Hand Peeking Through Houseplants to See a Bottle of Miracle-Gro

How to Fix Using Too Much Miracle-Gro on Your Plants

Some products are considered must-haves for your houseplants, and to you, Miracle-Gro could be on top of that list. That’s why you use it so often; perhaps not religiously, but whenever you can. Lately though, your plants seem to be in worse condition, not better. Does this have something to do with the Miracle-Gro? How would you save your indoor plant at this point?

How to fix using too much Miracle-Gro on your plants? If you’ve overdone it on the Miracle-Gro, you need to do the following:

  • Remove as much visible Miracle-Gro off the soil’s surface as you can
  • Flush out the rest of the Miracle-Gro with water (but avoid overwatering)
  • Cut away the leaves or foliage that’s damaged
  • Consider propagating surviving plant pieces 
  • Avoid too much sun exposure

While sometimes, a plant that’s fed too much Miracle-Gro doesn’t bounce back, it never hurts to try helping it. In today’s post, I’ll elaborate more on the above methods so you can do just that. I’ll also discuss what’s in Miracle-Gro and how to tell if your houseplants are possibly getting too much Miracle-Gro. Keep reading! 

What Is Miracle-Gro & What’s in It? 

Okay, so what exactly is Miracle-Gro anyway? It’s a fertilizer that’s supposed to encourage the growth of your houseplants, hence the name. Produced by Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, the Miracle-Gro product itself has existed since the 1940s. It was then that Otto Stern and Horace Hagedorn produced the first Miracle-Gro, including its packaging. 

Today, the Miracle-Gro line has expanded far beyond fertilizer. You can also find soil revitalizers, raised bed mixes, soil mixes, plant food, gardening tools, plant seeds, and more under the Miracle-Gro brand.

Their fertilizer is mostly nitrogen-based, and this nitrogen is almost always sourced from nitrates and ammonium. Depending on the type of houseplant you’re growing, the ratio of nitrogen to nutrients like potassium and phosphorus will differ. 

For example, if you’re tending to an indoor garden of flowers, then you’d want Miracle-Gro at a ratio of 15-30-15, with the first 15 referring to the nitrogen content as a percentage, the 30 standing for 30 percent of phosphorus, and the last 15 the quantity of potassium, again as a percentage. 

Currently, you can choose from five different fertilizers from Miracle-Gro. I’ve listed them here for you so you can see which type of Miracle-Gro might work best for your needs.

  • Tomato fertilizer (18 percent of nitrogen, 18 percent of phosphorus, and 21 percent of potassium)
  • Trees & Shrubs fertilizer (15 percent of nitrogen, 10 percent of phosphorus, and nine percent of potassium)
  • Flowers (the abovementioned ratio)
  • Roses (18 percent of nitrogen, 24 percent of phosphorus, and 16 percent of potassium)
  • All-Purpose (24 percent of nitrogen, eight percent of phosphorus, and 16 percent of potassium)

Indoor gardeners will likely be most interested in the All-Purpose Plant Food from Miracle-Gro. Like its product description says “it can be used on shrubs, trees, vegetables, and flowers” so it can be used on a wide range of your plants and that can make it very attractive.

I often include the far away lands a particular plant is native to so you’ll have a rough idea of the conditions the plant would ideally thrive in.

Interesting Fact

Used Too Much Miracle-Gro on Your Plants? Here’s What to Do 

Per the usage directions, you’re only supposed to apply Miracle-Gro All-Purpose Plant Food on a weekly basis, perhaps every two weeks. If you follow those instructions, then the company says the product should not burn your houseplants.

You know that now, but you wish you had been aware of this a few weeks ago. It was then that you vigorously slathered on Miracle-Gro almost daily for your young plants. You had hoped the houseplants would grow strong and pretty, but just the opposite has happened. 

Try not to panic too much. If you only just started overusing the Miracle-Gro, it’s possible you can restore the health of your houseplants. Per the intro, here are the steps to follow.

Get Rid of Miracle-Gro on the Soil’s Surface

Miracle-Gro’s All-Purpose Plant Food is a blue product, so that makes it very easy to find on the surface of your soil. Using a small shovel or even a clean ice cream scoop, remove chunks of the soil’s top surface that contain the blue fertilizer. The next time you go to water your indoor plant, that fertilizer will leech in deeper and become much harder to get rid of, so make sure there are no traces left. 

When the soil looks mostly clean, make sure you disinfect whichever tools you used to scoop out the Miracle-Gro. 

Flush More of the Miracle-Gro Out

Okay, so the soil’s surface looks much better, but there’s more fertilizer beneath that surface, so you want to address this next. To begin to clear all this fertilizer away, you want to flush it out with water. 

There’s a careful balancing act that has to be done here. If you overwater the houseplant, it could now have both root rot and fertilizer damage. This would almost certainly lead to its death. However, by using too little water, the H2O might not reach the roots, which could be most affected by your overfertilization habit. This too could hurt your plant. 

Some indoor gardeners have advocated for turning a gardening hose on the houseplant and leaving it running for upwards of 30 minutes. If you do this only once and then limit your waterings after, you shouldn’t cause root rot. Use distilled water at room temperature for best results. 

Remove Dead or Damaged Leaves

With as much of the Miracle-Gro out of your houseplant’s system that you could reasonably remove, it’s time to move on to the plant itself. Depending on how long you’ve overfertilized, your indoor plant could look okay or totally wrecked.

With a pair of sterilized pruning shears, remove any leaves or flowers that are wilting, misshapen, burned, or otherwise damaged. In doing so, you prevent the potential spread of disease, and you can also limit the pests that may now be attracted to your very salty plant.

Your houseplant might look a little naked by the time you’re done, but you only want the healthy parts attached. When you’ve wrapped up, disinfect your shears and gardening tools again. 

Propagate Healthier Plant Pieces

Don’t just throw away those removed stems and branches. There’s a possibility that after leeching out all the excess nutrients, these parts could be propagated into newer, healthier plants. 

You want to find another pot and fill it with fresh soil. Let the plant cuttings dry out, typically for a week, but perhaps longer depending on the houseplant in question. Then, standing the plant parts up, bury the ends into the soil somewhat. Water the houseplant, avoid fertilizing it for now, and in several weeks, the roots may take hold and start growing. 

Watch the Light Exposure 

All that salt from the fertilizer has built up in your indoor plant’s tissue, changing it for the worse. When exposed to too much sun, there’s the increased possibility of leaf burning and other damage from overfertilization. 

Even if you usually have a sun-loving plant, you may want to give it a few days under an artificial light set on a lower intensity. This way, the houseplant isn’t completely in the dark, but it’s not scorching, either. Once you’re confident you’ve removed the bulk of the excess fertilizer, you can resume normal lighting. 

Is Miracle-Gro Really Good for Plants?

All this potential damage that Miracle-Gro can wreak on your indoor garden has you questioning whether it’s ever a good idea to use the product again. We’re not trying to give Miracle-Gro a bad rap here. When used properly, it’s a perfectly safe fertilizer for many a houseplant and flower. 

Granted, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for every plant. If yours doesn’t require as much nitrogen as you can typically find in Miracle-Gro products, then you may want to look for a different fertilizer brand that scales back on the nitrogen somewhat. You can also feel free to make your own fertilizer, something I’ve discussed on this blog. 

How to Tell Your Houseplant Doesn’t Need More Miracle-Gro 

Your houseplant is doing a lot better after following the above steps. You won’t discontinue using Miracle-Gro altogether, but you do want to make sure you don’t douse the plant in it going forward. How do you know when is too much?

Your indoor plant will certainly tell you, so keep an eye out for these signs of distress.

Lots of Foliage, Far Fewer Flowers

Since fertilizer encourages growth, it’s not surprising that your houseplant would get quite large and full with enough of the stuff. The next time you go to admire your plant, stop and take a closer look at it. While the foliage is bountiful, the flowers are anything but. In fact, there’s hardly any at all.

That’s quite a telltale sign that you’re using too much fertilizer, as you’re prohibiting flower blooming.

Plant Leaves Become Deformed

The shape of your indoor plant’s leaves is another signal to watch for. The leaves may wilt, become asymmetrical, or curl around the edges. These are all symptoms of the plant getting nutrients in the wrong quantities.

Discolored Leaves

Besides the shape of the leaves, the color can also tell you a lot about how your houseplant is doing. If the veins turn yellow, the otherwise green leaves now look red or brown, they’ve gone very pale, or there are spots of discoloration, then you’re overfertilizing.

Weakened Plants

While fertilizer used in the right quantities can indeed promote houseplant growth, when overdoing it, you hinder the very growth you want. In fact, you’re slowly killing your plant, and so its foliage, stems, or roots may be undersized. They’ll also look brittle, crinkled, wilted, or limp.  

How long does Miracle-Gro last?

If you continue to choose Miracle-Gro as your houseplant fertilizing solution after reading this article, another thing you want to be careful of is avoiding the use of expired product. How long will your bag or container of Miracle-Gro last?

It depends on the product. The brand’s Liquid All-Purpose Houseplant Food, a type of fertilizer, may be good for three to five years. That said, always check the expiration date on your own Miracle-Gro product before applying it. 

How much Miracle-Gro do I use?

Even if you don’t fertilize as often as you used to, you can still feed your houseplant too many nutrients if you’re not following the recommended quantities. While it can vary by houseplant, for the most part, you want to use only a little bit of Miracle-Gro at a time, no more than a tablespoon.

Take that tablespoon and stir it into your watering can with water (a gallon). Then, use this for up to 10 square feet of your indoor garden. If your garden is bigger, then repeat with another tablespoon for that 10 square feet and so on and so forth.

Even Scotts, the Miracle-Gro manufacturer, says you can add slightly under and slightly over a tablespoon without damaging your houseplants, but not several tablespoons.

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