Searching for natural, safe, non-toxic insecticides for the environment and humans, which really work, can become a challenging task. Most of these remedies have limited effectiveness, so many people lose patience and return to using chemicals. In this article, we will give you a complete guide about neem oil for plants. Fortunately, however, there is Neem oil! Neem oil is a natural pesticide whose effectiveness is comparable, if not superior, to that of many chemical insecticides.
What is Neem oil?
Neem plant is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of Azadirachta indica. A plant was native to India and Southeast Asia. This oil has an unpleasant smell, so it is not used in the kitchen. However, it is a harmless product for humans, animals, and the environment in general. And is perfect for those who intend to pursue organic farming and biodynamic.
What makes it so special?
The reason that Neem oil is effective in the fight against pests, insects, fleas, ticks. And the company is the presence of a group of substances called limonoids. The most important active ingredient is the ‘ Azadirachtina A. These substances work by blocking insects’ development in the juvenile stages. In particular, Azadirachtina A interferes with the hormonal system of insects. Causing a chitin inhibitory effect based on the blockade of ecdysone. This causes changes in the molt in many insect species. These do not allow the larva or nymph to form the outer cuticle.
Precisely for this reason, neem oil is especially effective on young specimens at the beginning of their life cycle. However, Neem oil is also effective on insects and adult parasites since it also acts as a repellent and phagodeterrent. Basically, if applied to the plant, Neem oil strongly limits insects’ attraction through a natural mechanism. Its action takes place both by ingestion and by contact and has a high systemic capacity on plants. It remains present in the lymphatic system and therefore carries out its action over time (from 5 to 7 days). Moreover, it reduces adult females’ fecundity in some insect species and therefore slows down the reproduction cycle. Finally, Neem oil also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. This is why it is also effective on powdery mildew, a plant disease caused by a fungus, commonly known as “white sickness.”
Against which parasites is it effective?
There are so many insects and parasites of vegetable, fruit, or garden plants on which Neem oil is effective. This efficacy is superior when used against parasites in the larval state. But it is still useful also on adult parasites since it will always carry out its repellent action.
These are the main parasites that Neem oil is effective on:
- Black aphids.
- Thrips such as Frankliniella occidentalis.
- Beetles such as the potato beetle and the beet Baltica.
It is also an excellent repellent for mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks and in the event of a bite from one of these insects. So it is enough to know how to resist its unpleasant smell. If used at low concentrations (I’ll explain how soon), it is completely harmless to bees! So you can rest assured, Neem oil won’t kill our honey-producing friends!
How to use neem oil for plants
Aphids parasites plant neem oil is never used pure on plants! Instead, it should be diluted with water, but it is not a very simple operation since it is an oil. I hear on some forums and magazines that you have to use dish soap. Being chemical stuff, I strongly advise against it! Instead, I recommend using the very common Marseille soap. Marseille soap has the ability to make Neem oil water-soluble, also favoring. The adhesion of the nebulized solution on the plants and therefore improving its effect.
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The correct dosage depends on the use you want to make of it: which insect you want to hit for preventive purposes or solve an ongoing infestation. On average, 6-7 drops of Neem oil are enough for 1 liter of water. In any case, you must not go beyond 2% dilution. To dilute it best, you need to use lukewarm water. Which dissolves better, and remember to add a few flakes of Marseille soap. On the leaves and other parts of the plant infested with parasites. And you can also spray it on the earth to favor its absorption by the roots. The product should never be used during the day as Neem oil is susceptible to heat and direct sunlight exposure. It can lose most of its properties, thus not being effective.
Where to buy Neem oil
As I said at the beginning of the article, Neem oil is obtained from an Asian plant. So you will not find products of Italian origin on the market. Since we are talking about an imported product. You will always have to make sure that it is a pure and organic product. To guarantee the end customer maximum results, we are committed every day to ensure. That all our products comply with these quality standards, in line with the products we produce locally in our campaigns. And I can assure you that the Neem oil we have chosen for you is undoubted. One of the best on the market, 100% pure and organic.
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Toxicity and waiting period
The azadirachtin molecule does not pollute the environment. It is natural and easily degrades without accumulating in the soil or water. For this reason, its environmental impact is close to zero, and it can be used with more peace of mind than other insecticides. Including organic ones, such as pyrethrum and spinosad. Being harmless to humans and animals, it has a low shortage period, generally less than 7 days. The exact period depends on the crop and product used. However, it should be checked on the package. For this reason, unlike various other insecticides.
There are, however, different products based on neem, often formulated, that is very different from the oil pure. Therefore, beware that insecticides containing azadirachtin as an active ingredient can be more toxic and polluting than natural neem oil.
Neem and bees
Neem can annoy bees but does not kill them, unlike most other plant pest treatments. To understand how much azadirachtin is respectful of bees. The hive from attacks by harmful mites (specifically varroa). Thus treating insects directly, as the Federation tells us. USA beekeepers. This feature makes neem oil very suitable for use in the vegetable garden. And in the orchard, we can also use it in flowering periods.
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Use neem oil
Generally, neem oil or seed powder is used by diluting them in water and spraying. The liquid is thus obtained from the plants. When using this insecticide, it must be taken into account that the azadirachtin molecule is photosensitive. So for better efficacy of the treatment. A side effect of this treatment is the smell. In fact, neem oil has a pungent and also very persistent stench.
Against which insects to use it
Neem oil has more than one effect: it is insecticidal. But also repellent (it repels insects), phagodeterrent (prevents insects from eating the leaves of the plant). And it is also able to inhibit the growth of parasites. Simultaneously, it is not significantly toxic for animals and humans and not even for many beneficial insects. Including pollinators such as the aforementioned bees and bumblebees. We can therefore use it to defend ourselves from garden parasites and harmful insects in the orchard.
There are many insects unwelcome in the garden that undergo the repellent action of neem oil. For example, nematodes, beetles, noctuids, Colorado beetles, aphids, and cochineal, red spiders. Neem is also good for containing fungal diseases as powdery mildew is successfully used to disinfect gardens from mosquitoes (read more: anti-mosquito neem ).
Dilution and dosage
If you buy pure neem oil, you must dilute it before use. There are also ready-to-use neem-based products on the market. They are simple to mix in water because they are very soluble. But as already written, the advice is to buy pure oil, generally. You save significantly compared to the purchase of already mixed products. The dilution of pure oil is not very easy. So it is advisable to use potassium soft soap (or Marseille soap ). In addition to making the neem water-soluble, which favors the nebulized solution’s adhesion to the plants. And therefore improves its effect (read more dilution of neem oil ).
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The correct dosage depends on the use you want to make of it: which insect you want to hit for preventive purposes or solve an ongoing infestation. On average, 5-6 drops of pure oil are enough for a liter of water. However, it is not necessary to go beyond 2%. To dilute it best, you need to use lukewarm water, which dissolves better and remembers to use potassium soap.
Benefits of neem oil for plants
Used for hundreds of years for pest control and some human diseases. Neem oil has shown following a lot of research carried out in this area. That the spray solution helps fight the most common parasites such as whiteflies, mealworms, mites, scale insects, locusts, thrips, beetles. Orchid owners and growers use pure neem oil to control pests such as mealybugs. One of its main ingredients, in fact, is azadirachtin, which regulates the growth of insects. Thus preventing the larva from transforming into an adult individual.
This natural insecticide has a very bitter taste, making the leaves very unpleasant for insects to eat. This pesticide is biodegradable and has no toxicity to mammals, birds, bees, or earthworms. It has also been shown not to be harmful to adult insects, which benefit plants. Since the substance contained in the oil affects only the plant sap. And larvae of beneficial organisms such as ladybugs are present. Like any other spray oil, it can also burn leaves if sprayed in the sun.
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Check out the insecticides section now:
- low toxicity
- ease of application
- low environmental impact
- organic and biodegradable
- relatively wide use allowed
Neem oil for plants: all the countless properties and other uses
But Neem oil, as mentioned above, is not only precious for plants. Because it offers many properties and many different uses, even for personal care. Often, when we talk about plants’ beneficial properties and characteristics, people are ready to exaggerate a little. In this case, however, it seems that this oil is miraculous from multiple points of view (just like it happens in different areas for aloe vera or goji berries). And if used in the right doses – it can give us all its properties. This particular oil performs an excellent function as a fungicide helping to control the iodine balance. Some people have also achieved good results with a single spray of neem oil for skin blemishes.
Generally speaking, the most frequently reported indications for the use of neem oil are the following:
- in the treatment of skin diseases (acne, parasites, mycosis, skin infections).
- The inflammation.
- The fever and rheumatic diseases.
- Malaria tuberculosis.
- To protect plants from parasites.
- To eliminate lice and anti-mites.
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So to counteract hair loss and slow down hair graying.
With a wide range of uses, Neem extracts are used in creams and soaps for their properties, in shampoo as an anti-dandruff. Furthermore, it is mixed with water and vegetable oils to keep hair healthy and shiny for aesthetic purposes. But the skin is the main beneficiary of the effects of Neem. Used as a base for preparations, creams, and lotions. According to John Conrick, author of “Neem the ultimate herb,” Neem is as effective as a drug, without causing any skin sensitization with frequent use.
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It is an aid in solving psoriasis, herpes, fungi, scarring problems and keeps insects and mosquitoes away. And of course, Neem oil is exceptional against skin aging, thanks to natural hydration. That prevents the formation of wrinkles and leaves the skin softened. Creams, liquid soaps, shampoos, and shower gels. Add a few drops of Neem oil (1-5 ml in 100 ml of product) and mix. Neem has antibacterial, moisturizing, and antioxidant effects. It also helps prevent dandruff and keeps head lice away. Use only in natural products.
On the skin
Neem oil can be used purely by applying a few drops directly to the skin. Thanks to its moisturizing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Neem oil is indicated for acne problems, as aftershave, in insect bites, in the prevention of stretch marks, and as a moisturizer in dry skin.
Tip: as with all substances, natural and otherwise, we advise you to first try a small amount of the product on a small portion of the skin to check that you are not hypersensitive or allergic to the substance.