores, creating a protective shield against environmental stresses.

In addition to weekly foliar feeding with pure neem extract, hydro growers like to add a small amount of it to their reservoirs to help build up the root system, and soil growers add a granular soil adjuvant made from the shucks of neem seeds after the essence has been extracted. Since it is granular, it needs to be applied just twice during the growing season: once at the beginning and once halfway through.

Award-winning Results

Commercial growers who grow with the pure essence of neem have gone on to win awards at various High Times Cannabis Cups. The Strongest Strain on Earth winner, Ghost Train Haze #1, was grown by Michigan’s King of Cannabis, the Leaf Doctor, who swears by neem products. His award-winning strain tested at 27.5% THC.

Doc Deadhead, a winner of four cannabis awards, says the pure essence of neem helps leaves communicate with roots, allowing for the full genetic potential of the strain. He also believes it to be a genetic booster.

“Pure neem extract increased my yields by 30-50%,” he says. “It completely controls all pest issues while preventing powdery mildew. At the same time, it increases potency—26.4% THC speaks for itself.” Doc Deadhead won the Second Place Medallion for his hash at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Flint, Michigan.

Professional growers often have to suit up with special protective gear before they apply synthetic plant nutrients and pesticides, and then they need to vacate the treated area for a period of time so they don’t poison themselves.

Luckily, they don’t have these same concerns when using pure, neem-based products because they are made from plants and nothing else. What could be better than using all-natural, organic products on anything you plan on ingesting?


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Written by James E. Kostrava | Founder

Profile Picture of James E. Kostrava

James E. Kostrava is a founding member of The OrganiLife Group. Kostrava has more than 36 years of experience in communications, marketing, and public relations. He gained valuable experience as communications leader for a biotechnology company in Michigan founded by dedicated research scientists that retired from a global chemical company.

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