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.”
“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.
That said, the younger Hagedorn acknowledged a few months ago that Hawthorne was still figuring out how to serve Big Weed.
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.
“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?’”
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.
“Dude, I have a ton of respect for you,” he said. “But I think that’s total bullshit.”
Cannabis plants go through several different stages, and hence need a different combination of nutrients to ensure thriving growth. While the one-size-fits-all approach may initially help the plant, the nutrients therein are not adequate to sustain a cannabis plant through its whole life cycle. Another important factor is that MiracleGro has an extended-release of nutrients, meaning the nutrients may be stored for months and only released later. The result of this? Burning and loss of harvest.
You can minimize the use of fertilizers by using the best genetics available and by maintaining a perfect growing environment. However, even so, you will most likely need some fertilizer at some point! So, when choosing your fertilizer, it is essential to avoid extended-release options and also, to use different fertilizers for different stages.
The MiracleGro Cannabis Argument
Now, let’s get something straight at this point of the argument. It’s not that there’s something inherently wrong with MiracleGro nutrients, but if want to use them successfully for growing good quality cannabis, then you’d better figure out your formulas. For example, using regular soil, MiracleGro with its high nutrient index can work for the vegetative stage, and then you can use their “bloom” version for the flowering stage.
Alternatively, there are plenty of other options out there. Some of the best on the market are: Perlite and vermiculite fertilizers for soil, in addition to a good all-round cannabis nutrient product such as Bio Bizz, Advanced Nutrients, Golden Tree, General Hydroponics
What is the Best MiracleGro Alternative?
To be more precise, MiracleGro is designed for houseplants and gardens by providing additional nutrients that normal soil usually lacks. MiracleGro contains nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, with different combinations of the three also available. With that said, it makes sense, on the one hand, to assume that MiracleGro would also be ideal for growing marijuana. But how true is this, really?