Bone meal - the smell

hoohooJune 15, 2009

Hi All,

Let me start off by saying that I'm fairly new to plant care of any kind. Yesterday whilst at the supermarket I came by bone meal in the gardening section and as I'd seen it mentioned quite a few times for potting mixes on this and various internet sites I purchased a box.

After doing some research on line on how to use it (and noticing vCJD mentioned somewhere along the way) I decided to repot some of my plants with a little bone meal mixed in.

The first thing that hit me when I opened the box was the smell. I know it's a bit extreme but I couldn't help thinking at the time that the smell reminded me of death. I persevered and ended up repotting several plants (most of which are quite small and young). Later on, I tried to think of a better way to describe it as my initial thought was putting me off my plants. Now I liken my plants to smelling like a petshop.

My question is, will the smell fade over time and will the bonemeal get flushed out each time I water? Further searches on the internet has spewed up a plethora of discussions on vCJD and being in the UK I'm a bit nervous with continuing use of the bonemeal. In fact, I have thrown the box away now but have stopped short of repotting again. I'm hoping the bonemeal will be used up in time and the smell will go away.

The plants are various dracaenas and various sized jades.

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From my understanding bonemeal is used for *outdoor* gardening, primarily.

Personally, the notion of bonemeal creeps me way the heck out and I wouldn't use it, even if it WAS really good for the plants.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 8:20PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Bone meal breaks down soo slowly that it's really not an effective way to deliver nutrients to plants in container culture.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 9:51AM
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Oh dear, I will have to put it down to experience once again. I'm slowly making my list through the 'what not to do's of house plant care. My first was root rot (how can misting a kalanchoe every morning be bad for it, I thought. It worked wonders for my lucky bamboo when I lived at my parents' )

Thanks for the replies. On the plus side, I don't feel like getting up close and personal with these plants any more. Maybe this will be the final mistake that will make me stop fussing over them so much. My flowering plants have been left untouched so I hope that this will encourage me even more to leave well alone!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 5:05PM
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Hi Hoohoo. Do you have any idea how much Blood Meal you used per pot?
Like any other substance, the odor will fade as time goes by, but good luck J/K
Most plant experts suggest mixing Bone Meal into soil for bulbs and outdoor use, but don't be alarmed. I too have used bone meal for house plants, aside from a few days of stink, and it does smell, my plants looked great afterwards. lol.
To this day I'd rather breath in the scent of an organic than any chemical made for greens. Toni

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 7:31PM
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I used about a level teaspoon for the 4 1/2" pots and for the smaller ones, a 'dash' - there's really no method to my madness! I think I will bear with it and let the smell fade. It is whiffy only if I am close to the plants now. Thanks for the reassurance.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 3:04PM
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I hope you are not thinking of putting these plants outdoors with the bonemeal in them.

When I use to grow my plants this way a few years ago, I did the same as you. When I stuck them outdoors, the critters, especially the racoons and varmits, smelled the meal a mile away! They came and knocked them all over and dug for the meal and ruined all the roots..Imagine what happend..
The ones that did survive that year, got infested with flies by the time I brought them in at summers end..
I would just use a great soiless mix and good fertilizer such as FP...or some other water soluable well balanced feed..;-)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 6:18PM
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Hoohoo, the amount you used isn't much.
Mike, good point. When I added Bone and Blood Meal in soil it was still too early to take plants outside. By the time it warmed up, the smell was gone, so no problem.
But, both bags were placed in the shed, and something, possibly mice, tore bags, ate this stuff, and made a huge mess. But they preferred the Blood Meal. Yuck! So, if you have excess, if possible, place in a container with tight fitting lid. Toni

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 3:05PM
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Well, the smell has mostly gone. Every now and then I do catch a whiff of it especially when I am watering. Just hope it is not a case of becoming too familiar with the smell to notice as my friends are coming round this weekend!

There is no question of me putting the plants outdoors as I live in a 3rd floor flat/apartment. All the plants are by windows which I leave open during the day. Fortunately, I don't seem to have a bug problem just yet.

2 of the jade plants appear to be doing particularly well but this could also be down to the sun we have been getting recently. One dracaena dropped 2 leaves and is droopy but then it has had an on-off problem with root mealy.

I have no more excess as I have thrown the whole box away.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 4:26PM
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