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One of the biggest names in garden supplies is all about weed now

senior lifestyle correspondent

Scotts Miracle-Gro, the maker of home, lawn, and garden-care goods that traces its roots back to the 19th century, blamed disappointing quarterly earnings on the volatility of the cannabis market, on which it is increasingly dependent.

Since 2016, annual sales growth at subsidiary Hawthorne Gardening—which owns dozens of brands selling lights, filtration systems, premium soil, containers, air filters, and more specialized supplies for hydroponic operations—has outpaced the group’s general lawn and garden business. For the fourth quarter, the parent company reported overall sales of $298 million, up 35% from the same quarter a year before. The Hawthorne unit was up a whopping 84% over that period, largely thanks to its acquisition of Sunlight Supply, yet another name in hydroponics that represented a near-literal doubling down in the weed business for Scotts Miracle-Gro.

“There are a lot of Scotts people wearing Hawthorne shirts these days,” said CEO Jim Hagedorn, on a call with investors this week. That’s why, said Hagedorn, the company’s bottom line was hit hard by a slowdown in the California cannabis business, where sales were lower than expected following the state’s rocky first year of legal adult use.

Hagedorn has been betting big on weed since 2013. That’s when, according to a colorful 2016 profile in Forbes, Hagedorn wandered into a Washington state garden store, where a shopkeeper told him that “everyone called him an idiot when he first started selling hydroponics equipment, but the stuff was flying off the shelves, with an average receipt of $400—straight cash.”

“I told everyone ‘We’re doing it,’” Hagedorn said to Forbes. “‘If you don’t like it, leave. We’re doing it. It’s beyond stopping. And we’re not getting into pot growing. We’re talking dirt, fertilizer, pesticides, growing systems, lights. You know it’s a multibillion-dollar business, and we’ve got no growth in our core. Are you guys stupid?’”

Today, Hagedorn and company—including his son Chris, who runs Hawthorne Gardening—sound like they want to take the business well beyond hardware-store hobbyists, and into the age of Big Weed. On the call, Hagedorn noted that the next legal markets are likely to have “fewer growers but larger ones.”

When one analyst implied that Scotts’ general consumer business hadn’t served large-scale professional landscapers as well as it had individual consumers in the past, Hagedorn (who is notably sharp-tongued) bristled.

“Dude, I have a ton of respect for you,” he said. “But I think that’s total bullshit.”

“The greenhouse supply business, it’s a business we very much understand, and we’re the best in the world at,” said Hagedorn. “Hawthorne is going to be better than our [professional horticulture] business was at supplying a very unique specialized market, which is cannabis growers.”

That said, the younger Hagedorn acknowledged a few months ago that Hawthorne was still figuring out how to serve Big Weed.

“The difference has shifted more rapidly than I and my team expected toward these large-scale commercial cultivators and away from the smaller, midsize guys,” Chris Hagedorn told Marijuana Business Daily. “And those guys do have some different expectations. Maybe they’re buying from an ag distributor. They’re buying really cheap raw materials. They’re just buying bags of salt instead of premixed liquid nutrients. So, the market’s evolved. We’re responding with innovation, but it caught us a little off guard.”

One of the biggest suppliers to cannabis farmers is preparing for the era of Big Weed.

Is MiracleGro Good for Growing Marijuana?

One of the greatest pleasures in the world of marijuana is growing your own plant. Starting with just a bunch of seed or a clipping and nurturing it right through to the flowering stage gives a joy that can’t quite be replicated any other way. The resulting crops most definitely smell and taste that little bit better as a result of your hard work. Who knows, perhaps they even get you a little higher, too.

If you are looking to grow your own cannabis plants, it makes sense you want to give your babies every possible benefit. Just like parents with their children, your plants quickly become your pride and joy, which you want to see grow big and strong. As such, you may be tempted to use a little MiracleGro to lend a boost. After all, it’s bound to help. It’s in the name, right?

Well, hold your horses for just a second there. MiracleGro might not be the helping hand you hope it to be. We will investigate the suitability of using MiracleGro with your cannabis plants throughout this article. Read on for all the information you need.

What Is MiracleGro?

MiracleGro is probably the most famous plant food in the world. The fertilizer was first developed in the late 1940s by Horace Hagedorn and Otto Stern, who also came up with the distinctive packaging and name, which are still in use today. From here, it has become a household staple in the fertilizer market, beloved of horticulturalists around the world.

MiracleGro is used to help houseplants and gardens by providing additional nutrients that soil naturally loses over time. In doing so, MiracleGro boosts the growth rate of plants as it provides the material needed in the production of new cell structures.

The fertilizer contains mainly nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, and there are different options with different combinations of the three available.

Due to all of this, it would make sense to think that MiracleGro would help with the cultivation of marijuana plants. Is this the case, though? We find out in the next section.

Can MiracleGro Help Growing Marijuana?

A lot of first-time growers use MiracleGro when cultivating their first plants. Don’t! MiracleGro is not recommended for use when growing marijuana. We will explain why.

The main issue with MiracleGro is it provides one formula of nutrients used throughout a plant’s life cycle. Weed plants go through several different stages through their growing cycle, from seedling to full flowering. In each of these stages, the plant needs a different combination of nutrients to ensure the best possible growth. MiracleGro doesn’t offer various combinations of nutrients; rather, it provides a one-size-fits-all approach. Initially, this may help your plant, but it won’t help for all stages of the plant grow-cycle.

MiracleGro has an extended-release of nutrients. This means it will continue to release nitrogen for up to six months, leading to deficiencies, or even burning your marijuana plant in the flowering stage, which would reduce your yield dramatically.

Some growers do report using MiracleGro successfully, but it is the minority. Those who find success commonly use vastly watered down amounts of MiracleGro. All in all, it is just easier and safer to avoid using it altogether. You don’t want to ruin all of your hard work when you don’t have to.

What Can You Use Instead of MiracleGro?

You can minimize the use of fertilizers in marijuana cultivation to a point by picking breeds with strong genetics and utilizing as perfect a growing environment as possible. Despite this, you will most likely need some fertilizer at some point, especially when you are just starting out.

When choosing your fertilizer, it is essential to avoid extended-release options and use different fertilizers for different stages. One option is to make your own. Do a little research online to find out what balance of nutrients your weed needs at each stage and then make your own fertilizer uniquely tailored to this. A lot of experienced growers prefer this as it allows them to take further control of the growing process and gives more of a sense of accomplishment.

If you don’t fancy the D.I.Y method, there are plenty of other options out there. Some of the best on the market are:

  • Fox Farms Trio: Easy to use and suitable for all strains, Fox Farms Trio is especially recommended for newbie farmers. Just remember, you will need all three types.
  • Bergman’s Plant Food: Designed specifically for marijuana plants, these are another easy to use option. There is a specific fertilizer for the seedling, growing, and flowering periods.
  • Perlite and vermiculite fertilizers: This helps give professional quality soil and is best suited for more experienced growers. You will need a different concentration of perlite or vermiculite depending on whether you are using hydroponic or soil growing methods.

Final Thoughts on Using MiracleGro When Growing Marijuana

Perhaps surprisingly, MiracleGro is not a marijuana farmer’s friend. It is a common mistake many rookies make as the fertilizer is so ubiquitous in the world of plant growing. You can utilize MiracleGro successfully, but it is challenging to get right, and you risk ruining your grow for benefits that are easily gained from using a better alternative.

MiracleGro works wonders for plants with simple grow-cycles. Marijuana is not one of these plants. Cannabis goes through several different stages, and each requires its own blend of nutrients. This is one of the reasons why growing marijuana is so fulfilling. It offers even the most experienced of horticulturists a new challenge.

When choosing the right fertilizer for your marijuana plant, do a little research online and find a more suitable one, such as the ones we mentioned above. Keep away from MiracleGro!

What do you think of using MiracleGro to fertilize cannabis? Are you one of the few who have used it successfully? Do you have a better fertilizer not mentioned here? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

MiracleGro is one of the most famous fertilizers on the market, but how does it work for growing marijuana? Here's all you need to know.