24 Amazing Benefits and Uses of Neem Oil for Plants
When searching for a safe and effective product to control insects and disease in a lawn and garden, look no further than neem oil. It’s a powerful organic solution to most difficult-to-manage infestations.
What is neem oil? Neem oil is a natural byproduct of the neem tree. The oil is harvested from the trees’ seeds and leaves. Let’s take a look at the some of the top neem oil benefits and uses in the garden.
It's Safe to Use Around Pets & Wildlife
Synthetic pesticides that work on contact often build up in the surrounding environment, leaving toxic residue behind that can harm and even kill pets and other animals in the area.
Neem oil, on the other hand, is biodegradable and non-toxic. It’s safe for birds, pets, fish, livestock or other area wildlife when used. Safer® Brand’s neem pesticide products also degrade quickly during rainfall and under ultraviolet rays.
It's Organic & Biodegradable
Neem oil is a natural derivative of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), an evergreen variety native to India. This makes it organic and biodegradable. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency has found neem oil to have “…no unreasonable adverse effects,” making it safe for the U.S. population and the environment.
It Doesn't Create Death Zones as Other Insecticides Do
Neem oil insecticide does not create a dead zone around treated plants, trees or shrubs like other synthetic insecticides can. It only targets leaf-sucking and chewing insects.
Synthetic pesticides creep away from the sprayed areas to create “death zones” that can kill beneficial insects as well as other animals.
You Can Use it to Control Insects at All Stages of Development
Neem oil kills insects at all stages of development — adult, larvae and egg. The active chemical in neem oil, azadirachtin, gets rid of insects in a few different ways:
- As an antifeedant
- As a hormone disruptor
- Via smothering
Neem Oil Effectively Controls Hundreds of Insects
Neem oil is an effective pesticide that gets rid of over 200 species of insects, not just a few. Some of the most common include:
- Leaf hoppers
- White flies
Neem Oil Insecticides are Effective at Controlling Nemotodes
Nematodes are difficult to control and can be very destructive to plants. Certain extracts from neem kernels have shown to provide good control over root-knot nematodes — one of the most destructive kinds. Neem oil works by preventing larvae from hatching.
Beneficial Earthworms Won't Be Harmed
While traditional chemical pesticides can harm earthworms, neem oil has the opposite effect by encouraging earthworm activity.
Why is this important? Earthworms are beneficial to garden soil. As they tunnel though the dirt, they create pathways that allow air and rain water to reach plant roots. These little guys also leave behind excrement, known as casts, that contain nutrients for the soil, including potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous. When earthworms die, their decaying bodies also help fertilize the soil.
IT CAN BE USED AS A DORMANT-SEASON APPLICATION OR A FOLIAR SPRAY.
Since neem oil can kill insects at varying stages, you can use it as a dormant-season application to kill overwinter pests and eggs or as a foliar spray to repel and kill insects.
Use neem oil as a dormant oil spray to control a number of insects, including:
- Tent caterpillars, leaf rollers and other caterpillar eggs that remain on plant leaves during winter
- Aphids that cause leaf curling the following spring
- Mites that overwinter on plant leaves
- Scale insects
You can also use neem oil as foliar spray during the growing season to control common pests, such as:
- Spider mites
You can Control Lawn Grubs With Neem Oil
Lawn grubs are the larval stage of Japanese beetles, and they can be very destructive to your lawn. They tunnel under turf and nibble on grass roots. You’ll notice large brown or bare spots in areas of high grub activity.
Neem oil also works to control Japanese beetles by preventing them from laying eggs that become destructive larvae. It also inhibits grub growth and repels them from the grass roots. For best results, spray the lawn with neem oil at night and reapply after rainfall.
Neem Cakes Double as a Good Fertilizer and an Effective Pesticide
A neem cake is made from organic manure, a byproduct of cold-pressed neem fruit and kernels. Neem cakes are extra special because they act as both a pesticide and a fertilizer.
They fertilize the soil by extending the availability of nitrogen and help control nematodes, white ants, and grubs.
You can Safely Use it on Your Indoor Plants
Neem oil is safe to use indoors to prevent pests and disease. Just spray the leaves to kill pests without having the worry about children or household pets.
Neem is Safe for Greenhouse Use
The conditions in a greenhouse provide the perfect environment for mites, aphids, scale insects and whiteflies. Don’t give these pests a chance! Use Safer® Brand’s neem oil products to prevent these insects from destroying your plants.
Neem Oil is a Great Fungicide
Use neem oil to prevent or even kill fungus on your plants. Use neem oil for common fungal diseases, including:
- Powdery mildew
- Black spot
- Leaf spot
- Tip blight
To prevent fungi, spray susceptible plants every seven to 14 days until the fungus is no longer a threat. To kill fungi, spray plants once a week until the fungi clears up, and then spray every two weeks to keep it from coming back.
It Also Works as a Batericide
Neem oil can kill fire blight, a bacterial disease that causes the leaves of plants to wilt and appear as though they have been burned.
To prevent fire blight, you must spray trees while dormant. The bacterium that causes fire blight cankers overwinter on branches, twigs and trunks of trees.
Neem Oil Can Protect Your Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes
Whether you have an orchard or just a few fruit trees in your backyard, you can control the pests that ruin your crop with neem oil. Apple trees are often plagued with worms, the two most common being the coddling moth and the meal worm. These pests enter the apples and make them unfit to eat.
To keep your fruit trees and berry bushes insect free, spray your plants and trees early — before blossoming, then again when the petals drop, and every two weeks after to control these pests.
Common fruit-tree insect that neem oil will protect against include:
- Wooly apply aphids
- Rose leafhoppers
- Tarnished plant bug
Berries are often plagued by fungal diseases that can be treated with neem oil, including:
- Powdery mildew
- Fire blight
- Verticillium wilt
- Orange rust
Protect Your Veggies From Pests and Fungus
Neem oil has a dual purpose in the vegetable garden as both a pesticide and a fungicide. It works on arthropod pests that often eat your vegetables, including tomato hornworms, corn earworm, aphids and whiteflies.
In addition, neem oil also controls common fungi that grow on vegetable plants, including:
- Leaf spots
- Stem rots
Spray vegetable plants in the evening and again in the morning. Spraying at these times helps to avoid harming beneficial insects, such as bees, which help pollinate vegetable plants.
Neem Oil Can Protect Your Nut Trees and Other Ornamental Trees
Fall webworms, similar to tent caterpillars, are common pests of numerous nut trees, such as walnut and pecan trees. These pests can ruin the leaves, fruits and nuts of host trees. Fall webworms build silky nests in the crotches of tree branches.
In order to eliminate worms and caterpillars on trees, the neem oil must come in contact with the pest when spraying.
Neem Oil Keeps the Mosquitos Away
Neem oil sprays can also keep gardening time mosquito free. While neem oil insecticides shouldn’t be applied to skin because of inert ingredients, a person can apply straight neem oil if so desired.
Neem Protects Herbs
The same pests and fungi that plague a vegetable garden can also attack herb plantings. These pests include:
- Leaf miners
- Spider mites
- Gray mold
Spray neem oil on herbs, just as any other plant. Some herbs may be tenderer than others, especially those with fuzzy or hairy leaves, so spray a small area first to make sure they can tolerate the neem oil.
Neem Comes in a Variety of Formulas
Neem oil comes in a variety of formulas and concentrations. Neem oil is sometimes mixed with insecticidal soap to help boost the neem oil’s pest-killing power.
Find neem products in other forms, including:
- Wettable powders
- Emulsifiable concentrates
Insects Don't Become Resistant to Neem Oil
Insects do not become immune to neem oil pesticides, as they can with other types of pesticides. This means that neem oil remains effective, even after repeated applications.
Neem Doesn't Pollute Water
Because neem oil is biodegradable and non-toxic, it will not pollute ground water or cause toxic runoff into streams and nearby bodies of water.
Easy to Apply and can be Used up Until the Day of Harvest
No matter what concentration of neem oil you use, all you need to do is mix it with water and spray it directly on plant leaves. Follow the label’s directions to make sure you are mixing the right proportions of oil and water.
Many pesticides can’t be used during certain stages of plant growth; however, neem oil can be used throughout the planting season up until the day of harvest so your plants are never without protection.
Neem Oil Used Appropriately Won't Harm Bees, Butterflies and Ladybugs
Pollinators are becoming rare. Chemical pesticides inhibit the bees’ ability to gather food, which ultimately leads to their death. However, neem oil when used in smaller quantities won’t harm medium to large hives or the honey bees so you can keep your pollinators and plants alive.
Since neem oil only targets bugs who chew on leaves, neem oil insecticides are safe to use around butterflies, ladybugs, and most other beneficial insects.
Neem Oil for Plants: Products to Get the Job Done
While simple neem oil has many benefits outside of just protecting a garden, in order to give your customer’s plant the best chance of keeping pests away, healing from disease and preventing fungus Safer® Brand has formulated many different organic neem oil insecticide products.
- Safer® Brand Neem Oil Insecticide with Neem Oil Concentrate contains clarified hydrophobic extract of neem oil that makes a more effective product with a longer shelf life and less phytotoxicity compared to crude neem oil.
- Safer® Brand End ALL™ With Neem Oil RTU is a ready-to-use product that treats up to 700 square feet. Safer® Brand BioNEEM® Insecticide With Neem Oil Concentrate is perfect for protecting ornamental plants, shrubs and flowers.
- Safer® Brand Neem Oil RTU helps in the battle against pest and fungal problems thanks to clarified hydrophobic extract of neem oil. Use it to protect flowers, fruits, houseplants, nuts, ornamental trees, roses, shrubs and vegetables.