When you need to add phosphorus to the soil in your garden, many gardeners turn to bone meal fertilizer.
This is a highly effective and natural soil amendment that can work wonders for your plants.
After all, plants that are deficient in phosphorus tend to have a hard time forming strong roots and growing the way they should.
If you’re curious about how to use bone meal for soil plants, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will tell you everything you need to know.
What Is Bone Meal?
Bone meal is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. This organic fertilizer can be a powder or a meal, but either way, it will be made up of ground-up animal bones.
Normally, those bones will be beef, but it can be any type of animal that’s commonly slaughtered.
Bone meal is usually steamed to help release nutrients and make them more readily available for plants to use.
Steaming the bones also helps to sterilize them to prevent spreading pathogens. In addition to being sold as a meal or a powder, bone meal can also be made into a liquid or pellet.
It’s often confused with blood meal, but bone meal contains no blood and supplies phosphorus rather than nitrogen (something that blood meal is famous for).
What Is Bone Meal Good For In The Garden?
Bone meal provides a huge boost of phosphorus, which is absolutely essential for the organic gardener. It’s loaded with other vital nutrients as well.
For example, it is also rich in calcium and nitrogen. It’s perfect for bulbs and other flowering plants. Environmentally friendly and organic, bone meal is easy to apply to the garden and relatively affordable, too.
In addition to phosphorus, bone meal provides nitrogen and calcium. Using bone meal in the garden can result in higher yields of fruits and seeds along with a better root structure for newly developing plants.
It can encourage beautiful and healthy blooms and improve the disease and pest resistance of your plants.
Can You Use Too Much Bone Meal In The Garden?
There are very few drawbacks associated with using bone meal, but as with any fertilizer, moderation is key.
Since bone meal is not 100% balanced, you’ll want to apply a different fertilizer along with the bone meal if your plants need other nutrients besides phosphorus. You should never attempt to grow a plant from seed to harvest using bone meal alone.
Not only that, but it’s important to remember that bone meal is made out of - well, bones. Because of this, if it isn’t mixed into the soil properly, it can attract pests and scavengers with its smell.
You should also make sure you store your extra bone meal securely where animals can’t reach it. Another thing to consider is that bone meal is slow release.
It won’t provide your plants with an immediate boost of nutrients and it will not serve as a quick fix. It’s only effective in soils with a pH lower than 7, as alkaline soils limit nutrient uptake, so that’s something else you’ll want to keep in mind.
Using too much bone meal can force other nutrients out of your plants, too, like zinc and iron. It can cause your plants to turn yellow and harm their chlorophyll production if you aren’t careful about supplying other nutrients when they are needed, too.
To get an idea of what nutrients your plants need, and when, check out our complete guide on plant nutrients & pH.
What Soil Grown Plants Benefit From Bone Meal?
Almost all soil-grown plants benefit from bone meal, but some more so than others. All plants rely on phosphorus to help them grow, produce fruit and flowers, and engage in photosynthesis.
Without phosphorus, your plants simply cannot live. There are some plants that benefit from bone meal more than others.
Consider adding bone meal to flowering plants like amaryllis or roses. You might also add it to alliums like leeks, onions, and garlic.
It’s also often used to help establish lawns, as it helps grass plants develop a stronger root structure. It can even be used on tomatoes - it’s one of the best amendments you can add to provide the calcium your plants need to form fruits.
Using Bone Meal For Soil Plants - What Every Grower Needs To Know
Using bone meal in your garden is simple. Most often, you’ll use it to increase phosphorus. Bone meal has an NPK nutrient profile of 3-15-0 on average.
The added phosphorus will help your plants flower and since it's so readily available in bone meal, it will be easy for your plants to take up quickly. This makes it the perfect addition for fertilizing plants like roses.
But when it comes to learning how to use bone meal in the garden, you need to consider how you're going to use it.
Whether you use it as a soil amendment at the start of the growing season, a fertilizer during flower, or as a root drench periodically - we're going to teach you everything you need to know.
Bone Meal As A Soil Amendment
Before you decide to add bone meal, be sure to have your soil tested. If your pH is higher than 7, bone meal won’t be as effective, so you’ll want to alter the soil pH before you add any bone meal.
Once you’re sure that bone meal will be effective - and that phosphorus is actually needed - you should add the fertilizer at the rate of 10 pounds per every 100 square feet to use it as a general soil amendment.
It will release slowly over a period of four months. If you’ve recently added a high-nitrogen soil amendment to your garden, like rotted chicken manure, bone meal can also be used to help balance things out.
By mixing the two together or applying one shortly after the other, you can get a more balanced blend of nutrients for your plants.
Check out our full guide on how and when to amend your garden soil for more information on using bone meal in this manner.
Bone Meal As A Fertilizer
When you are applying bone meal to spring-blooming plants like bulbs, apply about half a teaspoon when you plant in the fall and simply scratch it into the soil around the plant. You can supplement again in the spring.
You can also apply bone meal as a fertilizer to plants that are already in the ground. To do this, sprinkle the bone meal and then rake it over the soil near your plants.
When you add bone meal as a fertilizer, be sure to lightly water afterward so the bone meal can start breaking down.
You also need to pay attention to what other nutrients your plants are getting, as they'll likely develop potassium and nitrogen deficiencies if you don't give them other organic fertilizer sources.
Apply the bone meal when conditions are dry and you are able to work it into the top layer of soil.
Bone Meal As A Root Drench
Bone meal can even be used as a tea or root drench. The liquid form of bone meal is perfect for hydroponics.
You can even make your own by adding two tablespoons of bone meal to a gallon of water or liquid fertilizer.
Mix thoroughly, then apply it directly to the soil or sprinkle it lightly on the foliage of your plants.
What Are The Best Bone Meals For Soil Plants?
Not all plant nutrients are created equal. If you are hoping to grow the best plants, then you’ll need the best bone meals for soil plants possible!
When you shop for your garden supplies and fertilizer at Hydrobuilder.com, you can rest assured you are getting the best the industry has to offer.
We only source reputable brands, and our collection of bone meal is no exception to this. There is one product in particular we want to highlight.
Down To Earth Bone Meal
Down To Earth Bone Meal is an all natural fertilizer, and it’s even OMRI listed as an organic input for growers and gardeners. This means its tested to the strictest standards, and still passes!
Many growers use this product right off the bat when planting bulbs to encourage robust root growth and get plants off to an impressive start.
Can You Make Your Own Bone Meal For Soil Plants?
If you don’t want to buy premade bone meal for your soil plants, you can always make your own. To do this, you will need to gather some scrap bones that you may have had leftover from dinner.
You can often get a good deal on these from your local butcher, too. Remove as much of the meat and fat as you can from the bones.
This can slow the decomposition of the material and make it harder for you to get a good meal. Place the bones in a pot of boiling water for one hour to make this process a bit easier.
Then, preheat your oven to about 300 degrees. Place the bones on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for three hours.
This will dehydrate the bones to make it easier for you to grind them up and it will also kill bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens.
Then, on a sterilized hard surface (concrete is best), lay out your bones. Pound the bones with a metal mallet, crushing them into smaller pieces.
After this, you will likely need to use another grinding method to further process the bones. A mortar and pestle or stone grinder should do the trick.
You can then use this powder as is or combine it with water or other nutrients for your homemade fertilizer mix.
Final Thoughts On Bone Meal For Plants
If you’re ready to start using bone meal in your garden - but perhaps don’t want to go through all the effort of making your own meal - it’s time to consider shopping for the large selection of bone meal supplies on Hydrobuilder.
We have everything you need to fertilize your plants and amend your soil - all with fast shipping and the customer service you’ve come to expect from Hydrobuilder. Shop today to help your plants bloom to their fullest!