Garden Myths - Learn the truth about gardening

Bone Meal Organic Fertilizer

Bone meal, also spelled bonemeal, is a recommended organic fertilizer that is a good source of phosphorous. Unless your soil test shows a deficiency of phosphorus don’t add it to the garden.

Bone meal organic fertilizer

Bone meal organic fertilizer

Bone Meal Myth

– Most garden soils do not have a phosphorus deficiency.

– Bone meal attracts animals to your bulbs making it more likely that the bulbs will be dug up. Bone meal is usually not needed for bulbs – that’s a myth.

– Excess phosphorus inhibits mycorrhizal fungi (ref 1) – which are an important part of the soil ecosystem.

– The phosphorus in bone meal is mostly non-soluble making it inaccessible to plants in the short term. It also moves through soil very slowly; mostly just siting there adding little value. Compost and organic matter are much better sources of phosphorus and if levels are very low use super phosphate as a fertilizer.


1) Bone meal Myths:

2) Photo Source: Phil Jackson

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Robert Pavlis
Editor of
I live in southern Ontario, Canada, zone 5 and have been gardening a long time. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

I hope you find Garden Myths an educational site that helps you understand your garden better.

9 Responses to 'Bone Meal Organic Fertilizer'

  1. Ari says:

    “Bone meal attracts animals to your bulbs making it more likely that the bulbs will be dug up. ”
    When there’s too much food you don’t need, you get something else that will eat it. Nothing goes to waste but why waste in the first place?

  2. sarah490 says:

    I just applied bonemeal to my blueberries under the impression that the plants “needed” it while fruit is developing. Should I scrape it off?

    • No – it probably will do no harm unless your soil has high levels of phosphorus already.

      • sarah490 says:

        Thanks. I have only 3 plants and so far they’re fruiting well and have a healthy look, mid greed color, no discoloration. Great site. Thank you for your information.

  3. choi says:

    does this apply to tropical soils as well? as I observed deficiencies in my vegetable plant that i thought were due to phosphorus.

    i live in malaysia with mostly acidic laterite soils and high rainfall.

  4. Has anyone else noticed that the gardening shows that promote ‘Bone Meal Organic Fertilizer’ and sponsored by the manufacturers of ‘Bone Meal Organic Fertilizer’?

  5. Inger says:

    I once added bonemeal to every bulb I planted, especially my lily bulbs. I always thought they looked especially good. but I have no proof,and I have given up on it because I plant so many bulbs it is not practical. This soil was very sandy so that might have been the reason