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What Is Neem Oil and How To Make Neem Oil

Any plant or tree that sends mosquitoes in a different direction from me is a favorite of mine.  One such small tree is the Neem tree.

Young Neem tree leaves.

Young Neem tree leaves.

It’s really the oil of the Neem tree that  is a natural insecticide heavily favored by home gardeners and organic gardeners, not just in the United States, but all over the world.  Neem oil is derived from the fruits and the seeds of an evergreen tree that is native to India and other nearby Asian countries.  Its scientific name is Azadirachta indica.  

The big interest in using Neem oil is the fact that bugs absolutely hate it while at the same time it is not harmful to:

  • Birds
  • Butterflies
  • Earthworms
  • Ladybugs (if not heavily concentrated on their primary food source plants)
  • Other mammals

Yet, at the same time neem oil repels:

  • Ants
  • Aphids
  • Bedbug
  • Beet army worms
  • Beetles
  • Cabbage worms
  • Caterpillars
  • Fungus Gnats
  • Housefly
  • Japanese beetles
  • Leaf miners
  • Locust
  • Mealy worms
  • Mites
  • Mosquitoes
  • Moth larvae
  • Mushroom flies
  • Neomatodes
  • Roaches
  • Sand-flies
  • Snails
  • Termites
  • Thrips
  • White flies
Adult Neem Tree

Adult Neem Tree

 If that wasn’t enough to make any gardener want to use this organic oil, it is also a scientific fact that neem oil also:

  • Controls black spot disease
  • Prevents anthracnose
  • Prevents rust (fungus)
  • Wards off powdery mildew

If you were a bug you’d hate it too because eating leaves and plant parts with it one would cause you to eventually starve to death and your food would taste quite disgusting.

Other Uses Of Neem Tree Leaves and Oil

It should be pointed out that this red colored oil has a strong smell that some have compared to peanut and garlic.  If you were to taste it you would find that it is extremely bitter. Because of the bitter taste neem oil is not used for cooking.  Throughout Asia and especially in India, Neem oil is used in:

  • Conditioners for hair
  • Hand Creams
  • Shampoo
  • Skin Lotions
  • Soap

How To Make Neem Oil

Depending upon where you live and your climate, you can make your own neem oil by a variety of methods.  It is also available at garden centers and nurseries.  One of the reasons for making your own neem oil is the cost savings as it can be pricey to simply purchase it. 

From my standpoint, living here in the South which is an ideal climate for this small tree, growing a neem tree or two makes sense strictly from the point of view that I hate certain bugs — the top bug fugitive in my yard being the mosquito as I have stated before.  

Neem oil is primarily acquired from the seeds and sometimes the fruit of the tree.  Another method to get neem oil is to crush the leaves. The first thing you should know about making neem oil is that the oil itself is not very water soluble.  Commonly, the oil is obtained by crushing the seed.

#1 - Recipe For Making Neem Oil 

  • Put neem seed kernels in a Magic Bullet or small food processor to mash and grind the seed kernels being careful not to liquefy at this point.
  • Place this in a metal bowl and cover with water
  • Allow to sit for 48 hours
  • Skim off the oil floating on the top of the water (a turkey baster works best) 
  • Put the seed kernels back into Magic Bullet or small food processor and mix until quite liquidly and repeat entire process
  • Put Neem liquid into spray container
  • Use mixture within six hours

Note:  It takes considerable mashed seeds to produce a good amount of oil.  Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of Neem oil to deter pests.

#2 - Recipe For Making Neem Oil 

  • Put neem seed kernels in a Magic Bullet or small food processor to mash and grind the seed kernels being careful not to liquefy completely at this point.
  • Place the seed extract in a cheese cloth bag and hang above a large mouthed container
  • Pour water through the cheese cloth bag to allow the neem oil extract and water to drop into the container
  • Put the seed kernels back into Magic Bullet or small food processor and mix until quite liquidey and repeat entire process
  • Put water/neem liquid into spray bottle
  • Use all the mixture within six hours

#3 Recipe For Neem Insecticide Using Leaves 

  • Gather about 2 pounds of fresh Neem leaves
  • Cover in water allowing at least 2-3 inches of water above the leaves
  • Soak leaves for seven days, remembering to keep this brew in a place where the smell will not be offending (it will stink)
  • On the eighth day, strain the leaves from the water while at the same time retaining all water through cheese cloth
  • Strain the water a second time through fresh cheesecloth.  The liquid should be clear. 
  • Add one teaspoon of Dawn dish detergent to mixture
  • Shake well as you use
  • Use while still fresh prior to six hours

Making The Best Use Of Your Neem Oil Insecticide 

  1. Spray affected or plants needing protection with neem solution making sure to coat the underside of any leaves
  2. Drench the soil around the roots
  3. The first time you make this solution test the strength of your insecticide by spraying lightly, then wait for two days, inspect, then spray again if needed
  4. After the initial application spray about once a week during peak insect seasons
  5. Re-spray after heavy rains if needed

Ten Facts For Successfully Growing Your Own Neem Tree 

  1. Remember that the neem tree is only suited to warmer climates, while it will tolerate an occasional freezing temperature any extended length of time will cause the tree to lose its leaves and may kill it.
  2. Neem trees absolutely must be grown in full sun.
  3. Neem trees are very tolerant of poor soils.
  4. Neem trees are exceptionally hardy in the right climate.
  5. Neem trees are both drought tolerant for short periods of time but at the same time will tolerate a fair amount of rain. However, this tree does not like to be continually wet, such as in swampy areas.
  6. Neem trees can be raised from seed.
  7. Expect slow grow during the first year or so.  
  8. Neem trees are fully grown in ten years.  
  9. Neem trees fruit between three and five years.
  10. Neem trees have a life expectancy of over one hundred years.

If You’d Like To Know More About Neem Trees!