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.
Can You Grow Cannabis with Miracle-Gro Soil or Nutrients?
Miracle Gro Plant Food is Not Suited to Growing Marijuana!
Many of us have grown up seeing Miracle-Gro being used in our homes, so we know that it works for ‘regular houseplants’. Cannabis is just a tough weed, so Miracle-Gro should be great for it, right?
The biggest problem with the standard Miracle-Gro nutrient formula is that it’s one formula for the entirety of the plants life cycle. Even if Miracle-Gro is good one for one stage of your plants growth, it won’t be good for all of them. The ratio of nutrients your plants need changes drastically between seedling and full flower, and marijuana needs a nutrient system to accommodate for those changing nutrient needs.
Avoid Miracle-Gro Soil for Growing Weed!
Do not use “Miracle-Gro” soil or any soil that has “extended release” nutrients for growing cannabis. These types of soil will continue to release nitrogen to your plant roots for up to 6 months. This can cause deficiencies or burn your cannabis plants in the flowering/budding stage, reducing your overall yields. I have seen growers successively grow cannabis in Miracle Gro, but many of them struggled with nutrient problems in the flowering stage (like the following) even though plants were healthy throughout the vegetative stage.
What’s even worse than the standard Miracle-Gro nutrients is Miracle-Gro soil. Standard Miracle-Gro soil has “time-released” nutrients which contain high levels of nitrogen. While this formula will work okay in the cannabis vegetative stage (the first stage of life), the nutrients will continue to be slowly released throughout the plant’s life including during the cannabis flowering stage, which is not good.
Standard Miracle Gro nutrients contain too much nitrogen and not enough of other nutrients for your cannabis flowering stage, and as a result of the time-released nutrients you will notice that your leaves in the flowering stage will get nutrient burn and your buds just won’t grow as big as they could. Learn what you can do to make sure buds grow as big as possible!
Important: Do not use “Miracle Gro” soil or any soil that has “extended release” nutrients. These types of soil will continue to release nitrogen to your plant roots for up to 6 months. This can burn your cannabis plants in the flowering/budding stage and reduce your overall yields.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Miracle-Gro nutrients, and if you’re willing to learn about nutrients, you can use the various different formulas and get a cannabis plant to grow. For example if you’re using regular soil, you could use the standard Miracle-Gro formula for vegetative, and their “bloom” version for the cannabis flowering stage.
Yet there’s so many nutrient systems that are specifically formulated to grow a plant like cannabis. Why not choose to get better cannabis nutrients that will almost always produce better results? Some options like Dyna-Gro are priced about the same as Miracle-Gro nutrients, but you will consistently get bigger yields and more flavorful buds.
Can You Grow Cannabis with Miracle-Gro Soil or Nutrients? Miracle Gro Plant Food is Not Suited to Growing Marijuana! Many of us have grown up seeing Miracle-Gro being used in our homes, so we