You may have heard of it or you may be a neem newbie, but the neem tree is one great option for your garden! Native to India and a few other tropical areas in Asia, it's also sometimes called Indian lilac or the nimtree. The plant falls into the mahogany family and while it is fast growing, the tree cannot grow in every climate. Nonetheless, you'll be amazed by the variety of valuable uses you will find for having a neem tree in your garden.
The Care and Keeping of Neem Trees
There are a variety of ways to get your Neem started. First, if you plan to grow a neem tree indoors, simply root neem tree seeds in a large pot. Find a spot near your sunniest window to make sure it gets the necessary light and warmth to help it thrive. You can start seeds indoors in trays as well if you want to grow an outdoor tree, begin your seeds in trays; after three to six months, they will be sturdy saplings that can be transplanted outdoors.
Keep in mind that neem trees are hardy in high temperatures, not low ones so if you have anything more than a mild winter, you can expect your Indian lilac to drop its leaves despite it technically being an evergreen tree! If it gets cold enough, the tree won't survive. If you worry that your winters will be too harsh, pot your nimtree and transport it inside when the weather turns foul; it can thrive indoors until the sunshine and warmth return again.
Neem may be very strong, but it still needs nutrients! Make sure you are fertilizing and mulching your neem tree regularly, even more so if it's growing indoors and doesn't have access to the vital outdoor soil. Also, resist the urge to water it constantly since these roots are susceptible to overwatering and rot, so you'll need to trust that outdoor neem trees are getting enough rain to sustain them through even a long dry spell.
The Value of Neem Oil
One of the most interesting qualities of neem is that it experiences virtually no pests. It's uniquely good at repelling bugs and fungus. The key is the oils that are found in neem seeds, which when harvested and processed, become a nontoxic, environmentally friendly pesticide that you can use on other parts of your garden.
Neem oil works by repelling bugs, fungus, and disease, making most beneficial insects keep away from it without hurting them. It breaks down quickly and is naturally occurring, and has been used for hundreds of years, making it an unusually nice option. For gardens that produce food, it can be frustrating to avoid all pesticides, knowing that they could harm your foods. Neem oil doesn't create these problems even when used on plants that will later produce fruits because the oil naturally breaks down over time once it's done its job without leaving residue.
Harvested bottles of neem oil are available in most home and garden stores.
Taking Care of the Environment With Neem Trees
As the parts-per-million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise, people worry that these changes mean we need to slow or eliminate that change before we see major changes in the greenhouse effect on our atmosphere. Neem trees have become one of the latest ways to "sequester" carbon due to their fast growing, hardy qualities. This means these plants are particularly effective at pulling carbon from the atmosphere to store it in a new, non-gaseous form. If you have the space, planting multiple neem trees will draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere while also naturally supplying oxygen through the natural lifecycle of the plant.
The Amazing Edible Neem!
Neem leaves are a traditional Ayurvedic treatment in India, and it is no wonder: they have antioxidants and antinflammatory properties among many other reported benefits. Chewing the leaves or twigs, or brewing a tea out of Neem leaves, is considered extremely healthy. It can be a bitter flavor, but mixed with a little honey, neem might be the perfect all-purpose health tonic.
Neem leaves are also purported to help with skin as an ointment, and neem oil appears in a variety of commercially produced cleansers and body care products. Chewing neem is also anti-bacterial, which can be good for your teeth. While these benefits are clearly exciting, definitely consult with your doctor before making neem a part of your diet, since its health effects are varied.
No matter whether you are looking to chow down on some neem leaves, reduce pests naturally with neem oil, or simply sink carbon as part of the larger goal of keeping our atmosphere healthy, the neem tree is a wonderful addition to your backyard. Take the time to invest in a neem Tree today, and you'll see how quickly it flourishes with very little effort! If your local community garden could use more shade trees, advocate for some neem for the benefit of everyone at the garden; you'll be doing a good thing for the environment too.