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Can You Use Miracle-Gro On Orchids?

A lot of folks want to know if they can use Miracle-Gro on orchids. After all, it is a very popular garden fertilizer and they may already have some on hand.

Miracle-Gro is very popular and easy to buy at any garden or big box store but is it good for orchids?

They even make Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Orchid Food so you should use it right? What about using regular miracle-gro on your orchids?

Can You Use Miracle-Gro On Orchids?

The answer to these questions is not so simple. Yes, you can use it and it probably won’t hurt your orchids if it is properly diluted but I would not recommend it.

Don’t use Miracle-Gro on orchids. It has high levels of urea nitrogen that need to be converted by soil microorganisms into usable nitrates. Most orchids are not grown in soil so it is unavailable to them. Choose an orchid fertilizer that uses mostly nitrate-nitrogen instead.

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Read the label on any fertilizer you plan on using on your orchids. Choose a fertilizer that is predominantly ammonium or calcium nitrate instead.

Use A Urea Free Orchid Fertilizer

If you read the label below you will see that miracle gro orchid fertilizer is only 3% ammonium nitrate and 27% urea.

Can You Use Miracle-Gro On Orchids?

If you use this fertilizer your orchids will grow but they may not get enough usable nitrogen.

The urea may actually burn the roots because urea is “hot” after all it is basically cow piss.

Nutrient companies use urea because it is a cheap nitrogen source. It works fine in soil where microbes can convert it to a usable form.

Most orchids we grow are epiphytes and they naturally grow on tree bark and not soil. 

Orchid mixes are mostly bark and they can not convert urea to available nitrogen. At best you are wasting money on urea and at worst it may harm your plants.

Here is a label from another orchid fertilizer manufacturer. You will notice it combines both ammoniacal nitrogen and nitrate nitrogen.

Should You Use Miracle-Gro On Orchids?

This is a much better nutrient profile but this product is designed as part of a 2 part system.

There is no urea used for epiphytic orchids in the base nutrients or the bloom formula. If you want to you can find it here.

My Personal Preference Is Nitrate Nitrogen

I grow a wide variety of plants and my preferred nitrogen source is calcium nitrate. It provides both calcium and nitrogen.

Orchids need both. Using a bit of Epsom salts will provide magnesium and some sulfur too.

I prefer to mix my own nutrients but I realize that is not something everyone wants to do.

I use Jack’s 321 formula which is 3 parts Jack’s Hydro as a base, 2 parts calcium nitrate, and one part Epsom salts.

You can adjust the ratios of nutrients in this 3 part system and it’s very economical to use.

But not it’s not for anyone who wants a ready-to-use all-in-one fertilizer.

I won’t go into detail in this article but you can go here for more info or Google it to read reviews and you can buy it on Amazon here.

How I Grow My Orchids

Orchids need higher humidity than most houseplants, They also need less fertilizer than most houseplants.

I put my orchids in a terrarium to maintain higher humidity levels. They are not in individual pots anymore.

So to fertilize my orchids I add a weak fertilizer to the stones in my terrarium and the water wicks up towards the roots.

Orchids get nutrients and water from the air with specialized aerial roots.

In this system, they can absorb their nutrients from the air without having to put fertilizer directly on their roots.

Here is how I built my orchid terrarium Orchid Terrarium DIY [An Unusual Fish Tank Transformation] – Hydroponic Orchids

How To Fertilize Orchids

Orchids are not heavy feeders so don’t overfertilize them. You will want to fertilize when you water.

A good Idea when trying any new fertilizer is to only use half the recommended amount.

Some brands give once-a-month feeding amounts. It is better to divide this up into 4 equal parts and feed weekly.

Here is a video about fertilizing Phalaenopsis orchids which is what many people have. This advice works for all epiphytic orchids.

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Can You Use Miracle-Gro On Orchids? Final Thoughts

Yes, you can use Miracle-Gro on orchids. It is not a great orchid fertilizer because it contains urea.

I would not use regular miracle-gro on orchids because it contains even higher levels of urea.

You can really use any fertilizer that provides ammoniacal or nitrate-nitrogen as its nitrogen source.

And remember the old adage to water weekly and fertilize weakly. More is not better when it comes to orchids.

Read more: Are Orchids Hard To Take Care Of? Easy Growth Formula

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