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Neem Oil Garden Benefits and Uses

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Neem Oil Garden Benefits and Uses

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), which is likely native to India, Burma, and Sri Lanka. The tree also grows in tropical climates throughout the world [1].

Additionally, neem leaves, which have a deep green color with serrated edges, a distinctive bitter taste, and garlicky smell, naturally repels many pests.

Neem oil acts as an insect repellent. It also reduces insect feeding. Moreover, it disrupts their hormones, stopping the growth cycle and making it difficult for them to lay eggs.

Neem Oil Uses for Plants

Neem oil is a natural fungicide as well as an insecticide and you will 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.

Now that you know what is neem oil, these are the main benefits and uses in the garden:

  • 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, neem oil can control a multitude of pests that destroy crops and plants.

Organic farmers use this product regularly to protect food crops from harmful farm critters. This beneficial oil is also effective in limiting large swarms of mosquitoes and locusts.

Additionally, the de-oiled residue (Neem Cake) from crushed neem kernels has widespread use as an organic fertilizer [2].

Controlling Pests

Neem oil pesticide is often the first choice for organic gardeners. It is effective against many types of destructive bugs and you can apply it in several ways.

The antifungal and antibacterial qualities can also 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 of garden pests and the survival of their eggs.

Additionally, the smell and taste are repugnant to most harmful critters and will repel them. Some insect pests that it works against include:

  • Caterpillars
  • Leaf-footed bugs
  • Leafhoppers
  • Aphids (greenflies)
  • Spider mites
  • Lace bugs
  • Fungus Gnats
  • Leaf miners
  • Some beetles
  • Grubs
  • Spotted lanternflies
  • Tarnished plant bug
  • Mealybugs
  • Whiteflies
  • Squash bugs
  • Grasshoppers
  • Worms

Ingredients

Various ingredients can be found in neem oil, one popular one being azadirachtin. This component is toxic to pests, disrupting their molting process.

Other active ingredients include picrin, nimbin, and sialin.

Toxicity

Studies have shown that neem oil is potentially toxic to children and adults if ingested [3]. Also, some slight toxicity has been shown in fish; therefore, do not use it near ponds, rivers, and waterbeds.

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.

Environmental Benefits

Neem oil insecticides control bugs and pests that feed by sucking or chewing on plants. Therefore, it will not affect butterflies and bees because these insects do not eat leaves.

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 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 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 a neem oil pesticide may be your best bet.

For soil drench and foliar spray use, apply every three weeks to keep pests under control.

Light protective clothing is also advisable before applying to plants. Also, avoid spraying near pregnant women, young children, and pets.

Additionally, do not use neem oil in hot weather as it will likely cause foliage burn.

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.

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 oil without damaging the balance of the ecosystem.
  • It also works well for enclosed spaces like a greenhouse.

What Plants is it NOT Good For?

Generally, neem oil is safe for use on all plants; however, different concentrations can have different effects. High doses can burn plant leaves. Therefore, read the label carefully as it will list any restrictions.

Pets and Animals

Various grooming products for pets contain nourishing neem oil. Additionally, experts have experimented with the use of neem leaf meal in broiler ration in place of antibiotics [4].

Takeaway

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 it for plants are wide but especially so for the organic gardener.

Image via commons.wikimedia.org

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

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