How to Grow Neem Tree from Seed

Neem tree is generally propagated from seeds. Read below to know how to grow neem tree from seed and how to germinate neem seeds in paper towel. Growing neem from seed is the most viable method of neem propagation. Viability of the neem seed remains for very short period hence it is recommended to use fully ripe yellow neem fruits to collect seeds.

The neem tree grown from the seed will not be the true copy of the parent plant, but that rooted from other methods, viz. from cuttings (growing neem tree from cuttings (growing neem tree from cuttings) and by layering will be the true clone of the parent plant.

Neem Seed Planting Time

Neem trees grow well in a tropical to subtropical climate. It can be grown in USDA hardiness zones (neem tree growing zones) 9 through 12. The best time to grow neem plant from seed is when the temperature is more than 20 °C (68 °F), which is best suited for germination of neem seed. If the temperature in your area is low, then plant and start your neem seeds indoors to germinate.

The neem seeds germinate quickly and reliably with a high germination rate. No wonder, the seed planting is the most common way to propagate a neem tree.

Neem tree can easily be propagated from seeds, provided the seeds are fresh. The neem seeds are short-lived, viable for a period of only 10–12 days from the date of collection [1,2].

Get Correct Seeds

I ordered Indian neem seeds from eBay; they appeared dry, quite old. I could not germinate any of these seeds. I tried to germinate the seeds with or without their shells, by soaking them from 1 to 3 days in cold as well as warm water, and also by putting them in damp kitchen towel. But none of the seeds could germinate even in 6 months.
Neem tree fruits for making seeds
Ripe Neem fruits for seeds
In order to successfully propagate neem from seed, note the following points:
  1. If collecting from a neem tree, collect the freshly fallen fruit or take some ripe fruits (yellow color) which are soft, not firm.
  2. Do not buy completely dry seeds, they will not germinate. Buy only recently harvested seeds.
  3. If you are importing neem seeds from India, Sri lanka, etc., chances are they will not germinate as they do not remain viable  as they become old by the time they reach to you. So always try to get viable seeds locally.

Planting Neem Seeds in Soil

  1. Neem seeds do not need any pre-treatment before planting. Take the fully ripe neem fruit and squeeze out the seed (remove the pulp) and use for planting.
  2. Fill a pot with a very good quality free-draining potting mix, plant the neem seed horizontally or pointed side down and cover it with half to one inch of the potting mix. Put the pot in a warm and bright place and keep the soil moist.
  3. Neem seeds will germinate within 2-4 weeks depending on the age of the seed and the temperature. The seeds need a temperature between 20 and 25 °C (68 and 77°F) to germinate well. The cooler the temperature, the longer the neem seed will take to germinate. I started a few neem seeds in Sydney, the temperature for most of the time was less than 20°C during the day, so I kept the seed pot indoors in a warm place. The seeds germinated successfully.
You can germinate more than one seed in the same pot and later carefully separate the seedlings and replant them. But whatever pot size you take, it should have several holes at the bottom to allow soil to drain excess water quickly.

The picture below shows 4 neem seedlings in the month of May, all could survive the winter.

Neem Seedlings grown in Sydney
4 Neem Seedlings grown in Sydney (May)

Germinating Seeds in a Paper Towel

Soak the seeds in water for a day. take a kitchen paper towel and place the seeds on it. Fold the paper to enclose the seeds inside, spray water on it and seal in a Ziploc bag or polythene bag. Place the bag in shade at a warm place. The seeds will be germinate in a few days. Plant the germinated neem seeds in free-draining soil.

Germinated neem seed for planting
Germinated Neem Seed in Paper Towel

Neem Seed Germination in Cold Climate

It becomes difficult to germinate neem seeds in cold climate, for example in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. The problem is the time of availability of fresh seeds from Queensland. The fresh seeds are available in the month of April when the winter is about to start in Sydney, so the challenge is to germinate seeds indoors during winter and to keep alive the seedlings till the next summer.

I tried 3-4 times to grow neem tree from seeds in Sydney, but failed either to germinate seeds or the seedlings soon died. Finally I could get fresh neem seeds after 6 days of their removal from the tree from Queensland, which I could germinate successfully. The weather became quite cold, so I had to put the pots indoors in a warm room for germination.

The real challenge was to keep seedlings alive till the next Spring. I relocated the seedlings from the heated room to the bathroom where they received bright light. Due to changing weather daily, I had to move the pots outdoor and indoor quite often.

Neem trees grown from seeds
4 Neem Plants grown from seeds
(After 8 months, Next January)

The conclusion, the old neem tree seeds do not germinate, similar to the seeds of sweet neem (Curry leaf seeds or mango seeds). The older the neem seed, more difficult to germinate it; also the lower the temperature, longer the time to germinate.

You can grow your neem plant in a pot (growing neem tree in pot (growing neem tree in pot) with proper care.

Videos on Growing Neem Tree

Growing neem tree from cuttings YouTube Video
How to grow neem tree from seeds YouTube Video
How to Grow neem tree in a pot Video
How to germinate neem seeds YouTube Video
Plants that grow from softwood cuttings
Simple method to grow plants from cuttings


1. Rajiv Rai (1996), To study the efficacy of different nursery raising techniques in neem (Azadirachta indica), Journal of Tropical Forestry 12 (4): 183–88.
2. Read MD & French, JH (eds) (1993), Genetic improvement of neem: strategy for the future, Proceedings of the International Consultation on Neem Improvement held at Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand, January 1993, Winrock International, Bangkok, Thailand.