Fertilizer for Nerine

J.E. Shields jshields@indy.net
Fri, 29 Mar 2013 10:41:15 PDT

A. R. Rees, "The Growth of Bulbs"  Academic Press (1972)

A. de Hertogh and M. Le Nard, "The Physiology of Flower Bulbs"  Elsevier (1993)

Bulbs, like most plants, use Phosphate (P) in much smaller amounts than 
they use Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K).  Plants grown in soil need 
relatively little additional P in most cases.  Plants grown in artificial 
media need continuous but still not large amounts of P in their fertilizer.

Bone meal, depending on how it is processed, may contain small amounts of N 
and of K.   N and K are both quite soluble, and whether in soil or in 
artificial media, both need to be continuously replenished as they are 
washed away.  P forms insoluble complexes in soil with Calcium (Ca), 
Magnesium (Mg), Manganese (Mn), and Iron (Fe).  Once applied to a flower 
bed, P remains bound in place, slowly being re-released for many 
years.   Continuously adding more P to soil tends to tie up most of the Ca 
and all of the Fe and Mn.  This is not good, and is a waste of increasingly 
hard to get Phosphate.

I find it interesting that gardeners and even educated horticulturalists 
still use names like "muriate of potassium" or "sulfate of potash" which 
went out of use in chemistry in the late 19th century.  Quaint.

Wood ashes are a good source of Potassium (K), in the form of potassium 
carbonate (a.k.a. "potash") which is also very caustic.  Use wood ashes 
very, very cautiously unless your soil is extremely acidic.  Don't wash 
your hands in a strong solution of wood ashes unless you want to remove 
most of the skin. I wouldn't use wood ashes directly on any plant bed, not 
even at gun-point.

Jim Shields

At 10:00 AM 3/29/2013 -0700, you wrote:
>Bone meal has long been considered the traditional bulb fertilizer.  My 
>experience is that bulbs really like bone meal.  But it is high in P and 
>has almost no K.  How do we know that K is a key bulb nutrient?  Are there 

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5
P.O. Box 92              WWW:    http://www.shieldsgardens.com/
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Lat. 40° 02.8' N, Long. 086° 06.6' W

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