The neem tree (Azadirachta indica) is an evergreen native to the India and Southeast Asia. It can reach 100 feet tall with limbs that grow 50 feet wide. The neem tree has dark-green, shiny leaves with serrated leaflets and produces small white, honey-scented flowers in mid-spring. Neem oil, made from the neem tree, has been used for centuries as a lubricant, a cosmetic and as a natural insecticide. The neem tree has a large canopy that serves well as a shade tree.
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Things you need
- Neem seedlings
- Peat moss
- Sand or perlite
- Balanced fertiliser
- Potting soil
- Pruning shears
- Sheet to cover plant
Test soil to ensure that pH is in the 6.2 to 7.0 range. Dig a 4- to 6-inch hole and remove a few teaspoons of soil from the bottom for the test. Add reagent in kit and allow it to react as advised on package directions. Match the colour to the pH chart provided. Adjust soil pH with sulphur or lime as needed.
Dig a hole slightly larger than the seedlings roots in a sunny spot or partial shade.
Condition the soil to ensure good drainage with one part peat moss, one part loam and two parts sand.
Plant seedlings at least 5 feet apart.
Replace soil and tamp down gently.
Allow soil to dry out between waterings. Do not allow soil to remain soggy.
Weed seedlings regularly to prevent competition for water and nutrients.
Fertilise monthly with a balanced fertiliser during growing season.
Keep soil aerated to prevent infestation by scale insects
Prune back dead or damaged branches in early spring.
Cover plants with cloth sheet or nursery cloth if frost threatens.
Choose container with plenty of room. Neem plants will soon fill whatever container they're given.
Fill container with a rich potting mixture with good drainage. Those that contain peat moss and perlite are the best choices.
Plant seedling in pot
Set plant with potting mixture and tamp down gently.
Water thoroughly till soil is evenly moist. Do not overwater.
Set in sunny window away from cold drafts.
Fertilise monthly with a balanced fertiliser.
Prune as needed to contain plant size.
Tips and warnings
- Perlite can also be used to condition the soil for neem plants, according to PlantOfTheWeek.
- The neem tree produces a fruit that starts as green and turns yellow when ripe. The fruit contains a single neem seed. According to NeemTreeFarms, neem seeds can be difficult to germinate and are only viable for 30 days after harvesting.
- New seedlings grown from seed should be protected under shade for the first one to two months, then, exposed to full sun, according to Winrock.
- Neem trees are drought-tolerant outdoors but are less so when planted in containers. Water frequently and allow soil to dry in between waterings.
- Neem trees cannot tolerate freezing temperatures, according to the NeemFoundation. In areas where temperatures dip below 00 degrees Celsius, plant neem in containers and bring indoors during cold weather.
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