Losing a beloved pet is always stressful and upsetting. Many pet owners are willing to return their dead pets to nature, particularly in the garden where they romped around and helped you dig pits. If you’re one of them, you can bury your furry friend in a biodegradable coffin or make it cremated to use its ashes for growing a tree memorial.
Now, the question is “Are pet ashes good for plants?” Pet cremation ashes are not good for plants. The ashes may be toxic, containing too much pH, Na (sodium), and P (phosphorus) content. When placed the ashes in the soil or around trees in high concentrations, they can increase the pH level in the soil by over 7.0. Consequently, the high pH level reduces the supply of nitrogen, affects the rate of photosynthesis, and hinders soil bacteria.
But, you can still create a memorial spot for your pet, using alternative ways without damaging anything in your garden. In this article, we’re going to describe why pet ashes are harmful to trees and what the alternatives are to utilizing the ashes for plants.
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Why Are Pet Ashes Not Good for Plants?
As stated above, the optimum pH range for most plants in the soil is between 5.5 and 7.0. When you bury your pet ashes directly in the ground, they take a lot of time to decompose. Therefore, the cremation ashes become harmful to the surrounding plant life.
Besides, using cremation ashes in high concentrations can increase the pH level in the soil by over 7.0. Consequently, soil structure and bacteria can be changed, nutrient availability and leaching in the soil may be hindered, and photosynthesis activity could be limited.
To put it another way, burying cremation ashes in high concentrations is similar to applying excessive fertilizer to the same spot of your garden.
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How to Neutralize Pet Cremation Ashes
In order to make cremation ashes beneficial for plants, you have to lower the high pH level and dilute the toxic levels of sodium. If you cannot address these two concerns properly, you shouldn’t use your pet ashes in your garden for planting trees.
To decrease the pH level in the soil, mix your pet ashes with manure, compost, and organic nitrogen fertilizers, like cottonseed meal or alfalfa meal. You can also use coffee grounds or cold weak coffee, which is acidic and therefore counteracts the alkalinity in the ashes.
Keep in mind that the usage of strong coffee every day may hinder plant life. To get the best results, mix 3/4 cup of water with 1/4 cup of coffee. Make sure to use it only once a week. Otherwise, it could harm the plants.
To reduce the pH level by smaller amounts, follow the instructions stated above. However, if you lower the pH level by larger amounts, you need to use elemental sulfur or solid acidifier (from Amazon) with cremation ashes.
No matter which method you follow, make sure to put the mixture thoroughly into the soil in the whole area. Be aware to use the sulfur compound during the summer because soil warmth and bacterial activity are at their highest in this season.
Which Plants Can Tolerate Alkaline Soil?
There are a few plants in the wild that can grow in the toxic level of sodium in pet cremation ashes. These plants can be grown at high pH levels in the soil. Some of the best plants for alkaline soils are:
- Common Beech
- Dalmatian Bellflower
- Dwarf Mugo Pine
- European Ash
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Horse Chestnut
- Ornamental Cherry
Can You Use the Same Process for Potted and House Plants?
Ashes could be too alkaline to be used in potted or house plants. If you’re willing to put your pet ashes in these plants, you’ll need to follow the above-stated method of mixing cremation ashes with manure, compost, and organic nitrogen fertilizers.
In this case, you have to change indoor plant soil periodically. That’s why we recommend you plant more than 1 tree using the mixture. This will help you plant many trees in your area, which could be a great memorial for your beloved pet.
Some of the best plants in alkaline soil for house plants are:
- Barrel Cactus
- African Violet
- Aloe Vera
- Easter Lily
Is There Any Alternative Way to Put Pet Ashes in the Soil?
Using a biodegradable urn in the soil is completely okay. However, when it comes to planting trees, the cremation ashes in the biodegradable urn can increase the pH level in the soil.
In order to solve this issue, divide the ashes into multiple parts and put each part in a biodegradable urn, and finally bury them in different spots in your garden.
If you’re looking for a quality biodegradable urn, we recommend you purchase the Favorite Place Burial Urn Box from Amazon. This Earth-friendly eco urn is made of cotton and clay, which is completely biodegradable for ground burial.
You can also take a look at the Eco Scattering Urn made of biodegradable bamboo (the link takes you to Amazon). For a more natural option, the KIRI Biodegradable Urn for Pet Cremation Ashes from Amazon is another recommendation.
Growing tree memorials for your beloved pets is a great way to remember them. However, putting their cremation ashes in high concentrations can impact the plants. They can increase the pH level in the soil of your garden.
The cremation ashes can be used for plants if you mix them with manure, compost, organic nitrogen fertilizers, or coffee grounds. By the way, if you find this article helpful, share it with your pet owner friends. Comment below if you have any further queries.