Can I use bone meal fertilizer for peonies? Let’s find out.
Hint: Yes! You can.
But before moving ahead, let me introduce peonies to you.
Peonies are flowering plants with big, fluffy, and fragrant flowers. The best part?
They produce large single and double flowers of pink, white, rose, and crimson colour in later spring or early summer.
I will explain all this to you in detail. But first, let me introduce the bone meal fertilizer.
What is Bone Meal Fertilizer?
As the name suggests, this fertilizer is made from animal bones.
The animal bones are steamed before being ground into a fine powder. As you already know, fertilizers increase the fertility of soil or land.
We have two types of fertilizers:
- Inorganic: They are manufactured artificially and contain synthetic chemicals.
- Organic: They contain only plant or animal-based materials. They result from naturally occurring processes, such as leaves, manures, and compost.
Note that the bone meal fertilizer is organic.
Can you guess the composition of the bone meal fertilizer?
It contains around 12% calcium. Remember that most bone meal fertilizers have an NPK ratio around 3-15-0.
Let me explain.
NPK shows the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. In short, it contains:
- Nitrogen: 3%
- Phosphorus: 15%
- Potassium: 0%
Here’s how these nutrients are essential for peonies.
Here’s a thing.
Nitrogen is essential in a moderate amount. This is because excess nitrogen promotes leafy growth instead of blooms for peonies.
The bone meal fertilizer is ideal as it only contains 3% nitrogen (roughly).
Amazing isn’t it?
Plus, nitrogen encourages shrubs to grow faster.
This is because it is a source of energy for metabolic processes, such as respiration and photosynthesis, in plants.
You should know that nitrogen is a component of chlorophyll. Plants make sugars through photosynthesis using chlorophyll.
This makes nitrogen great for flowering plants.
To be precise, nitrogen makes amino acids, proteins, nucleic acid, and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).
Summary: Nitrogen is essential for plant developmental processes, such as flowering. It also encourages lush foliage growth.
Now let’s talk about phosphorus.
Bone meal is rich in phosphorus. But, why is it important for peonies?
It plays a vital role in photosynthesis, flower, root, and seed production, and energy transfer within the plant.
Moreover, phosphorus promotes flowering, leads to higher seed and fruit yield, and increases pest and disease resistance.
Great for peonies, isn’t it?
This mineral is a major component of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). It is a structure that provides energy to the plants.
Note: Peonies take up phosphorus in its primary forms. These are called orthophosphates, H2PO4– and HPO42-.
Now, let’s talk about calcium.
The bone meal fertilizer contains around 12% calcium. Here’s why it is important.
We already know that calcium builds strong bones. Right?
In plants, it keeps the cell wall strong and healthy. Plus, it promotes sturdy growth.
To be precise, calcium encourages strong roots, improves root growth, and helps prevent blossom end rot.
Remember that calcium deficiency inhibits the growth of your plant. This causes it to have a “bushy appearance”.
Summary: Calcium has a structural role in the cell wall and membrane.
Can I Use Bone Meal Fertilizer For Peonies?
Yes! This organic option is great for peonies.
Overview: You can use bone meal fertilizer for peonies. The high phosphorus content allows them to produce vivid blooms. Plus, calcium has an important role in flower development. The natural decomposition process feeds the microbes which maintain your soil health.
Let me explain all this in detail.
- It is organic.
This makes bone meal extremely effective. It is completely free of chemicals.
Plus, the natural decomposition process feeds the microbes in the soil. Remember that microbes maintain your soil health.
The best part?
It contains micronutrients like iron, zinc, and magnesium that allow your peony plant to produce vivid blooms.
Remember that it improves the overall quality and structure of the soil.
The idea is that peonies are “safe”. This is because it doesn’t burn it if too much bone meal is accidentally applied.
Amazing isn’t it?
- It is a slow-release fertilizer.
As the name suggests, it releases nutrients over a course of time. This is great for peonies as they do not have a high nutritional requirement.
This increases soil microbes throughout the growing season. As I mentioned earlier, microbes improve the soil structure.
Well, what does this mean?
This simply means that the bone meal fertilizer does not need frequent applications.
It is a perfect long-term fertilizer as it slowly breaks down throughout the season. In short, it feeds peonies regularly.
This takes us straight to our next point.
- It is rich in calcium.
As I mentioned earlier, calcium is essential for peonies. Here’s why.
Calcium has important roles in flower development, cell integrity, and cell signalling.
Note that cell signalling is the ability of plants to coordinate their activities in response to changes.
This simply means that calcium is required during plant growth.
To be precise, calcium helps peonies to build strong cell walls that keep them upright. It also helps them to transport other minerals throughout the plant.
Amazing, isn’t it?
- It is rich in phosphorus.
As we discussed earlier, the moderate nitrogen and high phosphorus content make bone meal fertilizer great for flowering plants.
The idea is that phosphorus allows peonies to produce vivid blooms.
Plus, it increases pest and disease resistance. Great for peonies, right?
- You can amend your soil with bone meal.
Let me explain.
Remember that bone meal balances out other high nitrogen, organic soil amendments.
For example, you can mix the bone meal with additives like manure that have high nitrogen. Plus, rotted manure lacks significant amounts of phosphorus.
This quality makes bone meal fertilizer great for peonies.
With this, let’s move on to the next topic.
How and When To Fertilize Peonies:
We can use the bone meal fertilizer for peonies. But, how? Here’s what you should know.
- Perform a soil test.
As the name suggests, it determines the fertility of your soil. Let me explain.
It typically evaluates pH, organic matter, buffer pH and more.
In this way, you can determine the amount of fertilizer to use. After a soil test, move on to the next step.
- Use 3 cups for every 100 square feet of soil.
This is a general application rate for the bone meal fertilizer.
Start by sprinkling the bone meal. Then, mix it evenly so that it distributes throughout the soil.
- If we talk about planting peonies, space them 3 to 4 feet apart.
Can you guess why is this important?
According to my experience, this allows good circulation of air. Remember that stagnant humid air can allow the disease to develop.
Note: Do not plant too deep.
After planting your peonies, move on to the next step.
- Now, water it thoroughly.
This will ensure that the nutrients reach the root system of the plant.
- For liquid fertilizer:
Let’s say that you are using a liquid fertilizer instead of powder. Here’s what you should know.
Dissolve it at a ratio of four to eight tablespoons per gallon of water.
Then, you can apply it to your garden beds weekly. Remember that this should be done throughout the growing season.
Peony plants require little maintenance. So, you do not have to fertilize them regularly.
Let me explain.
- Fertilize in spring.
In spring, new growth starts. This means that nutrient uptake begins as the soil temperature increases.
At this stage, the stems are about a foot tall (30 cm).
Important note: The bone meal fertilizer takes around 4 months to completely break down in the soil. So, do not reapply within this period.
You can also apply bone meal in later summer or early fall to prepare the roots for winter. But, this is usually done with inorganic fertilizers.
In short, you need one application per growing season.
Note: If you are planting peonies, here are some things that you should know.
They require good drainage. Plus, peonies prefer humus-rich, deep, fertile, and most soils.
Remember that full sun is better for peonies as they bloom best in sunny spots. However, this is not the case in the South.
This takes us straight to our next topic.
We have discussed how the bone meal fertilizer is good for peonies.
But, nothing is perfect.
Here are some drawbacks.
- It is not suitable for alkaline soils (pH above 7).
Well, this is interesting.
According to studies reported by Colorado State University, the phosphorus content is only available to plants in acidic soils.
If your soil is alkaline, I recommend you use a different fertilizer to decrease the pH. This is because the bone meal is not effective in alkaline soils.
Applying bone meal to alkaline soil will cause phosphorus to build up.
- Overfertilization can harm your plant.
Inorganic fertilizers can burn your plant. But, bone meal will not burn your plant if added in excess.
But, here’s a problem.
Overfertilization pushes out other nutrients that your plant needs.
- It is not preferred by vegan gardeners.
This is because the bone meal is an animal-derived fertilizer.
Note that Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or “mad cow disease” can pass through bone meal.
The powder can also damage your lungs if inhaled accidentally.
On the other hand, you may require soil additives to provide necessary nutrients to the plant.
This takes us straight to our next topic.
How To Make Bone Meal Fertilizer (At Home):
You have decided to use the bone meal fertilizer for peonies.
Now the question is, how to make it? Here’s the step-by-step guide.
Selection of bones:
This is important as different types of bones can give different results.
I recommend you go with the beef bone. You may also use chicken bones as they are easier to break.
Now, move on to the second step.
Cleaning of bones:
In this step, you are going to remove any remnants of meat and fat from the bones.
You can use a sharp knife. If this is not effective, simply pressure cook the bones for five minutes.
Then move on to the third step.
Baking the bones:
After cleaning the bones, bake them at 400-450°F for an hour.
This makes them dry and fragile so that they can be easily broken. After baking them, allow them to cool.
Breaking And Grinding:
Now, place the bones in a plastic bag. Then, break them into small pieces with a hammer.
They can be an inch long.
When you are done breaking the bones, transfer them to a blender and grind them to form a fine mixture.
The powder is ready! You can use this organic option to grow plants.
Pretty simple, isn’t it? Now, let’s move on to the next topic.
Can I Use Bone Meal Fertilizer For Roses?
Yes! It is a good option for roses.
As you already know, bone meal is a source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium. All these are important for roses.
Plus, it is easily absorbed in powder form.
This makes bone meal good for roses, trees, vegetables, and some shrubs.
You simply have to sprinkle it around the base of the rose bush.
If I talk about the application rate, apply the first layer in the early spring. Then re-apply it in the fall after the first frost of the season.
So, there you have it.
Can I use bone meal fertilizer for peonies? Yes!
To recap, bone meal is a source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium. This is great for peonies.
However, there are some drawbacks as well. Overall, I recommend you try this organic option.
If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. Stay tuned for more.