How to Use Bone Meal Fertilizer in The Garden? 

 May 11, 2022

By  admin

Bone meal fertilizer is used in gardening to provide a boost of nitrogen and other minerals. Depending on the type, it can be applied directly to plants or mixed with compost tea. The basic instructions are listed below so you know what kind of bone meal fertilizer you need for your garden!

The “how to use bone meal for plants” is a question that has been asked many times in the past. The answer to this question can be found on the Internet, so you should do some research before using it.

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Bone meal is a natural product that is widely utilized in agricultural and animal production. It is primarily used as a natural fertilizer and as a nutritional and mineral supplement for cattle. 

It is not only an organic substitute for contemporary chemical fertilizers, but it also enhances the soil’s general composition. Bone meal also improves the overall quality and production of the crop. 

Even though bone meal is well-known for its soil amendment properties, it should be noted that inappropriate application might result in difficulties. This article will tell you all you need to know before dedicating the health of your soil and plants to bone meal fertilizer.

Continue reading to learn more about its composition, major characteristics, and things to think about before using it.

Composition of Bone Meal 

Bone meal is essentially defatted bones from killed animals. Bone meal is mostly a by-product of meat processing plants. Animal bones are disinfected by heating or boiling before being crushed after drying.

It is classified as an organic fertilizer because of its high phosphorus concentration. Bone meal is abundant in minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc, in addition to phosphorus. Bone meal may also be a good source of protein, depending on how much muscle and tendon is left on the bones.

Its main component, phosphorus, is one of the three essential micronutrients for plants. It has been shown to have a role in plant life processes. Photosynthesis, cellular respiration, growth, blooming, and reproduction are among them.

Phosphorus Deficiency in Soil: Bone Meal

The availability of phosphorus in the soil is influenced by organic matter, clay concentration, soil mineralogy, soil pH, temperature, moisture, and soil aeration. Phosphorus levels in most soils, however, are insufficient. 

There are a few unusual circumstances when phosphorus deficit is evident despite ample total accessible phosphorus in the soil. It occurs when the phosphorus available is immobile and difficult for the plant to absorb.

Plants suffering from phosphorus shortage show purple discolouration, brown tips, and delayed maturity in both of these situations. The plants’ leaves and stems also seem stunted.

In such instances, bone meal is the ideal soil additive. Bone meal is a safer, organic, and ecologically beneficial alternative to rock phosphates, polyphosphates, and artificial phosphate fertilizers.

It greatly improves the soil and supports the development of the plants when utilized properly. 

Plants and Soils that Benefit from Bone Meal

Bone meal is an excellent phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizer for plants that demand a lot of it. Legumes, allium, and flowering plants are among them. Garlic, leeks, onions, roses, amaryllis, and other plants thrive when given enough quantities of bone meal. 

In acidic soils, bone meal is frequently suggested.

Is bone meal fertilizer incompatible with the plants you’re growing? Here are the top five organic garden fertilizers.


Now that we’ve covered the soil types and plants that benefit the most from bone meal treatment, let’s look at the benefits:

  • Bone meal is a great source of phosphorus, and because of its high phosphorus concentration, it may correct phosphorus shortage in soils on its own. 

    Bone meal also contains phosphorus in a form that is simpler for plants to absorb and use. 

    If a soil test isn’t possible, look for a reddish colour around the plant stems. This implies that your plants need phosphorus supplementation, making bone meal a suitable fertilizer.

  • Calcium Supplement: Bone meal includes a significant quantity of calcium in addition to phosphorus. Calcium is a secondary nutrient that helps plants develop in general.

    It’s also important for the creation of cell structures. Calcium-rich soils have also been shown to have a better soil structure and water penetration capabilities.

    Keep in mind that low-calcium soils generate fruits with a shorter shelf life. Premature bud shedding, mortality of young plants, and bitter pit are among the other symptoms.

  • Bone meal may be used alone in certain situations, but it is most often used in conjunction with other nutrient-rich fertilizers. 

    Phosphorus levels in traditional fertilizers like farmyard compost and manure are low to nearly non-existent. As a result, when combined with other organic fertilizers in the proper amounts, bone meal may help to create a well-rounded soil amendment.

  • Slow Release Properties: Bone meal takes a long time to disintegrate entirely. One application of bone meal on the garden soil will last at least a year. 



Bone meal is probably much more helpful to the soil and crop quality than it is harmful. However, it is essential to be mindful of the organic fertilizer’s potential drawbacks. Here are several examples:

  • It can’t be used to improve soils with a high pH. 
  • It won’t quickly increase the phosphorus level of the soil since it’s a slow-release fertilizer.
  • Although it is not harmful, it may induce gastrointestinal problems in people and animals if consumed.
  • Bone meal should also be used in combination with other comparable fertilizers.
  • Because of its powerful odor, bone meal may also attract scavengers and animals.

As a result, it should be thoroughly mixed into the soil and the residual fertilizer safely kept. 

Before Using Bone Meal in the Garden

The soil must be prepared before the addition of bone meal, depending on the soil and other conditions. This involves determining if your garden’s soil required bone meal additions in the first place. 

The following are the measures to take:

  1. Test the Soil: Knowing the real quantities of phosphorus and other components in the soil is crucial for determining the best fertilizer for the soil. 

    Soil testing kits may be purchased through local agricultural shops, county extension offices, government agencies, and agricultural institutions, or online. 

    For a detailed examination of soil test kits, see our list of the 7 Best Soil Test Kits.

  2. Another important step is pH testing, since bone meal may only be utilized if the soil pH is 7 or below. 
  3. Soil Preparation: If the soil in your garden or field is too alkaline, you’ll need to use external neutralizing (or acidifying) substances to adjust the pH. Sphagnum peat, elemental sulfur (or other acidic sulfur compounds), acidifying nitrogen, and organic mulches are some of these. 

How do you incorporate bone meal into your soil?

Bone meal may be applied to the soil once it has been prepared. 

Although the proportions may vary depending on the type, it is advised to use 1 tablespoon per 2 square feet of soil. This works out to around 3 cups of bone meal per 100 square feet of soil. It’s also a good idea to check the package for the proper application.

Mix the bone meal with the back-fill soil before planting. You may also sprinkle it on top of the soil and mix it well.

When planting seedlings or bulbs that bloom in the spring, use about half a teaspoon per plant. The next augmentation will be necessary in the spring or summer of the following year. 

To begin the decomposition of bone meal, the soil must be moistened gently after application. Over a four-month period, the bone meal will release nutrients.

Remember that applying bone meal is simpler in dry weather. As a result, you should check the weather prediction before beginning.

Bone Meal Alternatives

Despite the fact that all of these organic plant meals seem to be identical, they are essentially distinct and should be utilized for various reasons. The following are their characteristics, uses, and dosage recommendations:

Meal of fish 

Meal of fish is obtained from dried fish waste, carcass, skin, scales, and is a waste product of the industrial production of fish oils. Meal of fish is best suited to soils that have a nitrogen deficiency.

Its principal ingredient, unlike bone meal, is nitrogen, with an NPK ratio of 5-2-2. It’s utilized to boost leaf and root development, as well as enhance soil structure. It also promotes the development of seedlings and fresh plants.

Scatter the Meal of fish pellets or powder onto the soil and mix into the soil carefully to ensure even distribution. Take care to work them into the top 1-inch layer of the soil. This should be done at least a week before the plantation.

Meal of Blood 

As the name suggests, Meal of Blood fertilizer is derived from the blood of animals from slaughterhouses. Its production involves heating of blood to high temperatures to evaporate water, sterilization, and drying followed by crushing.

This is a pure source of nitrogen with an NPK ratio of 13-0-0. It is used for the immediate replenishment of nitrogen content in the soil. Meal of Blood also lowers the pH value of the soil, making it acidic. Hence, its use can be favorable for acid-loving plants. 

In contrast to bone meal, Meal of Blood should never be used singly. It should always be blended with other suitable fertilizers to create a balance. In addition, one cup of Meal of Blood for every twenty square foot of soil is a good enough dosage.  

Remember: The over usage of Meal of Blood can have adverse effects on the plants. It can hinder flowering and fruiting, and in some cases, it can burn roots of the plants too. 

Meal of Feathers

Like other organic fertilizers derived from animals, Meal of Feathers is a product of the processing of feathers collected after poultry slaughtering. The feathers are subjected to extreme pressure and temperature and then crushed thoroughly to form a fine powder. 

Meal of Feathers acts as a nitrogen amendment and is known to have an NPK ratio of 12-0-0. The nitrogen content is in the form of keratin protein. For this reason, it cannot be readily absorbed by the plants because most of its nitrogen content is slowly released. 

The best way to add Meal of Feathers into the soil is to work it into the top few inches of the soil. Keep in mind, it is usually suggested to mix about 3 to 6 lbs. of Meal of Feathers per 100 square feet of the soil.

Remember: Meal of Feathers will take time to break down. Hence, refrain from adding too much of this fertilizer in hopes of getting faster results.

Meal of Alfalfa

Contrary to all other meals discussed above, Meal of Alfalfa is an organic fertilizer that is not derived from animals. It is, in fact, obtained from the fermentation of alfalfa plant seeds. Thus, this is a vegetarian alternative for organic farming.

The NPK ratio of alfalfa varies greatly depending on the source, but the average is approximately 3-1-3. It is an excellent natural fertilizer for blooming perennials and shrubs, despite its widespread usage in animal production. It’s also utilized to enhance the soil’s tilth.

Around bushes, 2 cups of alfalfa should be sprayed. Also, use a rake to incorporate it into the soil. The plants may then be watered as normal.

Note: Meal of Alfalfa is alkaline in nature. Therefore, make sure to not use it with plants that are acid-loving. 

Questions Frequently Asked

Is bone meal alkaline or acidic?

Bone meal is a weak base, so it won’t make the soil’s pH any lower than it currently is. As a result, it should only be used on acidic soils.

When should I feed bone meal to my plant?

Bone meal is usually administered from February to November. It may be applied before planting or throughout the growth season, depending on the plant.

Is it possible to use too much bone meal?

In general, no. Overfertilization is rare because soils can generally limit the amount of phosphorus released into them. Bone meal, on the other hand, should not be utilized on soils with acceptable phosphorus levels.

Things to Consider

The following are some major takeaways:

  • In acidic soils, bone should always be utilized.
  • It’s important to avoid using too much bone meal. It won’t harm the plants’ roots, but it will encourage algae development. It will also cause erosion and surface runoff.


To summarize, utilizing bone meal as a plant fertilizer requires extensive expertise and much work. Above all, it may be a simple remedy for phosphorus shortage as well as a beneficial soil addition. 

In the end, though, it all comes down to the unique features of the soil and plants you want to produce. As a result, understand all you can about bone meal before using it. 

We hope that this post has provided you with further information and guidance on how to use bone meal as a fertilizer.

Bonus Content: 2022’s Best Gardening Hand Tools

Bone meal fertilizer is a great way to add nutrients back into your garden. It also helps to keep the soil loose and aerated. Reference: how to make bone meal fertilizer.

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Emil Schoene

Born and raised in Austin, TX I come from a background of home renovation. By helping my family in my younger years with their construction business, I learned the ropes quickly and as I grew it became my passion that I still do today. Looking to share my knowledge with others. I invite you to leave comments on any post as I know you will have questions that you are not finding anywhere else.

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