Neem oil, a natural remedy for controlling certain pests, is an organic pest control solution with many other benefits and uses.
Neem oil comes from the seeds of the evergreen Neem tree (Azadirachta indica). This tree is likely native to Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent. However, it grows in tropical climates throughout the world .
Neem oil reduces insect feeding. It also disrupts their hormones, stopping the growth cycle and making it difficult for them to lay eggs.
Neem leaves also naturally repel many pests. The leaves have a deep green color with serrated edges, a distinctive bitter taste, and a garlicky smell.
Neem Oil Uses for Plants
Neem oil is a natural fungicide as well as an insecticide, and you may find it in a wide variety of garden and home products.
Its insecticidal and antifungal properties make it great for controlling multiple pests and plant diseases. Additionally, the de-oiled residue (neem cake) from crushed neem kernels has widespread use as an organic fertilizer .
Now that you know what neem oil is, below are the main benefits and uses for it in the garden.
Treatment of Bacterial and Fungal Disease Issues
Use it for the treatment of fungal and bacterial diseases of plants.
The antifungal and antibacterial qualities of neem oil can help keep the garden ‘clean’ by reducing or eliminating mildews, black spots, leaf spots, Anthracnose, fire blight, rust, mold, and more.
Regular spraying of plants in and around the garden will help keep these problems under control.
Used regularly throughout the year, neem oil can control a multitude of pests that destroy crops and plants.
Neem oil pesticides are often the first choice for organic gardeners. It is effective against many types of destructive bugs and pests, and you can apply it in several ways.
A spray solution around plants and directly on leaves will also kill some pests by inhibiting their feeding. It also acts by affecting their hormone system, thereby reducing the number of garden pests and the survival of their eggs.
The smell and taste are repugnant to most harmful critters and will repel them. Some garden pests that neem oil works against include:
- Leaf-footed bugs
- Aphids (greenflies)
- Spider mites
- Lace bugs
- Fungus Gnats
- Leaf miners
- Some beetles
- Spotted lanternflies
- Tarnished plant bug
- Squash bugs
Because it works as a systemic insecticide when applied to the soil, neem oil acts as a fertilizer, thereby increasing the plant’s immunity. It also improves soil quality.
Besides, neem cakes are a great NPK fertilizer for your garden.
Other Garden Benefits of Neem Oil
- Moderate applications can nourish the soil by reducing harmful nematodes while leaving earthworms unaffected.
- Sprays leave foliage healthy and looking glossy.
- Indoor plants, as well as fruits and vegetables in the outdoor garden, can benefit from neem oil without damaging the balance of the ecosystem.
- It also works well for enclosed spaces like a greenhouse.
How to Use Neem Oil for Gardening
Be careful when using it, as some irritation may occur on sensitive skin and in the eyes.
Make a homemade neem oil spray by combining 5 ml of neem oil, 2 ml of organic liquid soap, and 1 liter of water. Shake well and spray all plant surfaces.
Alternatively, purchase a neem oil concentrate online or at your local garden center.
For soil drench and foliar spray use, apply every three weeks to keep pests under control.
Light protective clothing is also advisable before applying it to plants. Also, avoid spraying near pregnant women, young children, and pets.
Additionally, do not use neem oil pesticide in hot weather, as it will likely cause foliage burn. Spraying in the spring and other suitable times throughout the year can target the eggs and larvae of various pests.
Various ingredients can be found in neem oil, one popular one being azadirachtin. This component is toxic to some pests, disrupting their molting process.
Other active ingredients include picrin, nimbin, and sialin.
What Plants Not to Use It on
Generally, neem oil is safe for use on most plants. However, do not use it on herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, and cilantro.
Also, do not spray neem oil onto delicate plants like lettuce, spinach, and arugula. It can cause leaf burns.
In general, high doses can burn plant leaves, so read the label carefully as it will list any restrictions.
Neem oil insecticides control bugs and pests that feed by sucking or chewing on plant leaves. Therefore, it will not affect butterflies and bees because these insects do not eat leaves.
However, do not spray on blossoms or flowers that these pollinators might land on.
Wasps and ladybugs that deal so effectively with aphids and other small insect pests are also unaffected by it unless sprayed directly on them.
Pets and Animals
It is considered safe for cats or dogs when used correctly. Various grooming products for pets contain nourishing neem oil.
Additionally, experts have experimented with the use of neem leaf meal in broiler rations in place of antibiotics .
However, some slight toxicity has been shown in fish, so do not use it near ponds, rivers, or waterbeds.
Studies have shown that neem oil is potentially toxic to children and adults if ingested .
However, for gardening purposes, you can use it right throughout the growing season, up until the day of harvest. Just be sure to wash your produce properly.
Where to Buy Neem Oil for Plants
As you can see, neem oil is good for the garden in many ways. As a result, it is widely used in many agricultural products. The benefits of using it on plants are wide, but especially so for the organic gardener.