Gardeners are always looking for what is best for their plants to support them to grow healthy and strong. Miracle-Gro fertilizer (often misspelled Miracle Grow fertilizer) has been gardeners’ go-to fertilizer for decades. However, like anything in life, using Miracle-Gro has its pros and cons.
Focusing on building up your garden’s soil, meaning composting, is one of the long-term alternatives to using Miracle-Gro because organic improvements of your soil will be cheaper, less labor-intensive, and more environmentally friendly in the long run.
This article will discuss the main pros and cons of miracle grow or Miracle-Gro and how you can prevent them.
All commercial fertilizers have three bold numbers, indicating the percentage of primary plant nutrients that they include. The first number means the ratio of nitrogen (N), the second number is the percentage of phosphorus (P), and the third number shows the percentage of potassium (K).
Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K) are the essential nutrient elements needed in the highest amounts by plants.
How to Detect Essential Nutrient Elements Deficiency In Plants
- Nitrogen is an essential component of proteins, chlorophyll, enzymes, and DNA. It is necessary for plant metabolism, photosynthesis, and many growth and development processes. Symptoms of a nitrogen deficiency in plants may include:
- Slowed plant growth.
- Pale, yellowing leaves (often called chlorosis).
- The tips and margins of older leaves start turning brown and dying.
- Phosphorus is an element of proteins, cell membranes, enzyme systems, and DNA. It is necessary for energy systems and photosynthesis and also stimulates root and seed formation. Symptoms of a phosphorus deficiency in plants may include
- Dark, dark green, purple, or bronze foliage
- Browning along leaf margins.
- Poor fruit or seed development
- Generally, phosphorus deficiency is uncommon. However, apples, lettuce, carrots, spinach, and grasses seem to be more highly susceptible.
- Potassium is necessary for transporting materials across cell membranes, opening and closing leaf pores, moving water and sugar up and down stems, dividing cells, and manufacturing starches and proteins. It also promotes the quality and size of fruits and increases plants’ disease resistance. Symptoms of a potassium deficiency in plants may include:
- Leaf tips and margins starting to curl upward
- Plants may have weak stems falling over.
- Plants may have poor fruit or seed development, most common among vegetables and fruit crops such as apples, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, and raspberries.
Choosing a Fertilizer Grade
The best way to choose a suitable fertilizer is to have your soil tested. The soil test report will recommend a fertilizer grade for your use.
As a general rule, the recommended fertilizer composition for lawns and gardens includes the following:
Organic vs. Chemical Fertilizers
Organic fertilizers originate directly from plant or animal sources such as manure, compost, or bone meal. And inorganic fertilizers (AKA commercial or synthetic fertilizers) go through a manufacturing process. However, many inorganic fertilizers, including Miracle-Gro, come from naturally occurring mineral deposits.
Here are the pros and cons of using organic vs. inorganic fertilizers.
As you can see in the table below, organic fertilizers outweigh chemicals if you want to live in harmony with mother nature and preserve the environment.
|Organic vs. Chemical Fertilizers||Pros||Cons|
|Organic||– Feeds microbial life and contributes to protecting the environment. |
– Builds up the soil in the long run
– Made of natural constituents
– Safe and pet and children-friendly.
– Non-burning and no salt buildup
|– Slow-release (meaning that nutrients are released at a slower rate, based on temperature and moisture)|
– Slightly more expensive compared to chemical fertilizers.
– Covers less area. It may take more time to see the results
|Chemical Fertilizers||– Acts faster|
– Readily noticeable results
– It is usually easy to apply and water-soluble
– Essential nutrients are readily available to plants.
|– Create salt buildup. |
– Kills and is not beneficial microbial life-friendly.
– Cause burns plants
– Nutrients are lost from the soil quickly; therefore, you may have to fertilize your plants many times throughout the growing season (unless you use a slow-release type)
Why Is Miracle-Gro Bad?
Depending on the Miracle-Gro products you use, Miracle-Gro may have high levels of salt, which over time, strip your soil of its natural nutrients and prevent plants from absorbing them, causing a type of “lawn burn.”
In addition, most new gardeners believe that more fertilizer will help their gardens leading to overapplication and consumer misuse, and several side effects, including lawn burn and salt build-up.
- With Miracle-Gro, follow the instructions carefully because if you apply too much, you can burn or kill your plants or destroy the chemical composition in your soil.
- Over-applying Miracle-Gro produces sick plants, making them more vulnerable to disease, cold weather injury, and sometimes death.
- Also, check the weather. If you apply inorganic fertilizer to your lawn or garden, the rainwater can dilute and wash all your fertilizer away.
- If you are eco-conscious, Miracle-Gro releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than organic fertilizers do. However, Miracle-Gro works quickly, while organic fertilizers tend to be more gradual and produce slower results.
Is It Bad To Use Miracle-Gro?
Miracle Grow is a good general-purpose fertilizer that is likely to help most plants if appropriately used. However, depending on what you’re trying to grow, a fertilizer is likely better suited for that specific purpose.
Miracle-Gro is a super concentrated fertilizer, and you can quickly kill or severely injure your garden plants with it if you use it too often and too much.
Miracle-Gro is an excellent fertilizer if you use it sparingly and carefully followed the directions for proper use.
Miracle-Grow provides an insane amount of nitrogen to plants so that they grow big, bushy, green, and fast. Miracle-Grow’s problem is that the nitrogen is derived from synthetic ammonium and nitrates, producing off-chemicals harmful to soil microbes, worms, and all other forms of life in the soil.
You can make your own miracle grow with Epsom salt, baking soda, and household ammonia – see this article on how to successfully use Nematodes to control garden pests.
Can Too Much Miracle-Gro Hurt Plants?
As a general rule, too much of anything, including fertilizer, can hurt plants. Whether you decide to use Miracle-Gro brand fertilizer or any fertilizer, it’s essential to understand that misuse or over-application can lead to poor plant health and even death.
If you correctly apply Miracle-Gro to your plants, they can grow healthy and strong. Also, keep in mind that fertilizers are not medicine. On the contrary, fertilizer is designed to provide plants with the nutrients needed. In addition to these nutrients, growing plants require the correct energy from the sun, water, and carbon dioxide.
Signs of Over Fertilization
Signs of over-fertilization include:
- Scarcity of leaves
- Wilted foliage
- Dead branch tips
- Annual growth of short twigs
- Plants need excessive amounts of pruning
- Plants will have smaller than typical leaves
- Plants develop yellowish or light-green leaves.
How to fix Over Fertilization:
You can fix over-fertilization ( if caught immediately) by using excessive amounts of water to wash away the fertilizer, according to Greg Stack, Horticulture Educator at the University of Illinois Extension.
Is Miracle Grow Any Good?
Depending on the type of Miracle-Gro you are using, it can be a good fertilizer for all flowers, vegetables, shrubs, houseplants, and trees.
Think of Miracle Grow as what hotdogs are to humans. While hotdogs are food, you aren’t getting nearly any of the nutrients required to live a healthy life if you eat nothing but them.
You can apply a shot of chemical fertilizer to make your plants flourish or make your lawn the greenest lawn in the neighborhood. However, don’t solely rely on chemical fertilizers to grow a healthy and strong garden.