Disclaimer: This question might be off-topic or weird. This question is not to hurt anyone's feelings or to disrespect opinions and knowledge of any person or user here.

I do remember asking this question here but cannot find it. Why is cow dung bad for houseplants?.

Now people here tell me that it is a bad idea to use cow dung for potted plants. I once saw a video on cow dung and its magic on plants. To anyone who's interested:


ImageImage enter image description here

If cow dung is bad, why is this person getting great results from it? He has shown many examples in his video.

From what I know and understand, cow dung has too much nitrogen in it, which can cause root burn. It also retains water for extremely long periods of time which can also lead to root rot. That's all I know. But if that's true, how come the plants looks really healthy and lush?

What's the case? Has any gardener/user here ever experimented on this? What was the result: good or bad?

  • 1
    4K, and these plants are being raised in PURE cow poop? I do not believe that they were raised in this stuff. Like Bamboo says, it should be at least dried and the best would be completely decomposed but planting plants in pure compost is just contraindicated...for many reasons. Do not expect flowers on any of these plants or any plant with too much compost, especially raw. Too high of nitrogen in proportion to phosphorous and potassium. And do not grow vegetables in cow poo where you don't know how those cows were raised, inoculated, etc. I'd bite the bullet and get Fox Farm Pot Soil.
    – stormy
    Sep 27, 2016 at 21:05

3 Answers 3


First, cow dung doesn't have a very high level of nitrogen, specially compared to other forms of manure - the problem with fresh cow dung is a very high ammonia level, but if its dried in heat or sun, the ammonia should be significantly reduced, along with any serious pathogens present. NPK levels for average cow manure are roughly 3-2-1, with some trace elements (and in the West, likely drugs, hormones and pollutants), though the precise nutrient level probably varies somewhat between cows fed purely on fresh grass and those fed on grain as well.

It wouldn't be possible for many in the West to experiment with cow dung in this way, for several reasons. The chances of anyone owning a cow (other than livestock farmers) are vanishingly small; even if they do own cows, the cows will likely be treated with antibiotics and hormones; the cows will not be fed on natural, unpolluted, healthy green grass all year, weather being a major factor in cooler countries; in many parts, the weather would not be hot enough to stick cow dung to a wall in order for it to dry out successfully (try that in the UK and it'd end up a soggy stain running down the wall).

I think you should try it yourself, if you have a cow that only eats good grass, the grass isn't treated with any chemicals, and the cow itself is given no drugs or hormones, and you have a wall to which you can stick the dung to dry out in heat or sun. There may be an issue with some seeds passing through the rumen and germinating - in some regions, clover is fed to cows with deliberate intent - once the cows are released into a different area, they deposit their dung and the area is then populated with clover from the dung. This would indicate that some seeds would not only survive the digestive process, but be better for it, which is the way with some seeds, although seeds without hard coatings will likely be destroyed.

If you can buy cow dung produced in the described manner, buy it and try it - let us know the results please! My feeling about these things is, there's received wisdom and learning which is often not only prescriptive, but proscriptive; but that's not always the only way to do things, especially in places where the weather, environment and life generally is completely and utterly different from where the 'received wisdom' originates. We have two sayings here - 'there's more than one way to skin a cat' and 'if all you have is lemons, make lemonade', both of which apply to your situation. I'd be really interested in the result if you try this,to see if it replicates what's being said in your video links, though my interest is purely academic - the chances of trying it where I live are zero. I live somewhere that horse manure is the most freely available form of animal manure, and that should not be used in pots. I'll just add that I'm not offended in any way at all, in fact, I'm intrigued... certainly, if all the parameters and conditions are observed, I see no real reason why the resulting 'compost' won't be suitable as a growing medium, though over time, I'm not sure. But, I'd like to see a real person trying it rather than someone posting a video, being the sceptic that I am!

  • Thanks for the answer Bamboo. I would definitely try it. But I don't have a wall to stick it with either. Also, I have no idea on how to tell if the source of the dung I will be using has been fed purely on natural substances or not. but lemme tel you something I observed not while ago.
    – 4-K
    Sep 25, 2016 at 13:28
  • remember the Dracaena with tiny yellow spots? I removed that plant from the soil and re-potted it in another bigger container with soil+cow dung. I asked the question on cow dung here and was advised to not to use the cow dung, so I again re-potted it in another soil(clay). But what I observed was that the roots were developing fast in the soil+cow dung mix. But I also noticed the moisture level was high. There were earthworms in it. I currently have two plants planted in soil+cow dung. It is too soon for me to tell how well they are doing. I will soon ask a question on one of the plant.
    – 4-K
    Sep 25, 2016 at 13:33
  • The other plant is sadly the Snake Plant. However, I see some progress. I will post a picture of the progress in chat, and I will also mention it here. I will again post a picture of it after a week.
    – 4-K
    Sep 25, 2016 at 13:34
  • @4-K - not quite the same thing though, both videos are using nothing but cow dung, its not mixed with soil...
    – Bamboo
    Sep 25, 2016 at 13:42
  • You are correct. Didn't thought about it at all @_@. I would love to do the experiment, and I could have done that if I had had enough cow dung. The cow dung I got was already mixed with soil so it was impossible to separate.
    – 4-K
    Sep 25, 2016 at 13:44

This is not a weird question at all. Growing up in India, I saw cow dung used in a 100 odd ways all the time. But, I don't believe in these miracles. I am almost certain that they are touting these one-offs in an exaggerated manner, because if cow dung could produce such results, every inch of South India would be a dense tropical jungle, I assure you, sadly, opposite is the case.

Cow dung is used for all purposes - dried and caked as fuel for stoves, as a mosquito repellent when wet and sprayed, sprayed on dried to stabilize loose topsoil on walkways and such - people used it quite a bit. To Bamboo's point, in India, it gets hot enough, women, at least when I was growing up, had turned slapping rounded pancake-like patties onto the wall, that allowed it to cake in the heat and become ready for storage as fuel. One day, it will be a lost art.

To Bamboo's points, yes, when we were growing up in India, antibiotics in cows was virtually unheard of, and my family's current ownership of cows in a semi-rural setting has become quite unique. We ourselves travel 30 miles or so to get to our farm where a guy manages the cows for my mother now.

The easiest use I have seen of cow-dung, and this is probably what maybe the lady in your video is confounding, is as a rooting and seeding medium. When it is wet, and put in a container or a hole and you stick a rose cutting in it, you can actually root the rose quite successfully. I remember us doing this at home.

My mother has cows in her farm, and the tons of manure can be composted, reused and even sold off for others to use as they see fit. My garden here, in the US is potted, because I rent, and I blend steer and chicken manure into my pots with used and fresh potting soil and bits of garden soil for drainage. It works well for most general types of plants including roses.

I think the warning to not use manure in potted soil arose from the notion that most people don't know how to proportion it carefully. I have always ignored the rule, as I have grown up around this stuff and have figured out the quantities to use. But, I have seen no miracles and I am not about to put out some misleading YouTube video.

Gardening or farming success can be achieved through multiple, tried and tested means that you can consult with agricultural universities/colleges and/or master gardener groups, horticultural societies, whatever is locally available. I would ignore all the "miracle" nonsense. These things are usually not scalable, the successes being limited and breed/species specific, etc.

  • 2
    The primary reason you're not supposed to use manure in pots is the risk of pathogen content - in open soil, not an issue, contained in a pot, some pathogens may kill the potted plant.
    – Bamboo
    Sep 25, 2016 at 12:59
  • 1
    Thanks. I can see this. This is why I use already composted manure. Makes a big difference. Sep 25, 2016 at 13:00
  • 1
    I agree with you and Bamboo's answer. This is why I preferred to ask it here. But I am also not doubting the magic of cow dung. It is extensively used in agriculture as manure. My Father and Mother just now got two more plants and the nursery man told her that they use cow dung with soil and Leaves(organic matter). I will post a picture of the two plant tomorrow but tomorrow.
    – 4-K
    Sep 25, 2016 at 13:51
  • 1
    Yes, photos are always great. Thanks for sharing! Remember Bamboo's caution though, that I hadn't even thought of it. It might be best to make sure the cow dung is free of pathogens. I am sure if stored and used properly, this can be managed. Sep 25, 2016 at 18:38

I tried an experiment with cow manure. Filled 3 large containers with 50-50 mixture manure/potting soil. Planted 3 tomato plants at seedling stage. Watered by saturation at start and every two days. One plant quickly died from obvious root rot and/or burn. Saved the other two by aerating roots with long thin stick and watering only once a week. Second plant started turning yellow so I removed about 50% of poopy soil mixture and replaced with simple potting mix including vermiculite. Plant seems to be recovering; have flowering buds but no fruit yet. Third plant looks okay but is growing very slowly and whenever I stick my humidity meter into the soil it displays overwatering at the bottom level of the pot. So, whoever said manure holds water an extremely long time was very correct. It holds water too long! Manure seems unadviseable for potted plants because it has nowhere to leach to, as it would in an open garden.

  • 1
    I think it should be used only for top layering? Getting a good potting mix in India is a nightmare :(
    – 4-K
    Jul 1, 2018 at 19:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.