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Plant Nutrients - Bone Meal


Hi Everybody,

I recently published an article titled, Plant Nutrients – Part 1 – The Benefits of Bone Meal And Phosphorus For Plumeria Plants And Plants In General, and thought I post it here for everybody interested in the subject….

Bone meal consists of ground up bones and is used as an organic fertilizer. Bone meal is an excellent source of slow release Phosphorus which is one of the three macronutrients. The other two are Nitrogen and Potassium. These plant nutrients are called macronutrients as plants need a higher percentage of them compared to other nutrients for their development and growth process.

Bone meal doesn’t move well through the soil. Therefore it is best to add it at planting time by sprinkling it over and around the roots so that the plant nutrients will interact with the root system immediately and be most beneficial to plant’s overall development.

The ratio of the three macronutrients in bone meal is usually 4-14-0 meaning 4% Nitrogen, 14% Phosphorus and 0% Potassium. In addition, bone meal is also a good source of Calcium.

Phosphorus is essential for plants as it aids in root development, photosynthesis, energy transfer, cell division, flower production, transportation of plant nutrients and more. It combines with oxygen to form Phosphates.

The terms Phosphorus and Phosphate are used interchangeably.

Plumeria plants supplemented with bone meal have been known to have an increased flower production per plant. More flowers enhance the plumeria plant’s overall appearance and aesthetic quality. Some plumeria growers believe that fertilizers influence the color intensity and scent of some plumeria flowers.

One word of caution to gardeners who have dogs or other wildlife, such as raccoons, visit their gardens. Since bone meal is made from bones these animals are attracted to its scent. Gardeners need to be aware of this and watch for digging and other signs of destruction in their pots and in their gardens. Proper protective measures may be needed to save plumeria plants from these nosey critters.

Plant nutrients protect plants from a number of symptoms that negatively affect the healthy growth patterns of plants, including plumeria plants.

Phosphorus deficiency, for example, expresses itself in reduction of flower production, and in fruiting plants it results in less fruits.

Other signs of Phosphorus deficiency include older leaves showing a bluish coloration mixed with green, purple veins on the leaves or the entire leaf changes into a purple-like color, stunted growth and new stalks growing thin.

Calcium, another ingredient in bone meal, is called a secondary nutrient. Other secondary nutrients include Magnesium and Sulfur.

Calcium plays an important role in developing strong plants and strengthening cell walls.

Calcium deficiency manifests itself in local tissue necrosis, death of tissue, which eventually leads to stunted growth. Other signs of Calcium deficiency include necrotic leaf margins, curled leaves, demise of terminal buds and tips of the roots.

By applying bone meal to your plants, including plumeria plants, you ensure a steady release of Phosphorus over an extended period of time resulting in floriferous and thriving plants.

Part 2 of the series, Plant Nutrients, will focus on the benefits of Nitrogen and Potassium for plants, including sensuously perfumed plumeria plants.

Copyright © Bob Walsh

Plumeria ‘Samoan Fluff’, June 2011, Chicago, USA, Zone 5

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What are the USA temperature ranges for Zone 5 Bob ?
Do you grow Plumerias in a glass/heated greenhouse ?

17 Apr, 2012


Hi Diane,

Following is the link to the temperature range in Chicago, zone 5 >>>

Please copy and paste the link into your address bar.

I hope it's ok to post the link to the temperature range in this comment as this link is for information purposes only.

My plumeria plants are outdoors from May until October. During the colder months of the year I let the taller ones go dormant and the smaller ones continue to grow and flower under grow lights indoors.


Bob Walsh

17 Apr, 2012

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