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Well-rotted manure for plant food?

Hi, me again!  Very soon I'll be removing the top 5cm soil from my potted plants (including our three-year-old Acer) and replacing it with fresh compost.  Instead of using general-purpose fertiliser, would it be ok to incorporate some well-rotted manure to give the potted plants some nutrition for the coming season?  I prefer not to use chemicals where possible, so thought manure would be more natural and ok?  Many thanks in advance.  :)


  • Hampshire_HogHampshire_Hog Posts: 1,089
    Well rotted manure has a PH of about 6.7 so slightly acid depending on what the different plants require as its a top dressing it should work if you do need to adjust it there are lots of natural chemicals (sulphur and limestone are the two I use) available at local GC just add in according to instructions and maybe purchase a soil testing kit or instrument.

    Image result for ph chart colours

    "You don't stop gardening because you get old, you get old because you stop gardening." - The Hampshire Hog
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,699
    All my plants are in pots and I have only ever topped up with compost every year and I seldom feed my plants unless I see signs or have an issue. Normally, it works well. I would be cautious to use rotted manure as a new layer unless it's totally well rotted down and not horse manure that usually results in weeds in your soil. Manure works better if mixed with your soil, but I think that might be a bit more work for you than laying a new fresh cover.
  • Hampshire_HogHampshire_Hog Posts: 1,089
    edited March 2019
    Weeds from horse manure are only a problem when the animals are fed on poor pasture and / or the manure is to new, if the manure has been in a heap and rotted down enough the weed seed should of been destroyed with the heat I personal have never had an issue with it.

    You always need to be careful of bagged stuff this is usually quite fresh as they pick it from the field and bag it strait away so I always mix it into the compost heap this heap I will finish building at the end of this year 2019 then leave for one year all of 2020 and use it the following year 2021

    "You don't stop gardening because you get old, you get old because you stop gardening." - The Hampshire Hog
  • Hi there @Hampshire_Hog; apologies for the delay in replying and many thanks for commenting.  My manure is well-rotted (bought from a local garden centre last year).  I shall use mine with caution!  It's a good idea to test the pH of the soil in pots; I actually have a tester in the shed.  Many thanks for getting back to me.  :)  
  • Hi @Borderline; apologies for the delay in getting back to you but many thanks for commenting.  The manure I have is bought from a local garden centre and is well-rotted.  I do have some compost, so I may well just use that as a refresher.  I hear what you say about digging it in, rather than using as a top dresser.  I don't mind digging it in a little permitting; it's been so windy of late!  Thanks again for your feedback.  :)
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    The bagged stuff from garden centres is fine lj - I use the Westland one and find it is completely ready to use and free of any weed seeds.  I often use it mixed 50/50 with MPC to grow heavy feeders such as tomatoes in pots.  When I first tried that I expected there would be too much leafy growth but the plants grew normally and cropped well without much extra feeding being needed at all.  The advice from Borderline and H_H above relates to fresh manure and I agree with it completely.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • DaveGreigDaveGreig Posts: 109
    Using manure like any fertiliser should be with moderation. Always use less than you want to use and be careful because it doesn’t suit every plant. I’m only saying this because I always want to be ‘too good’ to everything and it can be costly, but for me it’s easier said than done.

    I top dressed my Hydrangea Macrophylla with well rotted horse manure last year and I got huge flowers on leggy stems that couldn’t support the weight so they fell over.

    One lesson learned only 5 million more to go.
  • Hi @BobTheGardener Many thanks for getting back to me again and many apologies for the delay in replying; I'm currently nursing a bad cold and it's knocked the wind out of my sails for the last few days!  Yes, I've heard that fresh manure can burn the roots of many plants, so that's a no-no for my garden.  Plus I'd imagine it's a bit pongy!  Great stuff though, I'd much rather use something natural than any nasty chemicals.  Thanks again for your help.  :) 
  • Hi @d.greig12; thanks for your reply and apologies for not replying to you sooner.  I will definitely use my well-rotted manure sparingly.  I'm sorry to hear about your leggy Hydrangea; guess you CAN have too much of a good thing after all.  Like you say, lesson learned.  I've been looking at using seaweed tonic as plant food this year (particularly for my potted plants); I don't use any chemicals on my plants at all and pretty much let Nature rule (I don't even use anything to deter slugs and snails, only copper tape if/where needed).  Thanks for your reply.  :)
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