One of the biggest challenges of maintaining a thriving garden is pest control. Commercial pesticides are known to have harmful side effects, both for your plants and for your body. But simply doing nothing and letting nature take its course doesn’t work either, at least if you want to eat the fruits and veggies you’re growing.
Fortunately, there are dozens of natural pesticides and methods for preventing the spread of harmful insects in your garden. It’s worth noting that not all insects are harmful– some help enrich the soil, or spread pollen. Your garden should not be a bug-free place! For the bad bugs, however, there is neem oil.
What Is Neem Oil?
Neem oil comes from the seed of the Azadirachta Indica tree. This natural pesticide is used for many other purposes, including as a moisturizer for dry skin, an eczema fighter, and an acne wash. It’s worth noting that you don’t want to use the same neem oil you put on your plants on your skin– skin, hair, and cosmetic products with neem oil use a different concentration.
How Does It Work?
The plant absorbs the neem oil through its roots, then spreads the oil to its vascular system. From there, the neem oil travels to every part of the plant. When an insect feeds on the plant, they ingest the neem oil and die.
Neem oil protects against mites and other small biting insects that can be harmful to your garden. There is also a neem oil fungicide available that can help prevent root rot and mildew from ravaging your plants. Because neem oil does not last long when applied directly to the plant, it is generally not harmful to bees, either.
How Is It Applied?
Neem oil is applied either at the base of the plant or sprayed directly on the plant itself. The reason for applying it at the base of the plant is that neem oil is most effective when absorbed via soil– the oil lasts up to 22 days in soil, but only for 45 minutes when applied directly to the plant. Furthermore, too much neem oil can burn the plant, making a soil soak your best bet.
It’s always best to test neem oil on your garden prior to applying it. Take a small spot of each plant and apply the oil. Wait 24 hours and then observe the plant. If there is any damage, that plant cannot tolerate neem oil. Most plants are fine with it, but it’s much better to be safe than to take out your entire garden trying to protect it.
What Kind Should I Use?
There are several brands of neem oil available on the market. In general, look for one that does not have any extra ingredients– the only one listed on the bottle should be Azadirachta. Some companies will mix harmful pesticides in with neem oil, so be sure to check prior to purchasing.
Plantonix Organic Neem Oil is made from 100% cold-pressed neem oil. This concentrate can be mixed with water and applied to the soil or onto your plants. The concentrate is also multi-purposed– although it’s sold as a natural pesticide, a couple of drops of pure neem oil concentrate can also be added to your lotion or shampoo for silkier skin and shinier hair.
Verdana Cold-Pressed Neem Oil is also made from 100% cold-pressed neem oil– no extra ingredients. Like the Plantonix, this can also be added to shampoos or lotions. It’s even safe for pets.
With all the work you put into your garden, you don’t want mites and other harmful insects to reap the benefits. Neem oil is an effective method of natural pest control. Neem oil also makes a great effective fungicide for your lawn too.