Sparrow and Finch Gardening Busting the Garden Myth

Busting the Garden Myth


It is possible that the addition of bone meal (bonemeal) in the planting of bulbs in the fall can stimulate root growth and encourage big blooms in spring. It’s an untrue common gardening misconception. In the best case, adding bone meal is not beneficial to the plant and, at worst, could cause serious problems dependent on the soil you have.

If you look up the subject online, you’ll get a ton of information from fertilizer companies advertising their products. Gardeners’ blog posts making the same claims similar to those of fertilizer companies. It is claimed that phosphorous, the principal element in the bone meal increases root growth and boosts flowers. However, if you look into the science, you’ll see that in the majority of soils, bone meal isn’t needed. The majority of garden soils found in North America have sufficient amounts of calcium and phosphorous. The problem is that an excess of soil phosphorous may cause harm to the plants you plant.

There are a variety of studies that endorse the usage of bone meal on farms. These studies usually focus on particular crops that have specific quantities of bone meal, or meat bone meal (MBM) added to the soil of farms. The research studies are not applicable to your garden at home because gardeners tend to grow plants in very different conditions that farmers do. The crops of a farmer draw the most nutrients from soil than Hyacinths, roses and radishes, or pepper plants in a backyard garden. What’s great for the farm may not be necessarily a good idea for a backyard garden.

The bone-meal fertilizer is made up of?

The name implies that bone meal is made up of broken bones. The organic fertilizer that has significant amounts of phosphorous and calcium. Phosphorous is essential for flower growth, root growth and other plant functions and is among the three essential nutrients needed to grow plants together with potassium and nitrogen 

In the late 19th century, farm soils were beginning to become less productive. For a long time the fields of farms were fertilized by livestock manure which mainly contains potassium and nitrogen. Since the crops consumed the phosphorous that was in the soil, it was not replenished, making soils of the farm less fertile. The soil scientist suggested in the early days that pulverizing the bones of dead animals into”meal “meal” and then adding it to the soil could boost fertility, which did (they actually added bone meal from meat but not that the bone meal we have to gardeners today). The first synthetic fertilizer containing phosphate was accessible in the early 20th century the use of bone meal decreased.


What is the reason to use the bone meal you find in your backyard?

It is possible to rephrase the headline Why should you add fertiliser to the organic gardens you have? The answer is always and will be to boost the amount of nutrients from the soil. If a nutrient does not absent from the soil, then there is no way that an fertilizer is going to be a huge help for the plant during this growing time. The fact is that fertilizers can’t “supercharge” or “stimulate” growth, they simply aid it. One way to determine exactly what isn’t missing is to 

If one fertilizer is effective, then more is better, or so? No, exceeding guidelines for fertilizers will not benefit plants in any way. The recommendations are in accordance with the conditions of your soil and provide nutrients within the most optimal ranges for plant usage. Over-exceeding this limit will not yield benefits and may cause deficiencies in nutrients because excesses of certain nutrients could result in poor uptake by other nutrients. Furthermore, excess nutrients may be discarded to the environment, and can degrade rivers and streams.


Bone meal may be harmful to plants.

Soluble phosphorous is only one form of phosphorous used by plants. It takes years for it to form because soil microbes degrade bone meal, fertilizers as well as organic matter.

As a whole plants, they have a difficult time taking up soluble phosphorous from the soil. To obtain the phosphorous they require to thrive, they develop symbiotic relationships that they share with mycorrhizal fungi. you can learn in detail here. The fungi attach themselves to root of the plant and are efficient in extracting nutrients from the soil. The fungi transfer the phosphorous soluble to the plant via the roots in exchange for sugars extracted from the plant.

In most soils throughout North America with a neutral pH, or alkaline pH it is necessary to add bone meal during the time of planting around the tulip bulb but it will not help the tulip much in the next spring. The phosphorous that you added is unobtainable to plants for many years since it’s not yet insoluble.

If you do have soil that is acidic (low pH)and low phosphorous, the bone meal phosphorous becomes soluble in a short time and is easily accessible to the plant (chemistry is at work!). Since the plant no longer requires the mycorrhizal fungi connection and stops interacting to them and the fungi dies without sugars in the plant. Without the fungi, the plant is forced to dedicate more resources to root growth in order to perform other functions of the plant.

When plants are living in environments with low phosphorus in the soil, they exude organic acids from the tips of their roots. These acids permit mycorrhizal fungal species to get into the roots and create the network that assists the plant roots in absorbing the water and nutrients. Mycorrhizae have a particular knack for getting rid of phosphorus from soil.

If the phosphorus levels are excessively high, however the roots are unable to produce organic acids and mycorrhizal connections don’t appear. This causes the plant to increase the amount of resources it puts into the growth of roots to make up for the absence of mycorrhizae.

In this way that phosphorus may enhance root growth, however, it comes at a cost on the plant. The resources used by the plant to grow new roots to take their place in mycorrhizae is not used for other plant needs.


The addition of bone meal won’t result in bigger roots and larger blooms.

All the components in fertilizer function in harmony in plants. Too small or too much of a element can affect the plant’s function. So, your plants won’t produce more robust roots and blooms unless there are adequate amounts of potassium and nitrogen to help aid in high growth and other tasks. If you have more phosphorous in your soil than what the plant requires and the plant can’t make use of it. In addition, phosphorous is seldom removed from soil by the weather, and only gets through it. If there’s enough fertilizer in your garden now, it will likely be plenty of years to come.

Related Post: How to Grow Strawberries in Your Garden

Resources for: A Few Garden Myths and What Research has to say, Oregon State University Extension Service What is Bone Meal good for your garden What is the best way to use it? Garden Myths; Should I use Bone Meal in the Garden when I Plant My Spring Blooming Bulbs What do you think? University Of New Hampshire; Fertilizing Flower Gardens and Avoid Too A Lot of phosphorus University of Massachusetts Amherst; Bone meal Wikipedia.

About The Author

Todd Heft is a lifelong gardener and is the editor of the Big Blog of Gardening. He resides in Lehigh Valley, PA with his wife who cooks up amazing meals using the organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs he cultivates. When he’s not writing or studying the benefits of organic gardening, you can find him in the garden. The book he wrote, Homegrown Tomatoes: The Step-by-Step Guide for Growing Organic and Delicious Tomatoes in your Garden can be purchased for purchase on

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