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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hemmer

Garden Use For Cottonseed Meal

pile of cottonseed meal
pile of cottonseed meal

When cotton is broken down and used in the textile industry, it produces some byproducts. One of these byproducts is cottonseed meal. It’s a safe soil amendment that you’ll love to use in your garden for flowers, vegetables, and fruits.

For many gardeners, cottonseed meal is the perfect soil amendment. It’s easy to use, doesn’t burn the plants even the sensitive flowering perennials or annuals, and its slow-release action and organic nature, means that it will enrich the soil and benefit the plants for a long time.

So what do we know about cottonseed meal? How do we use it? Lets get into those questions now!

How is Cottonseed Meal Made?

pile of unprocessed cotton
pile of unprocessed cotton

The cotton plant is one of the oldest plants used in the textile industry. You find cotton in apparel mostly but there is byproducts that are created when cotton is processed. Cottonseed meal is one of the by products of cotton plant processing. The most valuable part of the plant is the white fibers around the seed. The seed is then pressed and oil is extracted. What is left is the cottonseed meal and it is rich in macro and micro nutrients for your plants.

Sounds like an easy process but there are many steps and machines that are used to extract everything possible from the cotton plant. What is left is the meal and is used widely in animal feed and the fertilizer industry. So now that we know how cottonseed meal is made, how do we use it in the garden? Let's find out now!

Cottonseed Meal in the Garden

big pile of cottonseed meal hulls
cottonseed meal

Other than its value of being a fully plant based soil amendment, cottonseed meal is rich in protein, which helps to slow down the decomposition of the material. Since its nutrients are not readily available to the plant, microbes within the soil need to do the job of decomposition. In garden lingo, this means you don't have to give nutrients to your plants so often and you don't have to worry about burning your plants.

In addition to being in the soil for months, this material also improves the airflow in soil, fights off pest infestations, all while promoting the growth of organic material for earthworms and growth of good bugs in the soil. Also, many experienced gardeners use cottonseed meal for the nutrients but also for its moisture retaining properties. Roses for example do not do well in drought conditions and need a moist environment in the soil. Cottonseed meal does its job of retaining water to keep the soil moist for roses. SO now you know that cottonseed meal is a great mulch for roses and services a dual purpose. But how do you actually use it?

How to Use Cottonseed Meal in the Garden

vegetable garden fertilized with cottonseed meal
vegetable garden

We cannot begin to express how much we love using cottonseed meal in our gardens as it is perfectly safe to use as a soil amendment. Urea, Sulfur, and other soil amendments are not as safe and I won't have my kids help. But with cottonseed meal, we can all help ready our garden for the growing season. Along with that, it does not burn plants and will continually nourish soil for months after application.

Cottonseed meal should be applied at a rate of 2-4 lbs per 100 square feet,mixed or tilled into the soil about 2-3" down. Before application it is also advised to get your soil tested to ensure cottonseed meal is what the soil needs. Cottonseed meal can be acidic so be sure not to go over 8lbs per 100 square feet to ensure the PH of your soil is not affected. Although, there are acid loving plants like most berries and types of shrubs and flowers. So be sure you know what your plant needs in its new home.

You may also use cottonseed meal with transplants. Dig your hole for the transplant and mix in 1/2 cup to the soil taken out. Put your transplant in the hole and mix the cottonseed meal and soil to fill in the gap between the plant and walls of the hole. Once established, you may supplement 1-2 cups per plant as a side dress. If it is a large established plant you can mix 3-4 cups as a side dress.


Cottonseed meal is one of the best choices that seasoned gardeners use for their garden beds and flower beds. Cottonseed meal, although a byproduct of cotton processing, is something that is dense in nutrients for your plants and can also help with water retention. This ancient plant can really bring your garden to life and is safe for the whole family to use together.

Click here to be directed to our shop page for cottonseed meal!

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