The Neem Tree (Azadirachta indica) is related to the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is native to the Indian Continent and is known to live up to 200 years old! The entire tree is useful and has been valued traditionally for many centuries not just in India but in various countries in the world. Its leaves, flowers, branches, seed, bark, and trunk become ingredients for food dishes, soaps, skin creams, dental hygiene, plant health, and more. Neem has powerful healing properties and is becoming a household name around the world! It’s now sold everywhere! Neem Oil For Plants for example is used as an effective organic natural combatant against the many pest species that attack plants and cause disease in our gardens. It will rid pest infestations and bring balance back to any garden!
Let’s dive into the detail!
- What is Neem Oil?
- Which part of the Neem tree does Neem Oil come from?
- How is the Neem Oil extracted?
- Is Neem Oil 100% organic?
- How does Neem Oil affect pest insects?
- Will Neem Oil harm plants?
- Is Neem Oil safe to use around children and animals?
- What safety measures should one use when working with Neem Oil?
- How should Neem Oil be stored?
- Does Neem Oil have a shelf life?
- What other uses are there for the Neem Tree?
- Can I grow the Neem Tree in my backyard?
#1 – What is Neem Oil?
Neem Oil is a byproduct of the Neem Tree and can be found in stores all over the world these days. The oil looks like any other oil extract with a clear transparent glow. The oil is used as a natural pesticide. Many gardeners are looking for friendly alternatives to conventional synthetic chemical-based pesticides since they are harmful to many living creatures including humans. So Neem Oil extract is considered to be a safe alternative since no synthetic chemical is added to it and therefore is an all-natural product.
#2 – Which Part of The Neem Tree Does Neem Oil Come From?
Neem oil is extracted from the seeds and leaves of the tree. Indian people have for thousands of years used neem leaves for medicinal purposes. The tree itself can reach up to 20 meters or more and can be harvested for up to 200 years. Although the tree is evergreen it can shed its leaves in dry conditions.
#3 – How is The Neem Oil Extracted?
The fruit of the Neem tree is similar to green olives in shape and size. The fruit is dried ready for the oil to be extracted. The leaves are used without drying. Pressing or crushing of the kernels of the seeds produces a neem cake from which the oil is extracted. The leaves are pressed or crushed when they are fresh. A second extraction process or solvent-extracted neem oil produces a lower quality oil mostly used for the manufacturing of soap.
#4 – Is Neem Oil 100% Organic?
Neem oil is indeed 100% organic and biodegradable due to the fact that Neem oil is a natural derivative of the Neem tree. The oil itself is pure, straight from nature itself, and ready to use without the need for any harmful additives. Assuming the tree has grown in nature naturally without the aid of man-made synthetic chemicals, then my assumption is that it is therefore unaffected and authentically organic.
#5 – How Does Neem Oil Affect Pest Insects?
There are two kinds of insects – the meat-eating kind that feeds off other insects and animals. Then there is the plant-eating kind and these are the pests when it comes to your prized edible and non-edible plants as they love to chew down on these. But they are no match for neem oil.
The typical home gardener will spray neem oil onto foliage to kill or deter aphids, beetles, cabbage white butterflies, leaf miners, whiteflies, mealybugs, and other pesky leaf-chewers and sap-suckers, leaving other insects unharmed. The Neem oil inhibits and disrupts the development of eggs, larvae, pupae as well as interrupting the mating behavior by muddling sexual communication between mates. But that’s not all!
The Neem oil spray deters females from laying eggs and sterilizes adults. It poisons larvae and adults and deters feeding and blocks the ability to swallow. It upsets the expected course of metamorphosis at various stages, as well as inhibits the formation of chitin, a primary component of the exoskeletons of arthropods. Over 300 insect species can be affected one way or another. Even bees, flies, butterflies, moths, and grasshopper are not immune.
#6 – Will Neem Oil Harm Plants?
If you apply the neem oil heavily it can indeed be harmful to plants. The best practice is to apply the oil spray lightly and/or test a small area of the plant before spraying the entire plant then wait 24 hours to see what effect it is having on it. Be sure to apply to the affected area of the plant.
#7 – Is Neem Oil Safe to Use Around Children and Animals?
Neem Oil is typically safe in the proper diluted concentrations but as a pesticide it should be treated in the same way and precuations as any other pesticide. Always follow the safety instructions on the packaging. If the product is not store bought then store it out of reach of children and pets or under lock and key anyway. Again it is about the proper dilutions depending on the use. Neem oil is used on pets to treat flee and parasite problems in the right concentrations. Fish are more susceptible to the effects of Neem Oil, so avoid using it for aquatics.
According to Sadguru of India (who heads the Isha Foundation in India) women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should not consume neem.
#8 – What Safety Measures Should One Use When Working with Neem Oil?
Neem Oil is naturally safe in its organic form. Some products on the shelf can include other ingredients apart from Neem Oil. Read the ingredients list on the label to be sure as to what is in the product you are purchasing. Contact the manufacturer if you are still unsure. With any pesticide, gloves and masks are standard safety gear but the product could include extra precautions. Stick to the infected areas when spraying on pest-infested plants.
#9 – How Should Neem Oil Be Stored?
Keep Neem Oil in a dark glass bottle (not plastic), and refrigerate. If refrigeration is not possible then store it in a cool dark cupboard. Glass bottle is better than a plastic one as plastic can leach and breakdown. Glass is also cleaner than plastic and this is important for ensuring the Neem Oil is pure.
#10 – Does Neem Oil Have a Shelf Life?
Generally, Neem Oil has anywhere from a 1 to 3-year shelf-life if refrigerated. Without refrigeration, shelf life is anywhere from 6 months and up to 2 years. Mix the Neem Oil concentrate within 8 hours of using it on plants otherwise the Neem Oil could break down if sat there longer than that.
#11 – What Other Uses Are There for The Neem Tree?
All parts of a Neem tree have been used traditionally for treating inflammation, infections, fever, skin disease, and even dental disorders. The leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, roots, and bark are all used.
- NEEM LEAVES crushed down into a paste using a mortar and pestle to treat skin disease. Leaves infused in tea increase your immunity system.
- NEEM SEEDS dried, crushed, and soaked produce the neem oil, which is used in medicines, cosmetics, and of course, pesticide.
- NEEM BARK & TWIGS also repels pests while chewing on twigs improves dental hygiene. The Bark is powdered down and used to treat various diseases.
- NEEM ROOTS powdered down is also used to treat various diseases.
- NEEM FRUIT is eaten fresh or cooked.
- NEEM FLOWERS are also used as a vegetable in dishes.
#12 – Can I Grow The Neem Tree in My Backyard?
The Neem tree will grow in tropical
Neem is a hardy tree that can tolerate temperatures up to 50 C. However, in cool weather with temperatures below 5 C, will cause the Neem tree to drop its leaves. The tree is intolerant of colder temperatures, wet climates, or prolonged drought. With that said, if you’re able to obtain fresh neem tree seeds, they can be grown indoors in a planter with good quality, well-draining organic potting soil. Or plant fresh neem seeds directly in the ground outdoors. Seed started inside can be transplanted outdoors in around three months. You can root cuttings in late fall or early winter if you have access to mature trees.