Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Superthrive

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Fun fact: Superthrive is actually meant to be spelled SuperTHRIVE but I’m not typing that every time. My shift key doesn’t need the grief.

I’ve just gone to grab my bottle for reference and it is, in fact, SUPERthrive. Either way, I’m not doing it. I was gonna compare SuperTHRIVE to the Byker Grove theme tune (IYKYK, if you don’t rest assured it’s VERY funny). Never mind.

Superthrive’s branding reminds me a lot of the Dr. Bronners soap branding – a lot of words on the label that don’t really mean anything, attributed to the man that invented it.

I have a marketing background and I LOVE the phrase ‘builds plant vigor’ because it doesn’t technically mean anything. If your plant gets healthier, then sure, it’s more vigorous, but also, vigor isn’t necessarily a physical attribute. It’s hard to prove it either way.

What is Superthrive?

Superthrive is a vitamin solution for plants. Here are it’s claims:

  • Use for transplanting and maintenance for all horticultural and agricultural needs (suggesting it could also aid in moving cows perhaps??
  • Reduces transplant shock, even for older and larger trees
  • Plant health-promoting vitamin formula
  • Builds plant vigor
  • A landscaper’s best friend

It sounds like it’s a hybrid of a strong multivitamin and a mild sedative.

Also, impressive that they came up with five bulletpoints for two actual benefits (reduces transport shock and building vigor), neither of which are tangible. Well done, guys.

The blurb on the side also says it encourages rapid and strong root development, and it increases the supply of nutrients in hydroponics systems.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that it won the gold medal in the 1940s World Fair.

what is the vitamin institute?

There is no mention of ingredients, other than kelp extract. My money’s on it being 60% morphine.

Ok, so Superthrive aren’t very forward about the ingredients (the NPK is 0.1-0-0) but so far I’ve found that the active ingredients are vitamin B1 and 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA).

Vitamin B1 is thiamine, and is useful to plants in many ways. Here’s a paper I found on it, which I did not read. Interestingly, I think that Superthrive smells quite a lot like my Holland and Barratt multivitamin plus Flaming Hot Monster Munch (which is the same flavour as Chilli Heatwave Doritos). Ok, it’s not interesting, but worth mentioning. Maybe.

NAA is an auxin, so basically a rooting hormone.

Is Superthrive safe for all plants?

Yes, they’re very proud of the fact you can use it on all plants. The only thing it warns against is injecting it directly into trees. Is that a thing we need to be told?

Anyway, there are direction on the back of the bottle that cover everything from house plants to seedlings to lawns to Christmas trees.

Can you use too much Superthrive?

Superthrive is very concentrated, so it’s recommended that we only use about 1ml per 3 litres of water.

I’m not sure what would happen if you dumped a whole undiluted bottle on your plant, but I can’t imagine your plant would appreciate it.*

Since they don’t say what the active ingredients are suspended in, I’d recommend testing it before you use it on a prized plant.

That being said, they seem happy for us to use Superthrive on our plants daily, so it can’t be that bad.

*Erm, I rarely measure it out. I keep a hair tie around my bottle with a syringe in it to make measuring easy and I still just tip a bit in. I did measure it when I was propagating my P. brasils though, because #science.

Is Superthrive plant food/fertiliser?

No. You can get Superthrive branded fertiliser, but Superthrive is a supplement. Think of it like a multivitamin – great for topping up your nutrient levels but it’s not going to be sufficient as a meal replacement.

How often should you water with Superthrive?

According to the manumfacturers, you can water with it as often as you like. It says on the bottle that you can use it daily, weekly, monthly, or ‘as needed’. I assume as needed is for people that use it for switching plants over to leca or for promoting root growth in plants.

Does Superthrive work?

There is a TONNE of anecdotal evidence that suggests that Superthrive is both a miracle product and snake oil.

I seem to be a perpetual fence sitter, but that’s just the way it goes. I used to religiously use Superthrive to switch my plants from soil to leca (I’d add it to the water instead of nutrients for the first noth or so). Then I sort of just stopped and it made no difference.

I actually got quite odd results when it comes to propagating. I recently propagated my Philodendron brasil about ten different ways, and Superthrive was one of the methods I tried.

The cutting in Superthrive showed the quickest growth, but then it just stopped. Also, I think it’s produced a growth point rather than roots, but it’s a bit small to tell definitively.

This is the one in Superthrive:

I’m pretty sure that’s a growth point, not roots.

This is the one in nutrients (General Hydroponics Flora series):

Even the ones in plain water have small roots! The one in the aquarium are rooted and have new growth points, the one in the terrarium is rooted and has a new leaf. A clear winner.

Is Superthrive organic?

No. And they won’t say why. This isn’t that big of a deal – some ingredients don’t have a protocol one can follow to enable them to be labeled as organic. Just because something isn’t organic doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Is Superthrive toxic?

It’s not toxic, so if someone drank it it’s not a case of immediate death, but I still wouldn’t recommend drinking it. It can be irritating to eyes though, so keep it out of reach of anyone/thing that shouldn’t have it.

Would I repurchase Superthrive?

Probably not. Not because it’s a bad product, just because the people I’ve seen that have the most success with Superthrive water their plants with it a LOT and I just…won’t. I’ll forget. The one I have is starting to get a bit crusty and smelling a bit vinegar-y and I have a LOT left so I’m clearly not using it enough.

A lot of people have been saying it’s overpriced, but it’s often on sale and in my opinion pretty much in line with similar products.

There’s also a weird MLM vibe I get about it. Someone made a comment about how it’s weird that a big company haven’t bought them out. Personally, I like that – small companies are great – but it did make me scour the website for anything a bit weird. There’s a section about reselling Superthrive that just struck me as a bit…odd. I’m pretty sure they’re aiming at garden centres/plant shops, but it’s worded very similarly to network marketing gumph.

I’m not trying to accuse them of anything, BUT if there’s a Superthrive pyramid scheme scandal in a few years, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Final thoughts

Superthrive is a vitamin solution that many people swear by. I don’t love it, but I also think it can offer some benefits to your plants, especially for their root systems.

Superthrive will not replace good care (although I’m always on the hunt for a product that will!) but it can be a nice supplement to try.

I apologise for sitting on the fence, but I honestly find that whilst it does benefit my plants a bit, it doesn’t do enough to warrant measuring it out (yes I am lazy).

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

6 thoughts on “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Superthrive”

  1. how do I use super thrive when setting out my tomato plants? Do I just water the newly planted plant or do I soak the plant in the container before I set the plants out in the garden. Will this same method work on all garden plants? Can I use it to water seedlings iI started from seed?

  2. I very much enjoyed reading this (a first for the subject matter) and won’t be buying ST if the ingredients aren’t forthcoming.

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