Spring has finally arrived, the weather is amazing, gardening outside is a joy, and the aphids just arrived by the thousands. Learn how neem oil for organic gardening can make a difference.
While setting everything ablaze is one option, what we really want is a safe, non-toxic pesticide to use. If you’re looking for an organic alternative to use in your garden that is also truly effective it can sometimes be a challenge. You’ll want ingredients that aren’t harmful to you if you’re growing your own food, ingredients that aren’t harmful to beneficial insects, wildlife, and pets, and ingredients that aren’t harmful to the environment. That can sometimes seem like a tall order, albeit a noble one.
Luckily, as more and more people become aware of what they’re consuming, including how their food is grown, the more research that is done and the more options that become available for consumers and gardeners.
One safe, non-toxic option is Neem Oil for organic gardening and pest control.
What is neem oil?
Neem Oil comes from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) which is native to the Indian subcontinent. The seeds that grow on the tree are pressed for Neem Oil. Neem Oil has been used for medicinal purposes for the past 5000+ years. It’s antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.
Neem Oil is safe. I’ve even used toothpaste with Neem in it. It was one of the most disgusting things I ever tasted, and the association I have with it when it comes to bug removal didn’t help much either. All that to say this – one, don’t lick your hands when you’re spraying your garden with Neem (actually, don’t lick your hands period if you’re out in the garden), and two, Neem is safe to use in your garden. It’s the most effective all-in-one spray that I personally use. It’s my go-to.
What does neem oil prevent?
Neem Oil will help keep your garden safe. Not only does it work as an insecticide, but it also works as a fungicide. Neem Oil is a great defensive plan for your garden to have to prevent it from being attacked. If you’re growing your own fruit and vegetables it will help provide you with organic, healthy, and fresh produce. Neem Oil is non-toxic, organic, and biodegradable.
Neem Oil as an insecticide helps control the following:
- Spider mites
- Leaf Hoppers
- Cabbage Worms
- Leaf Rollers
- Leaf Miners
- Vine borers*
Neem Oil as a Fungicide helps control the following:
- Black Spot
- Powdery Mildew
- Twig and tip blight
What’s great about Neem Oil for organic gardening and pest control is that it only affects insects that chew and suck on leaves, and not beneficial ones like ladybugs, bees, and butterflies. Unlike other sprays that just stay on the surface, Neem actually gets absorbed by the plant and is distributed throughout the plant’s vascular system, so even vine borers and leafminers can be affected. *Please note – Neem helps to prevent vine borers. If you wait to spray until you have them, it may be too late. The vine borers could do enough damage before being affected by the Neem spray.
While Neem Oil doesn’t prevent everything, it sure does a good job of preventing a lot.
Neem oil for organic gardening application
Neem Oil is safe to use on roses and other flowers, houseplants, fruits, vegetables, ornamental trees, and shrubs. If you’re ever concerned about how your plant may react to any spray, just use it on a small section and wait 24 hours to see how the plant reacts before using it for the whole plant.
Neem Oil for organic gardening and pest control is best applied as a diluted spray. You can purchase a spray that’s already diluted and ready to go, or you can purchase a Neem Oil Concentrate that will need to be added to water and then applied. If you have a large garden, the concentrate may be more economical for you. I typically use an already diluted spray. I use Natria Neem Oil, but there are other Neem Oil providers available.
The best time of day to apply it is in the evening. This will prevent foliage burn. Once a week should be enough. You’ll want to spray the leaves and try to avoid the blossoms. I find that I use more Neem Oil in the spring than I do in the fall or winter here in Florida because the spring is really when we have our bug season.
For other pest solutions, check out our article on garden pests and organic solutions.