It’s a nightmare.
You wake up drenched in sweat just thinking about it. The thought that your plants are being destroyed by pests is painful.
You’ve grown your plants with tender loving care. Giving them the right amount of food, water, and air. And an infestation of pests can ruin everything in just a few days.
You don’t want to use pesticide because it can harm your plants and the environment. But do you have a choice?
Yes, you do.
There is something that can get rid of pests. Something that will protect your plants. Something that will not harm the environment.
It’s neem oil.
Let’s take a look at what neem oil really is, how it works, and how it can benefit your plants.
What is neem oil?
The magical neem tree.
It’s a tree indigenous to the Indian subcontinent where it has been used for thousands of years as part of medicine. That’s because it has excellent antifungal and antibacterial properties that treat many diseases.
The neem oil is made by pressing the seeds and fruits of the neem tree to create an oil that is yellow, brown, or red in color. It has a pungent smell that some might find a bit too strong for their nose.
What are the benefits of neem oil?
It protects your plants like Superman
It works as an insecticide to kill insects that could damage your plants. It does this across the lifecycle of the insects.
When the insects lay eggs it prevents them from hatching. When the insects are in larval form, it prevents them from growing. And when insects have turned to adults, it reduces their feeding till they starve to death.
Neem oil also works as a fungicide. This means it protects your plants from fungal infections such as rust, powdery mildew, black spot, and scab.
Don’t you agree it’s the Man of Steel for your garden?
It protects the environment like Captain Planet
Pesticides have a bad reputation.
The man-made ones tend to wreak havoc with the environment. They tend to pollute the soil and water that is harmful to plants, animals, and birds. They can also enter into water and mess up the marine biology.
But you don’t have to worry about neem oil.
It breaks down really fast and does not pose a problem to the air and water. It is non-toxic and does not cause any harm to plants, animals, and birds.
Even Captain Planet would be proud of neem oil for this.
It treats friends of your plants with respect
Pesticides can kill insects beneficial to your plants.
But neem is gentle and treats such insects as friends. It does not harm to insects like bees, butterflies, earthworms, and ladybugs that help your plants.
That’s because it affects insects that try to eat the leaves, stems, and roots of the plants, not the ones that live on them.
How does neem oil work?
Neem oil contains a compound known as azadirachtin. Difficult to pronounce I know.
But what is important is the function this compound performs. It impacts insects in all stages of their lifecycle.
Plants take in this compound and circulate in their system. The insects that bite into the plants don’t enjoy the flavor and stay far away from them.
If adult insects do ingest some of it their appetite grows weak so they eat less of the plants and slowly starve to death. The compound also wrecks havoc with their hormones so the insects are unable to mate or lay eggs.
If larvae of the insects ingest this compound they are unable to grow bigger into adults and die off.
So when you use neem oil you may not see the results immediately because it does not kill the insects. But after a few days, you will be pleasantly surprised with what the neem oil has done for your plants.
How to use neem oil in your garden?
You can either buy a neem oil spray or easily make your own.
How to make your own neem oil spray
To make 1 liter of neem oil spray, mix 1 teaspoon neem oil with 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap and 32oz of warm water. If you want to increase the effectiveness of the spray you can double the quantities of the neem oil and the soap.
The warm water and soap help the oil mix well with the water to create a neem oil spray that coats the plants evenly.
When to apply the neem oil
You can start applying neem oil to your plants as part of prevention every week. Then after a few weeks, you can maintain this by spraying the neem oil every couple of weeks.
If your plants are already suffering from an infestation you can spray the neem oil every 3 days for a few weeks till the problem is taken care of. Then you can switch to spraying the neem oil every couple of weeks.
You need to make sure you don’t spray the neem oil on plants that are too young as they could get damaged. Also, it’s good to spray the neem oil on a few leaves and leave it for 24 hours. If there is no damage to the leaves you can spray in on the plants.
And it’s good to apply the neem oil in the evening so that the plants can absorb it before being exposed to sunlight and higher temperatures.
How to apply the neem oil
You need to apply the neem oil on both sides of the leaves because insects tend to hide underneath the leaves.
You can also spray the neem oil on the soil as well because it can protect the roots from insects, bacteria, and nematodes.
Once you’ve created the neem oil spray you need to use it up within a few hours as the neem oil will break down quickly. You can always make a new batch for the next time you need to spray your plants.
Also when you spray the plants make sure to shake the spray can well so that the oil does not settle down and mixes well with the water.
If you’re using neem oil for prevention of pests you can spray a weaker solution on the plants. But if your plants are already infested you can spray with a stronger solution.
Spray neem oil and protect your plants
No longer will you have nightmares when you wake up.
Your plants will now have the right food, water, air and protection from pests and diseases. And all this is possible without polluting the environment or harming animals.
All you need to do is spray your plants with the right amount of neem oil.
So get your neem oil spray ready and get to work.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.