Using bone meal with bulbs

Oklahoma City, OK(Zone 7a)

Does this really work in helping daffs bloom? I was just told that some of the bulbs I have (which are sending up foliage, but no flowers) need more nutrients in order to bloom and bone meal was suggested. It's cheap enough, but I'm guessing the flowers won't bloom until next year???


Annandale, VA(Zone 7a)


I see you're in Zone 8. I'm a northern gardener and as such, my daffs are still frozen in the ground! Bulbs need nutrients. I interplant them w/ other annuals/perennials so they receive these needed nutrients throughout the season because I fertilize regularily. In the spring, I give them a boost by broadcasting bone meal over the ground where I know they're planted.

I don't know if it's true, but my mother always said bulbs don't bloom well if they're planted too deep.

Also, I think tulips and daffs need a cold spell to bloom well...possibly your location may not provide those climatic conditions...I've heard that the warmer climates have difficulty growing bulbs.

Oklahoma City, OK(Zone 7a)

I've read the packages on everything to see what can and can't bloom, so I'm fairly certain of that. I have two packages of tulips in the fridge right now as they need 6 weeks of cold. :) I appreciate that comment, though, as I know that is something to keep in mind.

I think the bone meal will probably to the trick. They are in competition for the nutrients is my guess.

Annandale, VA(Zone 7a)

Another thing you might want to try...It's a tip I learned from a champion rose grower here in Minneapolis. He mixes Alfalfa meal (buys it in 40lb bags at the local seed Co-op) around his roses. Seems the Alfalfa contains a hormone that allows plants to take-in nutrients from other fertilizer sources much, much better. I grow some roses in amongst my other perennials and bulbs and broadcast the Alfalfa meal all over my gardens (like you'd do with the bone meal) and let the rain/sprinkler system create a "green tea" for the plants. My bulbs are Casablanca Lillies grow to 6'6" tall. I swear by this stuff and stock-up on a supply every spring.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Jardin, it isn't that I don't believe you butttt........
you have my mouth hanging open. Please say that you have (what is it?) a digital camera! I would love to see what Casablanc Lillies look like. And it sounds like you have a Texas size crop!
I think you are talking about every yr, not necessarily now. Please to take a pix & post it for us.

Oklahoma City, OK(Zone 7a)


Great idea. I'll try anything once. :) Now, just need to find a local source. Fortunately, I have a friend in the landscape business, so I'll ask him.

Awesome advice. Thanks so much.

Annandale, VA(Zone 7a)

Smockette & smiln32,

It's true about the Casablanca lilies. They were simply lovely last year. I did take a picture with my husband standing next to them and he's 6' tall. Wanted to give the picture human scale. I'll try to have him find the photo (don't think it was taken with our digital camera though...if it is done digitally, then he'll need to show me how to send a photo electronically...I'm not that talented, yet, with my computer skills! He is though). When I planted the bulbs (3 years) ago, they were the typical lily bulb size of maybe 1 1/2" - 2" in diameter. I transplanted the bed last fall and upon digging-up the bulbs found they had grown to 4" in dia. They were huge!

Other flowers grow big as well where I use the Alfalfa...Impatients 18"-24"h, regular Minnesota hardy garden Mums 3'h x 3'dia. (these are typically around 18"h x 18"dia). I have one Asiatic Lily clump that grew close to 6'h last summer...I'm 5'5" and it was taller than me! I swear by the Alfalfa stuff.

When I'm converting a sodded area to a flower bed, I need to amend the soil because I have a lot of clay. Here's when I buy the Alfalfa in pressed cube form (like horses eat). I take a large rubbish container (55 gal), pour in the cubes and fill the container w/ water and let the cubes hydrate. Then I roto-till the cubes into the soil along with smooth pea gravel...yes, pea gravel (about 3/16"-1/4" in dia). This is another tip to help loosen the soil and allow water to pass through. I learned it from a gardner in England. Think of putting your hand into a bowl of hard peas or beans and how easy it is to push them around. That's the same benefit of the smooth pea gravel in a dense helps to keep it loose. Most people advise digging-in peat moss. I've always found that it makes the soil rather gummy & dense after a couple of years. My pea gravel just keeps doing its job, year after year! It's important to get the smoothest gravel as possible though. There are many choices of "rocks" available from rock/sand suppliers, but if the gravel surface has sharp edges, it doesn't work as well. I tried some small lava rock one year and its rough surface only bound things together. So that didn't work!

In place of peat moss, I have a free (City provided)source of composted leaves/twigs. I dig this in as well. Also after you've dug the Alfalfa cubes in, I let everything sit for about a week and then do my plantings. You'll find that the Alfalfa will kind of ferment in the warm soil and it will have a bit of an odor...the flies and bees will also be attracted to it, but the smell will soon go away.

Finally, after all the plants have started to grow, don't forget to fertilize w/ whatever you normally use. The Alfalfa's job is to improve the plant's ability to absorb the fertilizer...thus the plants grow bigger and stronger.

Hope this has given you some ideas...They work for me in the short growing season here in Minnesota!!!

Franklin, MI(Zone 6a)

Just read the thread about Alfalfa. My rose "lady", recommends it highly, and the winter mulch she applies is horse manure, who were fed with alfalfa. I too, use it as a "sprinkle" fertilizer along with Epsom salts first thing in the spring. For the past 5 years, my roses have been mulched with this, so as it degrades into my soil, my roses get better and better.
BTW, if you can't find alfalfa at a "seed and feed" store, check out the big pet stores. You can get it in all forms there!

The picture below is of St. Swithin, a David Austin rose.

Thumbnail by springlover
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

springluver, welcome! That's a great shot, and I notice we don't have an image of 'Saint Swithin' in the PDB yet:

Would you care to add it? (It's pretty much like posting an image to a thread, as you did here, but if you get stuck or need help, just holler.)

And now "back to our regularly-scheduled programming" (read: discussing bone meal and alfafa meal, etc....) I'm going to be using alfalfa meal this year myself around my new rose bushes.

And smiln, to answer your question (albeit a bit late!) I personally use a fair amount of bone meal around any/all of my bulbs and bulb-type plants, including 30-some new hostas I set out this year - mixed it in well with the other amendments in the planting holes, hoping it'll provide a good dose of what makes plants grow up AND down (i.e., N & P ;o)

Garberville, CA(Zone 9a)

Why do you add Epsom Salts to your fertilizer for the roses? I haven't heard that one.

As for bulbs, I use a mixture of bone and blood meal for all of mine. When I plant new bulbs in the fall, I mix some in about an inch or two below the bulbs, so the roots grow into it.


Toronto, Canada(Zone 6a)

hi lori,
I'm told that the Mg in Epsom salts is vital for the production of chlorophyll.
I add bone meal to every hole I dig and ES around roses. I'm wondering if ES with Sulpher would help Rhodies.
zone 5b/6a

This message was edited Jun 23, 2004 12:00 AM

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Do you find that the bone meal and blood meal attract animals?

Absecon, NJ(Zone 7b)

I just noticed this Classic Thread about bone meal (2/2/02) and daffodils.

In this regard I have more than a thousand naturalized daffodils of a dozen or so varieties that bloom as like they are trumpeting to the world that spring has arrived and the earth is coming alive again.

I have realized this aspect of my landscape by dividing and transplanting about twenty percent of my daffodils each spring while they are still in bloom to assure color and variety, so to cluster the same varieties, since I find that such clustering really brings out their beauty as individuals as well as in solidarity. It also enables me to properly place them in borders or wherever based on size and delicacy of blooms. For example, near entry ways or along paths I place the smaller daintier ones, while the big and brighter guys like King Alfred are assigned to backgrounds or more distant vistas to beacon, then radiate as one gets closer to see what is lighting up a distant border or an otherwise glooming woods setting.

When transplanting I place each divided bulb (making certain if has roots Ė as we all know, the bulb is not a root, but a stem from which above ground leaves and flower stalks emerge. The roots are those hairy little things that emerge from the bottom of bulbs.) into its new hole after placing a pinch of bone meal at the bottom, then watering-in before backfilling. I find that bone meal works wonders (while not risking fertilizer burn) for root development over the summer to promote next year blooming and continued procreation. In no way do I prune off leaves -- although neighbors and relatives revel in the bouquets I remove from these transplants. Incidently, every, and I say every, transplant I do, no matter whether perennial or annual, potted or dug, at what time of year, gets a pinch or two of bone meal at the bottom of their new home.

I took some photos of the daffys this spring that you might like, but canít find them, Sorry. Probably overwrote the disc. Maybe next year...


Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)


I find it extremely interesting that you divide your daffs and transplant them while they are in bloom. That makes a lot of sense to me for the reasons you described.

I hope you find your photos. Everyone loves pics--especially of a thousand daffodils! (and I hope everyone reads your post and plants (even just a few) bulbs--it's so great to see them in the spring.) t

Aurora, TX(Zone 8a)

I never bothered w/bone or bloodmeal w/my bulbs, thinking that it was probably unnecessary. I was wrong. =) In the last couple of years, after NO luck w/my bulb-plantings, I gave in and did the bonemeal thing (along w/a sprinkle of superphosphate) in each hole. I know have successful plantings, and I actually get to see flowers! =)

Tabasco, I don't think animals are attracted to it--at least, my dogs & cat could care less, and the rotten voles & armadillos haven't touched my bulbs....instead, alas, uprooting everything else!! =/


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