Bone Meal – Everything You Need To Know


Bone meal is commonly used by organic gardeners. Phosphorous and calcium are the main nutrients present in it. Thus it adds phosphorus and calcium to the soil.

For gardening enthusiasts, the question arises.

  • What is bone meal?
  • How to use bone meal?
  • What are the benefits?
  • Is it safe to use bone meal?

Well, we are going to answer all the above questions. Just keep reading the article.

What is Bone Meal?

As the name suggests, the bone meal comes from the bones of animals.


Bone meal is in rich phosphorus (P). The phosphorous present in it releases slowly into the soil. This is usually known as phosphate or phosphorus.

Phosphorous helps the plant to grow better. It improves the nutrient uptake capacity of the soil. It helps in the flowering process of the plant. Also, the roots of plants develop and multiply at faster rates.

How Bone Meal is made?


Firstly bones from slaughterhouses are collected. Then these bones are steamed. This step is necessary to make the bones free of any infection or disease.

Secondly, the bones are put in a pulverizer. There, the bones are crushed into fine ground powder.

Finally, the powder is ready for use by gardeners.

Fish meal is also equally effective as other bone meals.

Benefits of using Bone Meal in Garden?

• Bone meal is an excellent source of phosphorus. It has 12 to 16% of phosphorus. It is beneficial for root crops such as onions, carrots, radishes, turnips, and parsnips. Flowers that grow from bulbs, tubers, and corns also benefit largely from its application.

• The phosphorus in it is present in a form that is easily available for plants to use.

• It is also an excellent source of calcium. calcium is a very important nutrient for strong plant growth.

• It protects plants under adverse weather conditions.

Bone meals also help plants to attain maturity quickly.

• It will not burn plants if you apply too much.

• A small number of essential nutrients like magnesium and zinc are also present in it.

• Some bone meals also contain nitrogen but in a small amount.

Things to do Before Adding Bone Meal

Get your Soil Tested

Before applying bone meal to your garden soil, Test your soil. It is a good option if your garden soil is quite low in phosphorus content.

This is because unlike the slow-acting Soft Rock Phosphate, it will act as a quick source of phosphorous for soil. 

What to do if My Soil pH is Higher than 7?

If the pH of your soil is more than 7, the phosphorus becomes bound up in the garden soil. Thus it becomes unavailable for your plants.

If the test results show that your soil is alkaline (above pH 7), firstly bring the pH levels down by adding peat moss, cottonseed meal, sulfur or aluminum sulfate.

What if my Soil is rich in Calcium or Phosphorus?

If your soil test shows that your soil has a sufficient amount of calcium or phosphorus, but lacks other nutrients, use other organic options to amend your soil such as humic acid, seaweed extract, cow manure, alfalfa meal or amino acids.

How to Use Bone Meal?

Adding bone meal to your garden soil is very easy.


• Add bone meal to your garden soil in amounts equal to 10 pounds to 100 per square feet. The phosphorous releases in the soil slowly for up to 4 months.

• Add it to the garden soil before you plant anything. This will help to nourish the plant effectively.

• Add 1/2 cup per cubic foot into the bottom of the plotting hole before the plantation.

• You can also sprinkle half of a cup of it over the plant roots. This helps in improving flowering and bud formation in plants.

• You can also apply it to big trees. Apply 1 pound for every 2 inches of the trunk diameter. Evenly spread it around the trunk.

Precautions while Applying Bone Meal to your Soil

1. Check the Soil pH Before Applying.

One of the most important things that you need to consider is the pH of the soil. Soil pH has to be below 7.0. Only then the nutrients in bone meals are easily available for the plant.

Alkaline soil will not see any benefit from its addition. This is because of their high calcium concentration; the phosphorus and calcium come together to form calcium phosphate. This calcium phosphate is unavailable to plants.

2. Using too much can Hinder Root Uptake.

The overuse of bone meal is not good. Over application can have negative effects on plant growth. Also, it disturbs the surrounding environment and ecosystem.


Most soils already contain some quantity of natural phosphorus. Only soil where farming has been done for many years may lack in phosphorus.

The overuse of phosphorus interferes in the relationship of roots with mycorrhizal fungi. As a result, root development becomes difficult. Also, the nutrient uptake power of roots decreases.

3. Lower the Pollution of Nearby Water Sources.

Having too much phosphorus in the soil is not good. It can also cause many problems for underground water sources and nearby waterways.

Phosphorus can attach itself to the soil particles. this soil may erode due to soil erosion. As a result, this can dissolve in the nearby rivers or lakes.

This dissolved phosphorus in the water causes eutrophication. This results in excess growth of algae and plants in water. Eventually, the level of oxygen in nearby water resources is depleted.

4. Mix well into the Soil to Prevent the Attraction of Animals.

As mentioned earlier, bone meal is applied by broadcasting it over the soil surface. Otherwise, it is applied at the bottom of holes when planting takes place.

When we use it as a top dressing, it attracts animals. Bone meals may attract coyotes, dogs or raccoons. It may also get the attention of other omnivorous animals or carnivorous.

If consumed in large quantities it can clump together in the animal’s digestive system. This may obstruct their intestinal tract. Make sure to mix it in the soil well.

This is possible by either raking or tilling the soil. After that just water the soil thoroughly. This will dissolve any powder left on the surface completely.


Bone meal is an excellent source of phosphorus for plants. Its slow releasing nature makes it useful for all crops and plants. Just follow a few precautions before and during applying it.

If you have any questions, Just comment below, and we will get to it.


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