Bone Meal?

Matthew Condon - Indiana.Matt - IN, Zone 5/6(Indiana Zone 5/6)January 28, 2014

The Amaryllis Man from ebay recommended I use bone meal in my amaryllis pots. Does anyone have any input on how you use bone meal? I have a box that is older than 10 years. Is it still good? or Do I need to pitch it and get fresh?

At the moment I feed with all purpose Miracle Gro 24-8-16 at house plant strength every time I water. They all are doing very well.


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Hi Matt, I'm not sure about the shelf life of bone meal but I have to warn you that about 15+ years ago we planted a large amount of daffodils all around the yard and planted them with bone meal. Within a few days just about every daffodil had been dug up by either a skunk or a raccoon smelling the bone meal and expecting a tasty treat only to find nothing and left the bulb laying on the ground totally exposed. Now maybe you don't have these types of nocturnal animals where you live and hopefully won't have the same experience.

Now I know that bone meal is excellent for bulbs and if you've got them in a green house or under cover I wouldn't hesitate to use it but just be wary that if used out of doors It might attract the wrong type of admirers. The stuff really stinks too if you plan to use it inside.

If you've only got a few bulbs then give it a try and let us know this summer how it worked for you.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 4:16PM
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Matthew Condon - Indiana.Matt - IN, Zone 5/6(Indiana Zone 5/6)

Thanks Donna,

I have my bulbs in pots in the house, but they will be going outside for the summer. I no longer plant them in the garden...I keep them in the pots all year...less root disturbance.

Here is what they look like right now. I was late bringing them out of dormancy this year, but 4 of my 6 larger bulbs have scapes and one of them has 2!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 5:05PM
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The bone meal should still be fine to use. It is a good way to provide phosphate as a slow release fertilizer in the garden when planting a bulb because it breaks down slowly. But it needs to needs to be mixed in the soil at planting because phosphate is not very mobile the soil, particularly where there is a lot of clay. The difficulty of getting phosphate to the roots is less of an issue in small pots with freely draining, organic media. It should be fine to use in pots, but certainly is not needed. I also use the same the same Miracle Grow, though it would be better to use something with less nitrogen. I have never used bone meal because I have only found it in small, relatively expensive packages.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 6:28PM
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I bought a big bag of bone meal for my amaryllis and thankfully I didn't have any big issues with wildlife. My minpins sniffed around, though. hehehe.

When I put my amaryllis in the ground, I put a couple tablespoons into each hole, covered it just a tad with some dirt because I was told it's not good for them to be directly on top of it, and dropped the bulb in. In flower boxes, I do a thin layer of bone meal somewhere mid-level of the flowerbox,

The one thing that's always made me curious is how to keep adding bone meal to the soil the next year when the bulbs are already established. It feels weird to just disturb the dirt around each bulb and try to add bone meal? I guess it's easier when you have one or two in a pot... but for a whole bed?

What do you guys do for established plants when digging it up/repotting it isn't what you want to do?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:52PM
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Matthew Condon - Indiana.Matt - IN, Zone 5/6(Indiana Zone 5/6)

I am wondering about the same thing, Dragonstone. My box of bone meal says:

"For Potted Plants: Mix 1 tablespoon into soil for each inch of pot diameter. For repeated treatments, mix bone meal into top layer of soil or sprinkle directly onto soil around plant and cover with small amount of potting soil."

Does the water dissolve the nutrients in the bone meal or do the roots have to physicaly contact the bone meal in order to absorb the nutrients? If the water dissolves the nutrients and takes it to the roots, then I would think just mixing it in the top layer of soil would be fine.

If I use bone meal, should I stop my feeding with Miracle Gro?
Bone Meal: 6-12-0
Miracle Gro: 24-8-16

No potassium in my bone meal - should my Amaryllis get some potassium?

Any thoughts?


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 9:18PM
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Bulbs do generally require a lot of potassium, so I would not use bone meal as your only fertilizer.

Placing any kind of phosphorus fertilizer close to the roots is the best way to ensure it can be taken up by the plant. The bone meal breaks down gradually and releases phosphate, but most of it very quickly binds to soil particles and tends not to get transported downward when watering occurs. If the phosphate is released by the bone meal near the roots, there is a much better chance that it will be taken up by the plant. I do not know how liquid fertilizer behaves, but in porous media, I assume that much of it can get to the roots before it gets bound. In contrast to phosphate, postassium and nitrogen are quite mobile in the soil and can more easily reach the roots when fertilizer is placed on the soil surface.

When planting bulbs (such as daffodils, etc) in the garden, bone meal is often placed in the soil under the bulb, but I don't think it is typical to add more each year. Since many bulbs must be lifted after several year to avoid overcrowding, more can be added when replanting.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:53AM
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I used bone meal outdoors one year and will never do it again. Both the cats and dogs dug constantly and ruined lots of stuff!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 3:56PM
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Matthew Condon - Indiana.Matt - IN, Zone 5/6(Indiana Zone 5/6)

Ok, so I worked in some bone meal into one of my smells bad...reminds me of the flack fish food I used to feed my fish when I was a kid. It didn't smell until I watered it. I'm glad I only put it in one pot...I don't think I'll be using it for my potted bulbs, especial since the pots are in the house at the moments.

I'm pleased with the results I got with using the all purpose 24-8-16 Miracle Gro.

I have some 15-30-15 Miracle Gro...I might try that and see if I can tell a difference.

Although, I would think one would want as many leaves as one can get during the summer...more leaves = photosynthesis and that = more food for the plant...I would think. All of my bulbs have been doing much better since I started feeding with 24-8-16 for the past two years.

My initial question to the "Amaryllis Man" was how to get my seedlings and small offset bulbs to grow bigger faster and he recommended the bone meal.

I think I'm going to start a new post asking how to get my baby bulbs to blooming size ASAP.

Thanks for all the input about bone meal.
I guess I need to plant more hardy bulbs so I can use up my bone meal.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:23PM
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