Growing plants at home or in the garden, we do a lot to make them thrive and delight with their beauty every day. This is not always successful because sometimes pests thwarted our efforts by suddenly appearing.
But you can fight these plants’ enemies and prevent their invasion – for example, with neem oil!
What is this specification, and when and how to use it?
What is neem oil, and what is it used for?
Plants give us a lot from themselves, but they require proper care in return. They need the right amount of sunlight, water, nutrients, and temperature to grow correctly. This is within our control as growers. But sometimes, all our effort and dedication go in vain – when pests appear, the plant starts to get sick and sometimes even dies.
Pests can decimate not only garden crops – vegetable gardens or ornamental flowers – but also house plants and potted flowers. At home, they can appear even as a result of airing the rooms or “arrive” together with a newly purchased plant or with the soil we use for planting or replanting.
Fortunately, pest infestations can be prevented by using neem oil!
It is oil pressed from the seeds and leaves of the Indian honey plant (Azadirachta indica), a natural pesticide and antifungal.
Neem oil is a natural pesticide, a safe insecticide
There are various effects of pests, but they are always negative. The plant, overrun by uninvited guests, will grow abnormally, sometimes even dwarf, and almost always, there will be damage to the stems or leaves. If we can discover this problem fairly quickly, it may be enough to replace the soil and wash the plant.
In the later stages of “invasion,” chemicals may be necessary, not always safe for humans or pets. After all, children or four-legged friends will not necessarily stay away from a sick plant. Therefore, it is worth using a natural insecticide in your crops, namely neem oil.
Its active ingredient – azadirachtin – disrupts the feeding and reproductive abilities of certain groups of insects. These include aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, scale insects, mealybugs, and thrips. The pests do not die immediately on contact with azadirachtin but lose the ability to feed and reproduce, so their population slowly shrinks.
Additionally, neem oil exhibits antifungal properties and works well against gray mold and leaf spots. The active ingredient in neem oil has been classified as a safe pesticide in many European countries. Neem oil is safe for animals and pollinating insects and cannot harm the plant, so it can be confidently used for gardens and houseplants.
Neem oil – properties used versatilely!
Indian honey has been a unique plant used, for example, in Ayurvedic medicine to detoxify the body or as an antipyretic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Currently, this plant oil is a component of many cosmetics, ointments, and medicinal preparations and helps alleviate the symptoms of, among others, skin diseases (acne, eczema).
In addition to its insecticidal properties, neem oil is also an excellent choice for those who wonder what to use to shine the leaves of potted flowers. When used to wipe the leaves, neem oil makes them shine beautifully – they look fresh and healthy, and their juicy green color is well emphasized.
Application of neem oil to plants
Neem oil works systemically. That is, it is absorbed by the plant. Shortly after lubricating, the outer parts of the plant go into the “bloodstream,” which means that the juices reach all the leaves, stems, and roots. It is used prophylactically but also as a means to combat pests. Insects feeding on the plant take food from its juices – if azadirachtin circulates in them, insects begin to get sick, and, consequently, their numbers regularly decrease.
How to use neem oil for plants? First, dilute it with water and dishwashing liquid or gray liquid soap. This is necessary because the oil can not dissolve only in water. In the case of juice, it is best to choose a variant with the most natural composition. To prepare a solution, use about 5 ml of oil, a liter of water, and a few drops of liquid or soap.
The prepared neem oil solution should be regularly sprayed on the plant every 2-3 weeks or wiped on the leaves.
If you have any questions or concerns about using neem oil, we encourage you to contact our Strączkowscy garden center. If you have a problem with your plants, we will be happy to help – we will advise you on how to get rid of pests quickly and how to care for your plants to recover soon.
How to apply neem oil to plants
A spray preparation is made from neem oil. The ingredients needed are:
- 1 liter of lukewarm water, preferably boiled,
- 5 drops of neem oil,
- a few drops of mild detergent (or horticultural soap).
Mix the ingredients – soap or other detergents will make the oil dissolve in water. Pour the preparation into a sprayer and apply when it cools down.
Spraying with neem oil can be used every 10-15 days. The solution must be used within a few hours because it quickly loses its properties.
The solution can be used to wipe the leaves – this method will work better with scale insects, mealybugs, and spider mites that feed on the leaves of potted plants. Use a cotton swab or soft cloth soaked in the solution to wipe the leaves and remove the pests. You can also use an ear-tip to more easily remove spider mites in the corners of the leaves, for example.
Neem oil for plants – three yeses!
Neem oil is, of course, not the only effective pest control weapon available on the market. Still, we recommend it to our customers with a pure heart because of its economic value, effectiveness, and safety.
- Effectiveness of neem oil. It effectively repels pests and has a remarkable ability to inactivate them. It helps plants get rid of intruders and return to form when used regularly. In addition, it acts as a fungicide, so it cures some plant diseases and prevents them. It can be used in the garden and for potted plants (which also beautifully shine).
- Safety of neem oil. It is a natural preparation that does not devastate the environment: it does not contaminate soil and water and is not toxic – it does not harm animals and humans. There are no concerns about using it in a home where small children and animals such as dogs and cats live.
- Cost-effectiveness of neem oil. It is an inexpensive preparation. You can buy neem oil for as little as a dozen zlotys, and a single spray uses only a few milliliters of oil (dissolving it in water solution), which makes it highly efficient.
Neem oil in gardening
In areas where honey grows, its various parts are used to control pests and plant diseases, but also as fertilizer – here are used the residues from the production of oil (pomace) and young shoots and leaves, which are used for mulching. Powdered leaves are also used for spraying against pests. They enrich the substrate and eliminate soil pests and pathogenic fungi. In Polish conditions, we will not benefit from the benefits of the entire plant, but we can use neem oil for plants.
Neem oil for plants – effects
Neem oil has proven antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties – used in human medicine but equally valuable for protecting plants from disease. It also contains a substance called azadirachtin, which is a powerful and natural insecticide (pesticide).
It acts on insects and other pests that feed on plant leaves, so it is safe for pollinating insects such as bees and bumblebees. Adult butterflies will not be harmed, but leaf-eating caterpillars may be affected.
Neem oil for plants has complex effects. It repels pests to a certain extent, but the main adverse effect is the mentioned azadirachtin. This substance interferes with the feeding abilities of problems (the so-called antifeedant), which lose the opportunity to feed and die.
In addition, it affects the hormonal system of insects, weakens their reproductive capacity, and prevents larvae from hatching eggs or further transformation. In some cases, it also clogs the stomata of pests and suffocates them.
What pests and plant diseases do neem oil work on?
The pesticide found in neem oil acts on about 300 species of insects. It fights bugs, leaf miners, and some Hymenoptera, among others. In practice, it is worth using it against such pests of garden and house plants as:
- scale insects,
- potato cyst nematodes.
It is also effective against potato beetle.
Various active ingredients in the oil also have antifungal properties. In the case of plants, they help fight such diseases as:
- powdery mildew,
- leaf spot,
- gray mold,
What to watch out for when applying neem oil to plants
There are a few things to look out for if you want your spray to be safe for plants and effective in controlling pests:
- Neem oil is a natural remedy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t harm plants. Therefore, you need to follow the given proportions – too much concentration can burn the leaves!
- Before applying it to the entire plant, do a test on a few leaves. If after a day you do not notice any alarming symptoms, you can safely use the oil (this applies especially to young plants and delicate potted plants).
- In the garden or on the balcony do not spray neem oil when the sun shines strongly or during hot weather. If the summer is sunny and warm – spray in the evening.
- If in the garden you have decided on biological pest control and introduced beneficial mites (such as beneficial) to fight pests, do not use neem oil (they can be introduced about a week after applying the oil).
- Undiluted oil applied directly to the skin or in contact with the eyes or mucous membranes can cause irritation.
- In addition, neem oil itself must be protected from the sun (e.g. kept in a locked cabinet) and high temperatures and humidity. It is also worth knowing that neem oil solidifies already at a temperature of 23°C. In order for it to regain its liquid form, it is enough to warm it up gently (preferably at a temperature no higher than 35°C).
- Make sure the oil is cold-pressed and not refined.