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TOPIC: Miracle-Gro

Miracle-Gro 6 years 6 months ago #1167

Alright, I've heard a lot recently about soils, what soils a beginner can use, soil mixes, ect.
Now I am, formally and officially, asking this question:
Is it safe to use Miracle-Gro on bonsai?
Or any plant, really. Does it have bad chemicals? Does it stunt growth, does it cause diseases, does it make plants turn funny colors and emit noxious fumes? I've had to learn a lot more about soil than I ever thought I'd know in a very short period of time, and I would like to know if my mom's standby, Miracle-Gro garden soil, is safe, subpar, or toxic sludge masquerading as dirt.
My mom has a thriving community of houseplants that have been around for as long as I can remember, and she has a very large bag of of this stuff sitting in our garage. Up until now I've been using good ol' Indiana natural dirt, with some sphagnum moss for the acid-lovers, but it's getting to the point where I need to start thinking about what my plants need long-term, and the stuff I pull from the backyard isn't going to cut it. Mom's urging me to just use her stuff, but I've heard rumors and gotten little glimpses of knowledge that say Miracle-Gro isn't safe. So, for the sake of my plants and my sanity, is Miracle-Gro safe?
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Re: Miracle-Gro 6 years 6 months ago #1169

Hi Hannah,

Excellent question! My answer is a resounding "No"! Miracle-Gro soil, fertilizer or a mixture of the two is not safe for growing bonsai.

I agree...all the info out there can be a little confusing sometimes. I was given a left-over bag of Miracle-Gro with no box and PNK info missing...not that it would have made any difference to me, that is until I began learning bonsai.

I believe I have finally realized the best local greenhouse & nursery near where I live for quality, reliability and honest, truthful advice. This business has been family owned and run for seventy (70) years and they have grown into a very large, thriving business based on honesty. I think that speaks for itself.

The woman I spoke to earlier this week, who is one of the family, told me that M-G fertilizer has very high levels of N & K to force the plant to produce massive amounts leaves and flowers however, it has a small amount of P to grow and support the root system. The result is a huge plant with a very small root mass that cannot keep up with the rest of the plant. The plant ends up dying in the next 1 to 3 growing seasons. M-G contains none of the vital trace elements necessary for a healthy bonsai. According to this lady, the producers of Miracle-Gro are in a lot of trouble because of so many complaints from unhappy M-G users and sales have dropped to the point that they are being forced to "slowly" change their ways. Still, I wouldn't trust it.

She also explained to me that the mass of the foliage must be in balance with the mass of the root system because during one half of the year, the foliage feeds the roots while, during the other half of the year, the roots feed the foliage. If you have a stong, healthy root system you will have a strong, healthy plant. This is precisely what I recently read on a bonsai site.

Any "good" bonsai site will tell you "not" to use regular potting soil with your bonsai because it holds too much moisture for your trees and will eventually cause root rot. That's why Bonsai need a unique soil that is well draining yet holds just enough moisture. The various mixtures of bonsai soil are made according to each tree's specific needs however, the "beginners'" bonsai soil mixture is a good, all-round mixture. I imagine you have already read the info regarding soil provided on this site (Bonsai Empire)? Did you check out the videos listed at the bottom of the articles? If not, here is the link: www.bonsaiempire.com/care/repotting
Good, sound advice in my opinion.

Hope this helps to clear things up for you. :)

Leslie
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Re: Miracle-Gro 6 years 6 months ago #1176

Thanks for the awesome explanation, Leslie! I hadn't looked at that before, but then I've been using this as a reference guide: www.indybonsai.org/page113.html
That is, in my opinion, an excellent guide to the specifics of bonsai soil. I would never plant any of my bonsai in soil that was even rumored to be harmful. It was, at least in my mind, an attempt to gain an explanation, a why you shouldn't use Miracle-Gro for bonsai.
I talked it over with my mom, and she explained it all to me. When most people think of Miracle-Gro, they think of this blue powdered fertilizer. Mom uses a very weak solution of this on her indoor plants once or twice a year, usually in the winter because they are getting less light, and therefore less nutrients from the sun. She has had these plants for many years, and has seldom, if ever, repotted them. It doesn't matter to these plants that they aren't growing roots because they're root-bound anyway, and Miracle-Gro replenishes the N and K that they need to continue flowering and leafing. I don't know what trace elements they need, but they seem to be doing ok. Of course, eventually they'll need a repotting, but as of right now they seem pretty happy and healthy. (Even the one on the piano that the cats keep trying to eat. :P ) Also, they generally have medium-sized pots that are well-proportioned to their leaf mass.
Mom uses the Miracle-Gro garden soil for her vegetable plants, which "feeds" them nutrients that they need to produce fruit and keeps them a little more wet than other plants when we have periods of drought. I air-layered a big branch off of our willow tree in the backyard, which is in decline, and planted it outside. (Mom wanted it outside, because she wants a willow tree out there when our current one eventually succumbs to the rot eating at its trunk. I can't argue with mom, but now I have the technique down if I want another branch to bonsai. ;) ) I dug a hole and had mom steady the tree while I poured sphagnum moss around it, (to encourage it to keep rooting) followed by the garden soil, to help with moisture and give it a little more nutrients than it will find in our Indiana clay-based soil. I'll continue to water it until winter, and then I'll leave it alone. Hopefully the roots will have found the nearby creek by next spring. However, since I kept hearing that Miracle-Gro was bad for bonsai, I wanted to double-check that the willow was going to be ok, and that I didn't accidentally doom it to an early grave. But apparently I haven't, and I now know why we use what we use for bonsai soil.
All in all, a very satisfactory learning project. School starts this Monday, and I hope I learn half as much this year as I did over the summer. Thanks, Leslie, and anyone else who put up with my incessant questions!
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yet at the scent...

Re: Miracle-Gro 6 years 6 months ago #1177

I'm so glad I was able to help a little, Hannah! :)

Yes, trees that are planted outside in the ground are able to find the nutrients they need through their roots that are free to travel beneath the surface soil. However, trees such as bonsai, that are contained in pots use up the soil's nutrients very quickly which is why we must learn how to feed them properly in order to replace all the essential nutrients it needs to be healthy.
Here is a link that lists all the essential nutrients including the trace elements. www.a-bonsai.org/articles/maintenance/fe...ion-bonsai-trees.php

Wow...you start back to school early compared to here in Ontario, Canada. Students here don't go back until after the Labour Day weekend during the first week of September. Will you still be around on the forum from time to time? May the year ahead be filled with exciting, new possibilities for you, Hannah. I just know you will ace the year at school. ;)

Leslie
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Re: Miracle-Gro 6 years 6 months ago #1197

Thanks, Leslie, that's an excellent link!
Of course I'll keep posting, considering I plan on joining the horticulture club, am taking environmental science, and wrote an essay on bonsai for my summer Language project. My poor Language teacher has no idea what he's unleashed upon himself...
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"For there is hope for a tree,
if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
Though its root grow old in the earth,
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent...

Re: Miracle-Gro 6 years 6 months ago #1200

Hahahah...Excellent, Hannah! :lol:

I look forward to continued sharing with you. Have a great "first week back to school"! "Look out world...here comes Hannah!" :woohoo:

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Re: Miracle-Gro 6 years 6 months ago #1242

Thank you. When I walked into environmental science, the first things I saw were the toys on the teacher's desk. He had an Einstein figure riding an apatosaurus. I think it's gonna be a good year. :)
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"For there is hope for a tree,
if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
Though its root grow old in the earth,
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent...

Re: Miracle-Gro 6 years 6 months ago #1246

Hahahahaa...:lol: That's hilarious! I think you're right...it's going to be a very good year. ;)
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Re: Miracle-Gro 6 years 6 months ago #1247

Leslie! You're on now! What time is it in your area? It's 6:08 P.M. here.
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if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
Though its root grow old in the earth,
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent...

Re: Miracle-Gro 6 years 6 months ago #1249

It's 6:14 pm here, Hannah...only because I was checking out another post or two on the forum. We actually share the same time. Cool, huh? ;)
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