Breaking News Warning! This is NOT a proven new weight-loss drug! In fact Tricontanol is a natural fatty acid growth stimulant.
HM! Gardens (Hommel Mangas Gardens) located in Greenwood, Indiana is an official site for a new Hosta Growth Study. The question had to be answered: “To use Alfalfa Pellets or Not to use Alfalfa Pellets.”
During the spring-like winter we experienced in the Heartland, which includes good ole Indiana, I was introduced to some plant rumors that prestigious Universities like to call "research studies" — which basically means I read some plant fertilization hints on the internet and I’m going to do my own research to find out if it works.
Alfalfa meal or pellets, that are used as animal feed, have also been used to increase organic matter in the soil and offer nutrients and a high availability of trace minerals. Here’s the kicker: they contain triacontanol, a natural fatty-acid growth stimulant.
Are you "Woe is me" because your Hosta Wu is not "Wow"
I'll let you know in another month if this is the greatest idea EVER — or not!
So figured that "why yes, I would like bigger hostas and double the number and size of flower buds on my flowering plants," so I jumped into my horse-driven wagon and headed to the Tractor Supply Store. (Any feed store would carry it, but Rural King also offers free popcorn — just saying.) You can pick up a 40lb. bag of Alfalfa Pellets for about $11.99.
Just so you don't get the idea that I follow any fad that comes along, the following information from the Sault Ste. Marie Horticultural Society in Ontario Canada is entitiled: Alfalfa Pellets—Wonder Drug for Hosta?
Triacontanol has been called “the most potent growth hormone ever”. It can be extracted from alfalfa in one of the following ways:
1. Soak 5 tablets (500-600 mg. of compressed alfalfa) in one gallon of water for 24 hours. Agitate and drench the plants with it as many as 5x during the growing season.
2. Add 2-3 cupfuls of alfalfa meal (be sure it has not been denatured by high heat) to 1 yard of soil or compost.
3. Use alfalfa meal or chopped alfalfa as a light mulch or top dress around plants and apply water.
4. Put a couple of handfuls in an old sock, put the sock in a 5 gallon bucket and let it make alfalfa tea in about 48 hours. Use the water on your plants.
Alfalfa pellets look a little like goose poop when you apply it and it smells just a bit. So I sprinkled the pellets around in a circular base under the leaves of my flowering plants and hostas (away from the plant stems) and and let it rain first. Rain makes the pellets expand like marshmallow Peeps in the microwave. Of course, you can be boring and water the pellets in. But I chose to also use lovely cocoa shell mulch, (which is supposed to divert slugs) to cover the Alfalfa pellets about three weeks later.
Beneficial results are as follows:
1. Early breaking of dormancy.
2. Doubling of weight of plants in one year.
3. Up to three years of growth in one growing season.
4. Root system greatly increases.
5. Possible stimulation of mycorrhizal bacteria and reported inhibition of pathogens.
6. Doubling of number and size of flower buds, flowers and seeds.
7. Much improved quality of growth with increased number and thickness of leaves.
Source: Westside Hosta FAQ by Hosta folks.
I will keep you updated on my official research findings. And if you go to the Tractor Supply Store in Greenwood, tell Racquel hello!