For maximum success, it is recommended to use a nutrient solution made specifically for hydroponics. Miracle Gro can be used as a hydroponic fertilizer but lacks some essential nutrients that plants need to survive.
Before you decide on a plant food to incorporate into your hydroponic system, let’s take a look at a few important things to consider.
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants, typically foods, without the need for soil. The plant’s root system receives nutrients directly from the water below.
This practice is increasingly popular with farmers and even common folk because of its numerous positive externalities.
- Hydroponics makes it possible to grow food in places it otherwise would have been impossible like deserts, cities, and maybe even other planets one day. This helps feed hungry mouths around the world.
- The plants obtain all hydroponic nutrients via water that can be recycled and reused. It can even be done vertically, saving land and preventing deforestation.
- When done correctly, hydroponic growing can be more efficient than traditional farming. The roots constantly have access to nutrients which allows plants to grow continuously.
Many hydroponic enthusiasts have asked if Miracle Gro, or MiracleGro, can be used in hydroponic water in place of actual hydroponic solution.
Though some people have had luck with this method, studies show that Miracle Gro is missing vital ingredients that your leafy greens need. Let’s get into it.
Can you use Miracle Gro in a Hydroponic System?
In short, Miracle Gro can be used to grow hydroponic plants but isn’t necessarily the best option or even recommended by experts.
Miracle Gro is a regular fertilizer used to supplement the nutrients that plants receive from their potting soil. Because it was not created to be the end-all-be-all plant food, it lacks key nutrients and will eventually hinder plant growth.
Essential Nutrients for Growing Plants
Miracle Gro is missing a few key nutrients including Chlorine, Magnesium, and Calcium. These are not just recommended vitamins but are absolutely crucial to produce thriving, nutrient-rich plants.
It is also important to note that a hydroponic plant requires different nutrients during the stages of growth. Relying solely on Miracle Gro would prevent you from varying your plant food, thus failing your plants during certain phases of growth.
Benefits of using Miracle Gro for a Hydroponic System
- Miracle Gro is super affordable compared to your typical hydroponic solution. The low price and easy accessibility are what make so many hydroponic lovers wonder if it can be used without soil as well.
- Miracle Gro does make certain products that can function in general hydroponic systems.
- Most green thumbs already own a ton of Miracle Gro for their soil-bound plants. It is convenient and affordable if you can use it for your hydroponic water, too.
Drawbacks of using Miracle Gro for a Hydroponic System
- As stated before, Miracle Gro lacks certain crucial nutrients that a hydroponic nutrient solution will contain. These products are made specifically for hydroponic water, and ratios can be adjusted as needed.
- At first, your plant may flourish, but eventually, you will see signs of a nutrient deficiency including drooping, yellow leaves, and wilting. This is because of those key ingredients that Miracle Gro just does not have.
- With Miracle Gro being an all-in-one product, you can’t adjust the pH of your water easily as you can with most hydroponic fertilizers. The water’s pH needs to be monitored closely and adjusted when it strays from the safe range.
Stages of Growth with Hydroponics
During the different stages of growth, plants require varying ratios of N-P-K, or Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
You can adjust the levels of these nutrients throughout the life of your plant for optimum growth. Since Miracle Gro is just one pre-mixed product, you lose the ability to adjust nutrients based on your plant’s needs.
Feeding is not necessary during this stage as seeds contain the minor nutrients needed to sprout a seedling.
Seedlings will require you to add a hydroponic nutrient solution but in smaller amounts.
If you are simply propagating another plant, this would be your first stage of growth. All nutrients are important at this time to build a healthy foundation.
The plant will grow in size, width, and body. You will see green leaves and stems growing. High amounts of hydroponic nutrient Nitrogen are required during this stage.
The plant will be creating fruits! You will want to increase Phosphorus levels and decrease Nitrogen to support healthy flowers and fruits.
Miracle Gro can be used in your hydroponic system, but a dedicated hydroponic nutrient solution has more of the required nutrients and will yield better results.
Image credit: UGA CAES/Extension