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.
Miracle Grow during budding?
Can you use Miracle Grow during budding?
If you are new to growing cannabis, you will have no doubt spent time looking at nutrients. Given that there are so many options and formulas available, this can be overwhelming and confusing so you may be asking the question – “can I just use miracle grow during cannabis budding?”
The short and simple answer is not really, using Miracle Grow during budding isn’t recommended. Miracle Grow isn’t formulated for growing cannabis and often causes nutrient burns, especially during the flowering stage.
If you HAVE to use Miracle Grow to address a deficiency whilst waiting for specific nutrients, in this instance it is recommended you use a quarter of the recommended dosage and properly flush your cannabis plants before feeding them recommended nutrients.
If you have a keen eye, you will have noticed on their website, they even boldly state that it’s guaranteed to not burn your plants when used at the dosage on the bottle, we’re growing cannabis, not petunias.
I challenge you to contact their customer service and challenge these claims against cannabis plants, and see how they hold up, plants have suffered nutrient burns using just a third of the recommended dosage…
Why is Miracle Grow not recommended for cannabis?
Miracle Grow Soil:
You should avoid using Miracle Grow or any other soil that contains extended-release nutrients as these types of soils will continue to release nutrients, especially nitrogen, for up to 9 months.
This can lead to nutrient burn by providing your cannabis plants with excessive nutrients when and where they are not needed, for example, you will damage your plants by providing them with a high dose of nitrogen during the flowering stage, or you could cause deficiencies and lock-outs due to imbalances.
These soils may claim to contain nutrients needed for all plants however, we’re not here to grow a “regular” plant, we’re here to grow top-shelf cannabis – and at that, get the best out of our girls and grow huge, dense & resinous buds.
Miracle Grow – Growth Nutrients:
Miracle-Grow nutrients are often a bad choice as they tend to contain “slow-release” formulas, meaning that in the case of “growth” nutrients, Nitrogen will be locked into the growing medium and only released after a few months, this works great for your roses in your back garden, but not for your cannabis plants which will not be wanting a boost of Nitrogen 3 months in.
Overall it’s a bad idea to use grow cannabis with miracle grow nutrients designed for the vegetative stage because they will most likely lead to nitrogen burn and nutrients/macronutrients needed for preparing your cannabis plant to successfully mature and enter the flowering stage can be locked out as a result.
Miracle Grow – Flowering / budding Nutrients:
The same applies to flowering/budding nutrients offered from miracle grow, cannabis plants require specific levels of potassium and phosphorus in order to mature and flourish successfully, as well as the two main elements, Potassium and Phosphorus, professional cannabis nutrient blends often, contain a unique formulation of macronutrients to provide your plants with everything they need for a successful harvest period.
Cannabis nutrient companies invest hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars into researching the perfect balance of nutrients for better harvests, with improving recipes entering the market every year, there is absolutely no reason for you to choose a generic product such as Miracle Grow and killing your plants.
Should you use Miracle Grow for cannabis?
In case you didn’t read the above, the short is – No.
Miracle gro nutrients are not suitable for weed.
There are MANY reasons why specialised nutrients from trusted brands such as CANNA, Advanced Nutrients and General Hydroponics exist, it’s because they work and improve yields. If you are going to invest 6 – 9 months into nurturing a cannabis plant, it’s critical that you feed it the right nutrients at the right time.
Cannabis nutrients can be broken down into 5 sections: germination, seedling stage, vegetative stage, early-flowering & late-flowering, each playing an extremely important role in delivering the right nutrition at the right time.
Getting your plants off to a good start will always almost guarantee a healthier harvest, during the germination stage (Day 1-7), It’s important to not overdo it on the nutrients, start your seedlings in a jiffy pellet, Rockwool or directly into the dirt. What’s important is that you soak you starting medium in a light dose of Canna Start (10ml/litre – 25% of the recommended dosage) before planting the seed, this provides all the nutrients & macronutrients needed to enter into the seedling stage. (10ml/litre = 45ml/gallon)
Please, please only feed your seeds 25% at the recommended dosage as cannabis plants are suspectable to nutrient burn at this stage!
Alternatively, Root-Riot sell “plugs” that are pre-soaked in a specially formulated starting solution and from personal experience, perform quite well! – Just be careful to ensure that the bag is sealed or else they will dry out!
Once your seeds have sprouted, it will take around 15 days for your seedlings to enter the vegetative stage, not much action goes on above the soil in comparison to the root system that she will be building, and for this reason, we recommend that you provide a small dose of rooting hormones to help encourage root growth, a couple of trusted products include:
CANNA Rhizotonic – For use on all medium: Stimulates new root growth on cuttings and transplants as well as enhancing overall plant growth and chemical reactions to ensure a healthier and stronger plant.
BioBizz Root Juice – Hydroponics: Creates explosive root growth in already rooted plants and accelerates nutrient uptake, In addition to this it also claims to activate and stimulate the micro-organic life around the root system.
I would recommend applying the nutrients at 50% of the recommended dosage to your cannabis plants as it’s easier to add nutrients further down the line and causes less damage compared to a nutrient burn.
The beginning of the vegetative stage is often accompanied by a transplant into a larger pot as your plants will begin to outgrow their current home, you may still have your seedlings solely in jiffy pellets at this time and the roots will be begging for more room to grow.
During the vegetative stage, cannabis plants need a range of nutrients, but mainly Nitrogen, Calcium, Magnesium and solid base-nutrients will provide dark green, lush leaves with healthy & robust branch growth.
If you’re growing an autoflower strain – you have even less time to train & optimise your girls during the vegetative period and often the stress of some training techniques can stunt the plants due to their sensitive nature.
I know I keep mentioning nutrient burn, but again – Miracle grow is really not suitable for growing cannabis at any stage of its life cycle.
Here are a few highly recommended vegetative nutrients, designed for growing cannabis so you can throw your miracle grow in the bin! 🙂
Woohoo! You’ve made it to the flowering stage, you should start to see your plants sex within the next 2-3 weeks and during the next 6 – 12 weeks (depending on strain and phenotype) your girls (hopefully) will start to produce thick, resinous buds ready for harvesting – if you supply her with the right nutrition.
During this stage, you should lower the humidity to 50%, switch the light cycle to 12-12 and feed your girls PK.
PK Nutrients work by providing your plants with a high reserve of Potassium(P) and Phosphorous(K), tricking the plant into thinking it’s ready to begin flowering and thus will begin to focus energy into the growth of new bud sights.
In addition to feeding Potassium and Phosphorous, Boosters can also go a long way in increasing your final yield.
Boosters or ‘sugar stimulants’ can help trigger chemical changes in your plants and increase the rates of which chemicals react, this is known as the metabolic rate.
Some boosters use synthetic plant growth regulators which have been specially developed to stop vertical growth in plants and help encourage the plant to focus on producing more buds, most boosters are made from plant extracts to amplify chemical signals and help trigger hormones that encourage the plant to produce more buds.
Unlike PK nutrients, a formal definition doesn’t exist for boosters and thus a wide range of products are often labelled as a booster. Most boosters on the market are derived from plant extracts which don’t need to be listed on the label unlike NPK values so it can be hard to know what is inside a bottle of a booster.
Alternatives to Miracle Grow Soil
If you are still choosing your growing medium, you may want to take a look at our blog posts on the three main types of growing mediums, hydroponics, coco-coir, and soil.
If your using Miracle grow for growing your cannabis, there are so many other options available:
Soil, regular potting soil which you can find in most gardening stores/supermarkets will work well as long as they do not contain slow releasing nutrients. If you decide to grow in soil it is important that you remember to choose nutrients specifically for soil and not for coco-coir or hydroponics.
Coco-Coir: Made from shredded coconut fibres coco coir is a great growing medium when it comes to growing cannabis, coco-coir contains little to no nutrients and is great at buffering pH, a downside growers often face when using coco-coir is Magnesium and Calcium deficiencies as these nutrients bind to the core becoming unavailable to the plan, therefore further supplementary nutrients may be required.
Organic Compost: Organic compost is another growing medium that is becoming more popular and widely available in gardening stores, growers are turning to organic compost in an effort to minimise nutrient usage. Growing in organic compost is great for the avid gardener because it gives you a solid used for your compost
We've detailed the reasons why you shouldn't be using miracle grow during budding for your beloved cannabis plants, and what you should be growing cannabis with