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Apparently Miracle-Gro Slow Release Plant Food is now called Miracle-Gro Continuous Release Plant Food, and it's on this basis that I have based my review.
BACKGROUND TO USING MIRACLE-GRO:-
We have a lot of trees surrounding the property which drain the goodness out of the soil and growing any kind of plant tends to be a bit hit and miss as it has to be tough to compete with the trees. Fortunately we've now got a lot of established bushes and shrubs in the garden, but growing flowering plants has tended to be a bit of a disaster. I like colour in the garden and so I usually plant a lot of tubs and pots with bedding plants at this time of year which has the added advantage of being portable so I can make different 'displays' if I want to throughout the summer. Because the bedding plants only last one year, I like to try and get the most out of them and I've found that using Miracle-Gro helps immensely.
I buy the 2kg size container which is more than enough for the number of tubs and pots I fill (last year I had more than 60). The food is actually small pellets which have a coating that enables the nutrients to be released gradually. As the temperature of the soil becomes warmer and the plants start to grow more, the nutrients are released which give the plants an added boost. The food contains, amongst other things, nitrogen to help give the plants healthy leaves, phosphate for strong roots, and potash which helps the plants to resist disease. It's not organic, so bear this in mind as it can also be used for vegetables and fruit trees/bushes. The 2kg size container has 4 separate bags of feed inside together with a handy scoop. The container itself is bright yellow and green in colour and has quite comprehensive instructions as to how much food you need to use. It's very sturdy and has a useful wire handle for carrying - the lid, though, is very awkward to remove at first. You have to press a little yellow tab and then pull up on the edge of the lid which can be quite sharp, so I would recommend caution. Even when it's been opened a few times, the lid is still quite tight which, in a way, is good because you don't want thousands of little pellets rolling around the floor if you accidentally knock the container over. However, what I have found is that it's much easier to pour a couple of bags into an empty 1kg jar. It's simply a clear plastic container with a very useful plastic lid which is hinged in the middle. One side can be used for sprinkling the food - it has 6 small holes so you can easily control the amount you use. The other side has a larger opening which can be used with a small scoop to accurately measure the food. Both parts of the hinged lid close quite tightly so there's no risk of spillage if you accidentally knock the jar over.
The scoop has markings for 25g and 50g which means that you can be quite accurate in how much feed you give - you just need to know how many litres of compost each pot holds. I found that after a while I get used to how much I need to use and so don't bother using the scoop. You simply sprinkle the pellets onto the compost before planting and mix them in with either your fingers or a trowel (it does recommend that you wear gloves). You can use this for established flowers in beds and borders, but we make our own compost for the garden which we use for these. The beauty of these pellets is that you can just forget about them and they will do their own thing throughout the season - you don't have to remember to mix soluble feed in the watering can or use any attachments on the garden hose.
MY EXPERIENCES WITH MIRACLE-GRO:-
It claims that plants will grow twice as big. I would say that in my experience this is a little optimistic, but the plants do seem to turn out healthy, with an abundance of flowers and last a long time. I don't normally give them any other feed and if I plant in April then they put on a nice display until late August - beginning of September. I'm no Alan Titchmarsh when it comes to gardening so I can't claim that the healthiness of the plants is down to my expertise, so it must be something to do with the Miracle-Gro. Of course you have to water and dead-head the plants, but I do believe that I have more success using Miracle-Gro. I've used similar products made by other companies, and I must say that in my experience Miracle-Gro seems to have the edge on them.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY:-
You can buy this in a 1kg shaker container and the larger 2kg one which I have reviewed. It's widely available from most DIY stores, garden centres and online and should cost around £6 for the 1kg size and £10 for 2kg, I've found that prices don't vary much at all and I usually buy it from our local independent garden centre simply to support the smaller businesses in our area (it can be found cheaper online, but bear in mind that you usually have to pay quite a substantial amount of postage on top).
Miracle-Gro does seem to be very effective, certainly for plants in pots and tubs, and gives you a long-lasting good display of flowers throughout summer. It contains a lot of chemicals, however, so if you're into organic gardening this is definitely not for you.
Both my parents love gardening and have a beautiful garden where everything grows really well, I sadly didn't inherit their green fingers. Our current garden was very neglected when we moved in and was everything was overgrown to the extent that when we cleared it we discovered that a tree that we thought belonged to our neighbours was actually in our garden! Once we had cleared some space I created a vegetable patch and also to make our patio look more attractive invested in some pots for some bedding plants. My Mum advised that nothing grows without being fed which makes sense but also sounded time consuming so she recommended that I try this Miracle-Gro slow release all purpose plant food.
Unlike other powder plant foods that I tried in the past this fertiliser comes in a plastic container rather than a cardboard box. This is far more practical for me as I have always found the cardboard boxes start to fall apart before I've used up the food.
The container I have is 1kg so a decent size and the plastic lid is split in 2. One side opens up to a hole so that you can pour the plant food onto a spoon or trowel to use. The other side is lots of small holes allowing you to sprinkle the plant food, this is the side that I prefer to use.
It is easy to hold the container as the cylinder shape is indented both sides for an easy grip.
Using the food for vegetables
My Dad kindly gives me a bag of mushroom compost each autumn for me to dig into my vegetable patch but when it comes to planting my potatoes I like to give them a boost with this feed. The plant food comes in granule form and so it is easy to scatter some underneath each potato as I am planting. Last year was a poor harvest due to the bad weather we had but the year before when I used this I grew a decent crop of potatoes, nothing as impressive as my Dad grows but I was pleased with my produce.
Using the food for plants
As I mentioned before I like to grow bedding plants in pots on my patio. I buy the plants from the garden centre around this time of year so they have had a good start and this food is recommended for use in the spring as it's slow release means it will feed your plants through the summer (6 months worth of feeding).
I add this food to the compost before adding my plants and use the sprinkle side again to do this. It is really easy to use and there is no mess. I can use it as I go along and it easy to use one handed so you can mix it in with your trowel making it quick to add.
The slow release of this food is a big plus point for me as it means I don't have to remember to feed my plants every couple weeks which is the usual for most plant feeds.
Grows plants twice as big!
This is the claim Miracle-Gro makes which is really hard to say is true as I've never tried to grow some with and some without this food. My bedding plants do grow to a good size with an abundance of flowers making a lovely display in my garden and I am more impressed with the results of this food on flowers than vegetables.
Price and availability
This plant food is available from Robert Dyas £5.99 and Homebase £6.49 for a 1kg container. This lasts me for years making it good value for money compared to other options.
Would I recommend?
Yes, if you want results for your flowering plants without too much effort then this is the plant food for you. However for vegetables in my experience they need extra feeding which this plant food can be used alongside and so I have awarded this 4 out of 5 stars.
Nature is a powerful ally to the gardener - in fact, it's every gardeners employer. But sometimes the environment, i.e the weather, plays a negative role and squishes garden productivity by failing to supply all the necessary ingredients for healthy plant growth. Sometimes something else is required to blossom the potential of flowers, shrubs, small trees and grass. 'Miracle-Gro Slow Release All Purpose Plant Food' contains the key to unlocking that potential, nutrients. Plants need nutrients to grow - along with sunlight, water and air. When all are combined, a plant has been given the attention it deserves, and the best chance of success is theirs...
I bought a 1 kg container of Miracle-Gro to help excentuate some potted plants I have in the garden. Due to a particularly dreary spring, I felt they deserved a bit of help and had heard about this particular product before. This is a slow-releasing formula which eliminates the need to keep re-applying the stuff - apparently. All they need is one application and the plant should be fed for up to six months! Sounds excellent, but my experience with the product isn't quite that defined. I found that on application, the stuff took anywhere up to a week to initiate any noticeable change, and after that time, the plant would stay strong and healthy for only a month or two longer before the effects began to wear thin.
The food its self comes in the form of thousands of tiny pellets in a re-usable tub with a plastic lid. The label gives helpful indication to how one should remove and apply the product properly - sprinkle into soil around base of plant. It explains how one use is sufficient and then gives safety warnings and tells the reader how and where to store the stuff - in a cool dry place (i.e a garage). I found that the food works best when dug into the soil/compost around the plant(s), as this seems to put the nutrients into action quicker. Similarly, watering straight after application should improve results also.
'Grows plants twice the size' - I didn't find that, after the first week, plants were twice the size they should have been. Increased growth is definitely there, but not as increased as advertised. The main advantage to using this product is the fact it works on just about any plant small in size. But as for 100% growth increase on any of those plants, that I haven't witnessed.
Considering the pro's and con's of Miracle-Gro Slow Release: YES it's easy to apply; YES it increases growth noticably; YES it works on any plant; but NO it doesn't last 6-months; NO it won't double your plants in size. What it comes down to is price, and at 7-10 quid a kilogram I think this is definitely worth a shot on any garden! So in a way, I recommend it.
PRICE: £7-10 per 1 kg.
AVAILABILITY: DIY stores - or, Amazon at £8 new.
DETAIL: NPK 17-9-11 with magnesium and trace elements.
I used to be rather old fashioned about gardening, thinking that if I looked after my plants and watered them regularly, my care would reveal itself for all to see as they admired my beautiful blooms and thriving shrubs. My initial education in the wonders of Miracle Gro came from my next door neighbour. For an elderly gentleman who apparently spent hardly any time gardening, he produced an amazing front garden every year, with huge and colourful blossoms that passers-by would stop and photograph. Gossip on the street quickly informed me that he used Miracle Gro to achieve his great results, and I immediately threw all of my principles to the wind and rushed out to get a pack.
I initially went for the cheaper option and bought a big box of the soluble plant food. This entailed mixing with water and applying with my watering can. It had a very good effect on my garden, but the following year I was tempted by the more expensive jar of slow release granules. I spent £6.25 on a 1kg jar from Sainsbury's, and have now been converted.
The 1kg jar of slow release granules contains hundreds of small yellow balls, looking rather like the colourful Hundreds and Thousands sprinkler sweets. I was a bit alarmed at this, as there are no health warnings on my jar, and the lid is easy to unscrew by any young child. I searched the internet and found some warnings about the pellets being dangerous to the health of pets and humans, causing vomiting, gastrointestinal upset and irritation of the mouth, nose and lungs. I would be very careful about the way these granules are stored if there were young children in the house.
The jar itself is made of clear plastic so that it is easy to see how much you have left. The green cap makes the jar completely water tight, a big advantage when storing the product over the winter. My previous box of soluble Miracle Gro was kept in my shed over the winter, and when I looked in the spring, it had dissolved into a liquid blue sludge which had leaked out of the box and all over the floor of my shed.
The cap has two flip-up lids, one on each side. One side has 5 large holes, for controlled sprinkling. The five holes are kept sealed by the flip lid, which has round indentations that make each hole completely water tight and insect free when the cap is shut. The second flip up lid has a much larger hole which opens up to about half the size of the cap itself. Each flip up lid is indicated by a picture; the holes by 3 small dots on the surface of the cap; the larger pouring hole by a picture of a spoon.
The whole cap is a screw on affair, and the whole thing can easily be removed if you want to pour out fast or transfer to another vessel. The jar arrives completely sealed with a foil seal, which is removed before use.
The label has a UK/RoI fertiliser declaration, telling me that the granules contain nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium oxide and magnesium oxide.
~~ How do I use it? ~~
The granules are slow release, and it is advised that they are pushed into the soil around the roots of plants. When buying a new plant from the garden centre you can often see small yellow balls in the compost around the root ball - this is the slow release fertiliser granules.
The granules last up to six months and release a little bit of fertiliser each day. The label recommend scattering three handfuls of granules over the rooting area for established plants, but I use much less and still have very good results.
I prefer the granules as I can see if they are still in the soil months after I have scattered them. When I used a liquid feed, it disappeared immediately and I am sure that I used far too much due to its invisibility.
I mainly use my Miracle Gro granules in my pots and hanging baskets, especially if the compost has not been renewed for a while. The compost will look pale and dry, and it is obvious that previous plants have drained it of all nutrients. Scattering the yellow granules in the compost is a visible sign that I am still providing nutrients for my plants.
I have also recently started to put the granules around plants and shrubs planted directly into the soil. Whilst before it seemed as if the liquid feed just disappeared down into the earth, I can clearly see that the granules remain around the base of these plants for months. Last year I used less than half of my jar. This year the granules all still look perfect and have been kept safe and dry to use again.
~~What are the effects? ~~
Although I have not yet achieved the glorious front garden of my competitor, the elderly neighbour - I am very pleased to see that my plants have developed larger and more numerous blooms. This is especially true of my containers, which did used to look a bit sad. It still feels a bit like cheating, but using Miracle Gro definitely has a very beneficial effect.
As always, I am on the look out for environmental risks. Although it does not feel natural to put yellow granules on my plants, perhaps it is not so different from putting horse manure on roses, as my father did in his time. Miracle Gro is a lot less smelly and easier to acquire!
As ever, there are warnings on the internet, but none too strong, so I remain happy. I have read that using the Miracle Gro chemicals on the soil can allow a build-up which over time will run off into oceans and streams, polluting ecosystems and posing a toxic threat to the animals that depend on those ecosystems.
There are not too many of these warnings, so I try to compromise by using my granules sparingly. I do feel that paying a little more for granules once again helps in this respect. It is much easier to judge what you are using when you can see the visible proof in the soil.
A special mix of nutrients allow your plants to grow beautiful and healthy with more blooms.