The black-and-white circle of the Miracle-Gro logo is a familiar sight to gardeners. The liquid plant food filled an empty niche in a burgeoning market, and resourceful personalities drove the Miracle-Gro Company to success. It has been a top-selling retail fertilizer for decades, and continues to find a place in garden sheds and back porches.
Miracle-Gro was first conceived by Otto Stern, a German immigrant and nurseryman. In the 1940s, he sold plants through a mail-order service, but had problems ensuring the mailed plants survived shipment and transplanting. Stern approached Horace Hagedorn, who worked at a New York advertising firm, to ask about buying air time on a radio program. Together, they recognized a niche market for a fast-acting liquid fertilizer, and they hired Rutgers professor O. Wesley Davidson to create a water-soluble formula. The ease of application, combined with the housing boom of post-World War II, boosted sales of the green powder. Peggy Hagedorn, Horace's wife, coined the name Miracle-Gro and they founded the Miracle-Gro company in 1950.
Hagedorn bought out Stern in the 1980s. After giving much of his Miracle-Gro stock to his children, Hagedorn merged the Miracle-Gro name with Scotts Corporation to become the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. Although the Scotts name was heavily marketed, the leaders from the Miracle-Gro Company held the majority of the new company's stock as well as multiple seats on the board of directors.
In addition to the original 24-8-16 formula, with the numbers signifying the nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium amounts by weight, Miracle-Gro formulas exist for roses, flowering plants, tomatoes, trees and shrubs, and even more specialized formulas like those for citrus and palms. Retailers sell premixed liquid fertilizer or, more commonly, water-soluble powders.
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company produces everything from soil to sprinklers under the Miracle-Gro name. In-ground plant spikes, bagged potting and garden soils, lawn patch mixes, and even weed preventer all carry the black-and-yellow Miracle-Gro label. Additionally, the company markets garden hardware such as hose-end sprinklers and granular fertilizer applicators.
Because Miracle-Gro is a liquid fertilizer, weak plants receive the nutrient boost quickly. The liquid also is less likely to burn plants, and gardeners can dilute the solution for seedlings or new transplants. As a stable powder, Miracle-Gro does not lose its potency as readily as pre-mixed liquid fertilizers, making it convenient for homeowners to occasionally fertilizer indoor plants or low-maintenance gardens. Plants also absorb the liquid fertilizer through their foliage, increasing the rapid intake of nutrients for struggling gardens.