Hostas, like almost all ornamental plants, need additional minerals to thrive. Of course, hostas can grow without fertilizer, but you still have to feed them to get great results. There is a huge variety of fertilizers nowadays and today we are going to talk about one of them.
You can definitely use a bone meal for your hostas. Actually, bone meal is very good for hostas because it contains minerals that are needed for normal growth. Use this product as indicated on the label and you will soon see the effect.
We will discuss this topic in more detail below. You will learn about the benefits of bone meal for hostas and what you have to beware of. We will also look at the different types of bone meal and how to use them.
What is a bone meal?
Bone meal is the ground bones of large animals. It is usually a secondary product of the meat industry. The bones are dried and ground into a meal so as not to go to waste.
This product is widely used in agriculture because it contains useful substances. Thanks to it plants grow better and healthier.
In addition, bone meal is used in the pet industry. It is the basis of many pet foods. Its benefits are obvious because it contains calcium, which is vital for pets.
Nowadays this product is used as a slow-release fertilizer. This is not surprising since it can provide plants with the necessary nutrients for faster growth. You can buy it at almost any garden store or online.
What effect does bone meal have on hostas?
Because bone meal contains a lot of phosphorus, it provides plenty of this element for your hostas. The phosphorus will give your hosta a large and healthy root system. The consequence is that the plant will thrive overall.
The second element that bone meal contains is calcium. Calcium is needed to make the petioles and leaves tougher. As a result, the petioles will not break even in strong winds.
As for nitrogen, the bone meal contains little of it. If you decide to use this fertilizer you need extra nitrogen, and we will talk about this in the next chapter.
The advantage of bone meal is that it is a slow-release fertilizer. So apply it once and it lasts for a while, which is very convenient.
It is also an organic fertilizer, which is an important factor for many gardeners. Indeed, in many cases, it is better to use organic fertilizers instead of synthetic ones.
How do you use a bone meal for hostas?
Because bone meal contains a lot of calcium it can only be used in acidic soil. Otherwise, it will not decompose in the soil and will not be useful.
Buy a soil pH test kit before using the bone meal. Then test the pH of your soil. In general, it is recommended to use bone meal if the soil pH<7.0. However, in the case of hostas, this product is best used if soil pH<6.0 because hostas like slightly acidic soil.
The second thing to consider is that the bone meal should be very finely ground. It will then break down and become available to the hosta over some period of time. Otherwise, the breakdown process can be very long.
Also, bone meal is low in nitrogen, so don’t use it without additional nitrogen fertilizer. Buy granular nitrogen fertilizer and use it as the label says.
Apply bone meal in early spring to keep it in the soil throughout the season. Spread one tablespoon under each hosta and mix it into the soil.
One tablespoon once a year is enough. Don’t expect results very quickly because this product is slow.
There is something to be said about the liquid bone meal. This product works faster than pellets. So if you want to get results sooner use the liquid version.
Can bone meal harm hostas?
Bone meal is not capable of directly damaging your hostas. It is not aggressive and will not burn the leaves or roots like vinegar, for example.
However, if your soil is slightly alkaline and you apply bone meal, it will become more alkaline. The same can happen if you use too much or too often bone meal in neutral soil, it just becomes too alkaline.
In very alkaline soil, the hosta will lose its ability to absorb nitrogen and some other minerals for photosynthesis. This will lead to chlorosis, or simply put, yellowing of the leaves.
To avoid this, do not use bone meal if the soil pH>6.0. Also, don’t apply more than 1 tablespoon per plant once a year. Be sure to use additional nitrogen fertilizer in conjunction with the bone meal.
The second problem can be Mad Cow Disease. This disease affects great cattle and humans. There is no direct evidence that the disease can be transmitted through the use of the bone meal.
However, you cannot be 100% sure that the cattle from which the bone meal is made have not been infected and that the disease will not be transmitted to you.
Are there alternatives to bone meal for hostas?
The first alternative to the bone meal is compost. Compost is made from plant material so it is preferable for hostas. Compost has a lot of nitrogen, which is a very crucial factor for large leaves.
It is important that you get quality compost from a reliable supplier. The compost should be made from pure raw material with the right technology. Otherwise, there could be problems.
The second substitute for a bone meal is a slow-release fertilizer. This product is excellent for hostas. All you have to do is apply it early in the spring and the hostas will be well-supplied for the whole growing season.
Make sure the fertilizer contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and magnesium. The nitrogen portion of the fertilizer should not be too high. Otherwise, the hosta may not develop properly.
Avoid using a slow-release fertilizer in the second half of the season. Otherwise, it can cause young shoots to grow. These shoots will suffer frost damage in early winter.