A natural measure for controlling pests, neem oil is an organic pest control remedy with many other benefits and uses.
Neem oil comes from the seeds of the evergreen Neem tree (Azadirachta indica), native to India, Burma, and Sri Lanka. The tree also grows in tropical climates throughout the world.
The leaves have a deep green color with serrated edges and a distinctive bitter taste and garlicky smell which naturally repels many pests.
If ingested, the various compounds of the tree will disrupt the life cycle of unwanted insects and destroy them.
Garden Benefits and Uses
Neem oil is a natural fungicide as well as an insecticide and is in a wide variety of garden and home products.
Its insecticidal and antifungal properties make it great for controlling multiple pests and plant diseases.
Now that you know what is neem oil, these are the main benefits and uses for plants:
- The treatment of fungal and bacterial diseases of plants. These include mildews, black spots, leaf spots, Anthracnose, blights, rusts, wilts, mold, and more.
- Used regularly throughout the year, the oil can control a multitude of pests in crops and plants. See the heading below on pest control.
Organic farmers use it regularly to protect food crops. This beneficial oil is also effective in limiting large swarms of mosquitoes and locusts.
Additionally, the nutrient-filled dry residue from crushed kernels of the Neem has widespread use as a compound of organic fertilizer.
Neem oil pesticide is often the choice for the organic gardener. It is effective against many types of destructive bugs and you can apply it in several ways.
The antifungal and antibacterial qualities can help to keep the garden ‘clean’ by eliminating mold and fungi. Regular spraying and swabbing around the house and garden will keep these under control.
A spray solution around plants and directly on leaves will also kill pests by inhibiting their feeding. It also acts by affecting their hormone system, thereby reducing the number and survival of their eggs.
The smell and taste are repugnant to most harmful critters and will repel them. Some insect pests that it works against include:
- Leaf-footed bugs
- Aphids (greenflies)
- Spider mites
- Lace bugs
- Some beetles
- Spotted lanternflies
- Tarnished plant bug
- Squash bugs
Studies indicate that many compounds can be found in neem oil, the principal one being azadirachtin. This element is toxic to pests, disrupting their growth and reproduction process.
Extensive tests have shown a very low level of toxicity in humans and animals. However, some slight toxicity has been shown in fish. Therefore, do not use it near ponds, rivers, and waterbeds.
You can use it right throughout the growing season, up until the day of harvest if you don’t mind the possible bitter aftertaste.
Neem oil insecticide controls bugs and pests that feed by sucking or chewing on plants but allows pollinators to continue their work. Therefore, it will not affect moths, butterflies, birds, bats, and bees.
Spiders and ladybugs that deal so effectively with flies and aphids are also unaffected by it unless sprayed directly on them.
How to Use Neem Oil on Plants
Although generally non-toxic, be careful when using. Some irritation may occur on sensitive skin and in the eyes.
Make a homemade neem oil spray by mixing 5 ml of the oil with 2 ml of organic liquid soap in 1 liter of water. However, getting the balance right in every instance can be tricky, so buying one ready-made may be your best bet.
For solutions spread on soil around edible plants, allow several days before picking. The bitter taste may seep into the produce, so it’s vital to wait a bit before harvesting.
Light protective clothing is also advisable before applying to plants. Also, avoid spraying near pregnant women, young children, and pets.
Neem oil dissipates in the air after a few days, more quickly in warm conditions, and applications need to be repeated at regular intervals.
Spraying in spring can target the eggs and larvae of pests.
What Types are Available?
Various sprays and liquid concentrates are sold online, at gardening stores, and other retail outlets.
Various mixes are offered along with pure concentrated cold-pressed oil for which only water must be added. Cold-pressed oil is 100% natural and unrefined.
You can also use powders and granules for various gardening and agricultural purposes.
Other Benefits of Neem Oil
- Applications can nourish the soil by reducing harmful nematodes but leaving earthworms unaffected.
- Sprays leave foliage glossy and healthy.
- Indoor plants, as well as fruits and vegetables in the garden, can benefit from Neem without damaging the balance of the ecosystem.
- It also works great for enclosed spaces like a greenhouse.
What Plants is it NOT Good For?
Generally, it is safe for use on all plants; however, different concentrations can have different effects. High doses can burn plant leaves. When buying, read the label carefully as it will list any restrictions.
Pets and Animals
Various grooming products for pets contain nourishing Neem oil. Additionally, farmers have experimented with using the product in animal feed and even in place of antibiotics.
As you can see, neem oil is good for the garden. As a result, it is widely used in the manufacture of many agricultural products. The benefits of using neem oil for plants are wide but especially so for the organic gardener.