The Benefits of Neem Oil for Your Plants - Backyard Boss
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The Benefits of Neem Oil for Your Plants

Gardening is one of the loveliest home hobbies to have but it can come with some stress— especially when your garden plants are host to some unwanted visitors and disease! Pests are a terrible nuisance and though there are mass-produced insecticides and fungicides available, their ingredients list leave little to desire.

Luckily, neem oil exists! Unlike chemical pesticides and synthetic pesticides, neem oil-based solutions are a fantastic natural pest management and prevention alternative that improves plant conditions without risking it. Neem oil doesn’t disturb beneficial insects like earthworms when it’s applied to both outdoor and indoor plants.

All You Need To Know About Neem Oil

Indian subcontinent’s neem tree provides us with valuable neem seed oil. It’s an incredibly powerful tree extract with a variety of uses and, when you look past its unfortunately pungent odor, you’ll find a gem of an oil.

Neem oil is rich in fatty acids, essential oils, antioxidants, Vitamin E, and Azadirachtin.  At its core, this can be used as one of the following:

  • Pest repellant;
  • Anti-fungal treatment
  • Anti-aging ingredient
  • Wound healing accelerant
  • Moisturizing agent

It’s often used in cosmetic products and skin care products, helping improve collagen production, wrinkles, dry skin, acne, boils, and hair moisture. It can also be used in skin disorder treatments like itchy skin and skin cancers.

Whether you have sensitive skin or not, when using this for any purpose, please always read the product label and dilute stronger solution before application to prevent burns, irritation, and allergic reaction.

neem leaves
Image Credit: lalithamba via Creative Commons

How To Use Neem Oil For Plants

The most active component in neem oil is Azadirachtin, an organic product that’s responsible for its anti-pest and anti-fungal properties.

Apart from having medicinal properties, azadirachtin is a slow-acting natural pesticide that works by having the entire plant absorb it into its structure. Through this, garden beneficial insects like earthworms are untouched while plant pests like aphids, worms, beetles, gnats, flies, loopers, and many more are eliminated!

You can choose between a store-bought neem oil-based pesticide or making a homemade solution.

Ready-made products are convenient and great for something quick and easy to use. However, you risk having unknown ingredients in it that could negatively affect your garden and home.

Mixing your own solution gives you full control over what your garden is exposed to. It requires minimal effort and allows you to adjust your formula according to what your outdoor and indoor plants need. Although it takes more time, we fully recommend this.

In either option, you’ll only need a small amount of neem oil, somewhere between 0.5% to 2% oil concentration in a single mixture.

Best Neem Oil For Plants

When creating our homemade pesticides, we experimented with various neem oil products. We stuck to raw or pure cold-pressed concentrates to ensure that azadirachtin is present.

Our go-to then became the Plantonix Organic Neem Bliss Pure Oil. This is a 16-ounce concentrate packed with azadirachtin.

We love this since it’s OMRI-Listed for organic use, incredibly potent, and lasts us a long time. It’s useful when we have a big pest problem but also very reliable for preventive measures.

Neem oil ingredients
Image Credits: Canva

DIY Neem Oil Recipes For Plants

Here are three neem oil recipes you can use to create your insecticide using only pure cold-pressed neem oil, warm water, mild liquid soap (as an emulsifier), and a spray or garden bottle.

That said, always finish your pesticide mixture with each use since it starts to break down only eight hours after being mixed.

Basic Neem Oil Insecticide Spray (Mild 0.5%)

In this basic DIY pesticide recipe, you’ll need to prepare:

  • 1 tsp neem oil
  • 1/4 gallon of water, preferably warm
  • 1/4 tsp gentle liquid soap
  • Spray bottle

Start by mixing your soap with your water to prepare for oil emulsification. Thoroughly mix in your oil and pour it into a spray bottle. Meticulously apply this on your plants, making sure to coat every inch of them, including the undersides of leaves to prevent hiding larvae from hatching. Do this weekly for pest treatment and every two weeks for pest prevention. Beneficial earthworms won’t be disturbed with neem oil application.

Neem Oil Insecticide Spray (Concentrated 2%)

If you have a serious pest issue and need a higher neem concentration, this 2% recipe should help:

  • 4 tsp neem oil
  • 1/4 gallon of water, preferably warm
  • 1 tsp gentle liquid soap
  • Spray bottle

Prepare your soap and water emulsifying mixture before slowly adding in the oil. When properly mixed, coat your garden with the diluted mixture and focus on affected plants. Wait a week before reapplying until the pests have gone. Do not use this recipe for prevention. Earthworm activity won’t be affected by this application.

Neem Oil Soil Drench

If your trouble is underground, this soil drench recipe should be more appropriate:

  • 1 tbsp neem oil
  • 1/4 gallon of water, preferably warm
  • 1 tsp gentle liquid soap
  • Spray bottle/ gardening can

Ready your soap and water base before blending in your neem oil. Add it to your spray bottle or gardening can and pour it into the soil around affected areas. If you’re handling an active problem, do this every week. When you’re in the prevention stage, scale back to once a month.

spraying the garden
Image Source: Oregon State University via Creative Commons

In Summary

Finally, you have a safe and organic way to effectively and efficiently control garden pests! The benefits of neem oil outweigh the pungent odor the leaves emit, especially when crushed. A word of caution, neem oil should never be consumed inappropriately as it is extremely potent and can cause severe toxicity. Having said that, using neem oil-based solutions to prevent and manage pests in your gardens can work wonders in helping you control parasites and insect infestations.

If you’re looking for organic and chemical-free ways to keep your garden safe while protecting children, pets, and other animals, neem oil is your safest bet! Neem-based formulas are wonderful and, although it takes more work to personally mix your pesticide, it’s an effort that pays off. Now that you know all of this, which recipe will you try out first? Comment it below along with any thoughts or questions you may have.