Adding bone meal around your spring-blooming bulbs was formerly believed sage advice, but recommendations shifted together with bone meal processing. Bone meal can be used when bulb plans call for boosting nutrients, but additional fertilizers provide more complete nutrition. Depending on whether lights have been grown as annuals or perennials, bone meal or other fertilizers may not be needed in any way.
Bone meal started as a simple product as essential as its title. Ground animal bones produced a phosphorus- and calcium-rich fertilizer. Because potassium promotes healthy root growth and flowering, gardeners used bone meal for bulbs, especially at night. Modernization and cleanliness in bone meal processing changed the final result. Cleaned, sterilized bones offer a safer product, but the nutritional value is depleted. Though modern products vary, bone meal typically supplies low nitrogen, higher phosphorus and no potassium in a 3-15-0 fertilizer that slowly releases over one to four months. In alkaline soil, bone meal’s nutrients may be unavailable for plant use.
Healthy, first-year bulbs come fully fueled with everything they need and use their first season. Bulbs don’t benefit from added bone meal until the subsequent year. When bulbs are grown as annuals in mild-winter climates, bone meal and other fertilizers are unnecessary. Warm-climate gardeners prechill bulbs before yearly plantings to compensate for lack of winter. Tulip bulbs (Tulipa spp.) , suited for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8, need extra chilling to bloom in warmer regions. Frequent hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis, USDA zones 3 through 9) and lots of varieties of daffodils (Narcissus spp., USDA zones 3 through 11) necessitate cold, also.
When bulbs can successfully overwinter in the garden, fertilizers help restore and refuel them. A gentle, balanced dose of nutrition meets all of the bulbs’ needs. Apply a two- to 3-inch layer of organic compost or well-rotted manure when bulb leaves first appear in spring, and repeat the application again in fall. At flowering, nutritional supplement nutrition using a bloom-enhancing, nitrogen-free fertilizer that provides both iron and potassium. For example, sprinkle 1 cup of granular, 0-10-10 fertilizer over every 25 square feet of wax. Work it slightly to the soil, and water the area well. While bone meal can be used to provide phosphorus, bulbs benefit from more complete nutrition.
Beyond its nutritional value, bone meal presents a few other concerns — especially if your household includes pets. By its nature, bone meal draws animals that are brought to bones. Including skunks, raccoons along with the family. Lured from the scent, animals dig bulb plantings in search of bones. Given access to bagged bone meal, they may eat considerable amounts of the item, leading to serious medical ailments. Faced with bone meal-laced soil, dogs may eat considerable amounts of soil or consume the bulbs that scent of bone. Many spring-blooming bulbs, including daffodils and tulips, are very poisonous when ingested.