How to Use Fertilizers: Bone Meal

How to Use Fertilizers: Bone Meal

What is Bone Meal?

All of your plants will appreciate a feeding of organic bone meal garden fertilizer! Especially potatoes, onions, garlic, flowering plants and bulbs.

What is bone meal? It's exactly what it sounds like: pulverized animal bones. These are usually from cattle, as a byproduct of meat production. Another alternative is fish bone meal. Both provide equivalent benefits to your soil.

How Is Bone Meal Made?

To make bone meal, the leftover bones (which have had all meat removed) are cleaned by boiling or steaming. Then, they are dried and ground into a fine powder. The powder is typically sold as is, or may be pelletized or liquefied.

What Does Bone Meal Give to the Garden?

  • The primary benefit of using bone meal in your garden is to provide your plants with an excellent source of phosphorus, a key element plants need for flowering, fruiting and rooting.

  • Bone Meal contains 12 to 16% phosphorus.

  • Phosphorus in bone meal is in a form that is especially easy for plants to utilize

  • It is also a good source of calcium, which is an important nutrient for strong plant growth.

  • Some bone meals contain nitrogen as well, but never a significant amount.

What to do Before Adding Bone Meal

Open 5lb box of Down to Earth Bone Meal 3-15-0 spilled onto the soil  with garlic bulbs, cloves, and leaves on lying next to it.

Before applying soil amendments to your garden, have your soil tested. Bone meal only works in acidic soil. It is a good choice if your soil has a pH below 7, or is low in phosphorus. Unlike slow-acting Soft Rock Phosphate, it will provide a quick source for deficient soils.

What to do if my soil pH is high?

If your pH is higher than 7, your soil contains high amounts of calcium. Phosphorus will become bound up in the soil and not be available for your plants. If your test results show alkaline soil (above pH 7), bring the pH levels down first by adding Cottonseed Meal, Peat MossSoil Sulfur, or Acid-Loving fertilizers.

What if my soil is good in calcium or phosphorus?

If your soil test indicates that you have sufficient calcium or phosphorus, but not the other, you might instead consider a more targeted solution such as a high-phosphorus guano, Oyster Shell Flour or another organic fertilizer high in calcium.

Tips in Adding Bone Meal to Your Soil

  • When applying bone meal to your garden, be sure to mix it into the soil and not just top-dress. The scent of bone meal can attract wildlife such as raccoons, coyotes, and feral dogs. These scavengers may wreck havoc in your garden beds as they look for the source of the odor.

  • Store your fertilizer away safely. Your own pets may think it smells like a tasty snack. Although bone meal is not toxic, it can lead to life-threatening impactions in the gut if your pets get ingest the organic fertilizer.

  • To use bone meal, apply 5 to 10 pounds per 100 square feet, or 1 to 2 Tablespoons per planting hole for bulbs and transplants.

  • You can also mix it into potting soil at ½ cup per cubic foot.

  • To apply to trees, use 1 pound per 2-inches of trunk diameter, and spread it evenly from the trunk to the drip line.

Bone meal is particularly good for helping your flowers bloom, and garlic and onions grow big. All organic gardening will appreciate the phosphorus and calcium it provides.

Feed your plants the best, and grow organic for life!

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Rose, please read the product label for directions on frequency of application.


How often can liquid bonemeal be used as a soil soak? Weekly, monthly, every few days?

Rose Lee

hmm… bone meal hasn’t crossed my mind. But now this gives me an idea, and tips too! I will gladly follow, thank you so much! Nice article by the way.


Really good article. It’s gonna be the first time I’m using bone meal and I now know how to use it perfectly :)
Thank you!!!

Ram Naidu

Sipho, without looking at the worms, it is impossible to tell what they are. They would not be coming from the bone meal, since it is processed and dried. If you are worried you can move the garlic to new soil.


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