So when I read about SUPERThrive and the extravagant, if unrealistic claims, of making plants grow seemingly overnight, I had to give it a try.
But then, there’s the heavily marketed Miracle Gro. (I spent MANY YEARS working in a multitude of advertising agencies and grew to HATE cute spellings and words that are JammedTogether with an ExtraCapital. But I have made every effort to overlook that shortcoming of these products.)
SO I PUT THEM TO THE TEST. THE CHALLENGE:
–Three identical plants from the same grower.
–Raised in identical conditions of light, soil, pot and equal amounts of nurturing and neglect for 12 weeks.
–The difference: The water. One plant would be given only plain spring water from our well. One plant would be watered with water spiked with Miracle Gro. The third watered with water spiked with SuperThrive.
I first read about SuperThrive in James Dodson’s Beautiful Madness (a review of which you can read here). Although he was a skeptic, he reported on an extremely successful grower who SWEARS by the stuff and buys it by the barrel full.
On looking into it further, it seemed a bit of a modern aged snake oil. The product label is full or verbose claims. There are some good ones:
–Used by thousands of governments, state universities, leading arboretums, botanical gardens, park systems, U.S. States and cities in multiple drum lots. –Lifts the world!! –Added to 21 fertilizers by 21 growers.
And my favorite…
–Used by FIVE U.S. Departments to help win World War II.
As you can see, it’s difficult to take a product like this seriously since the claims are so outrageous and wholly unsubstantiated.
Nevertheless, in the interest of science, I will suspend disbelief.
The company is fairly vague as to the ingredients. The label claims that it includes “unique, normalizing vitamins-hormones.” In fact, when I embarked on this experiment I happened on a website that had conducted a chemical analysis of the product and confirmed that it does, indeed, have vitamins. It was unclear whether the vitamins were ones that plants need and, alas, I can’t find the website any longer.
The typical application of SuperThrive, according to the crowded label, is about a teaspoon per gallon, which can be added to other fertilizer.
Miracle Gro, on the other hand, simply states that it is a “Liquid Plant Food.” It states that the composition is 8-7-6 and offers a guaranteed analysis of the nitrogen, phosphate, potash and iron content. Application is 10 – 20 drops per quart of water for this particular Miracle Gro Product.
On the left is the plant only given spring water from our well. In the middle is the plant fed with Miracle Gro. On the right is the plant fed with SuperThrive.
As you can see from the photo, the plant that was given only spring water from our well did not fare nearly as well as either the Miracle Gro or the SuperThrive plants. The plant is smaller, there is less new growth and overall the color is less green. The plant is clearly less vigorous than the other miracle food plants.
Left to right: Plain water plant, Miracle Gro plant, SuperThrive plant
After that, the judging becomes somewhat more difficult. My impartial (because he doesn’t give a hoot) observer, Benjamin, says that the SuperThrive plant appears to be bigger, healthier and more vigorous.
Yes, the SuperThrive plant has more new growth, more leaves and is a bit greener. On the other hand, the Miracle Gro plant is also vigorous and the growth is more mature and leaves are larger.
In the end, the SuperThrive plant is probably a bit more vigorous.
But is it a miracle? Sadly, no. Clearly, something in that outrageous bottle works, but it’s no more a miracle than Miracle Gro. And the price is outrageously higher. On Amazon the price was about $32 for a PINT. The 8 oz. bottle or Miracle Gro still has a tag on it from the local nursery for $2.49.
So, in the end, I vote for Miracle Gro. It has a good result with a value price. And you don’t have to feel entirely taken with their marketing pitch either.
My next question: Is that Alaskan fish fertilizer better than either one? Frankly, the only reason I didn’t include it in this test is that the local nursery didn’t have FOUR plants. But I have seen some amazing new growth in the weeks following when I pour on the stinky stuff. (And boy, does that stuff STINK.)