Superthrive … Snake-Oil or ???


“If a man deceive me once, shame on him; if he deceive me twice, shame on me.”

Japanese Proverb … Author Unknown.


Over the next few weeks/months I’m going to do as much research on Superthrive as I can. I have a chemist friend who may be able to analysis exactly (or close to) what is actually in this stuff.

For some time now I have taken a greater interest because I thought; if the makers refuse to reveal what is in it and there is no real breakdown available apart from the obvious, I figured why after almost 30 years am I still using it?

There is much information, speculation and downright myths about this Superthrive; and why the hell I have not done this before is a bit beyond me. Maybe because I felt it really was beneficial because I was recommended to use it through someone very well known in the Bonsai world.

Maybe those days I was a bit gullible, maybe I actually felt it worked and thus I have continued with it all these years.

I mentioned elsewhere  that I am actually trialing a new root enhancing product this year, and it is 100% organic and manufactured in the Netherlands; well here too under strict license. I’m not being evasive, far from it. I don’t though want to say it is this and that until I have tried it properly. It is 100% specific to the generation of new roots when repotting. Allegedly.

Anyway, back to ST then. Some quotes:

No way would I use something that comes tacked to the back of a Marvel comic.” Yep, I can sort of see the logic but if it really is good for my Bonsai, I couldn’t give a tinkers cuss if it was clipped to a plain brown piece of card.

Superthrive is nothing more than snake oil.” Maybe. I’ll know more later this year (It’s going to take a while though).

“ST has been removed from sale in Canada.” I believe this is true.

“It might be worth noting that since the product contains the growth regulator (hormone) auxin; its overuse can cause defoliation, “

“I am aware. Foliar feeding with superthrive is great and I certainly notice a difference with it, not a huge difference but let’s just say a more vibrant color and stature.” Well, yes I have found a positive result from foliar feeding with ST … I think!

“Nothing really magic about ST- except that label! Buried somewhere on that label it says that it contains naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) the other most common rooting hormone besides IBA.”

“All that I can find in it is about o.1 % vitamin B1 and o.o5% napthyl acetic acid a plant hormone, what am I missing? This is similar to many rooting agents?” No comment … yet 🙂

“One thing folks, Superthrive has Urea in it so should not be used in flower. Urea inhibits flowering. (Quote from StinkyAttic~Lab rat and grower extra-ordinaire) “

“Buying any B-1 based product is the same as throwing you money down a well, in fact in one study it was shown that the plants watered with plain water did better than those watered with B-1.” Maybe!

“Waving an old boot over your bonsai produces about the same effect as superthrive, based on my experiences, and you can reuse it forever.” You know who said that.

“You’re showing your incredible gullibility and lack of knowledge once again. The evidence that superthrive or other such B-1 snake oils, has no positive effect on plants is overwhelming. There are no controlled, professional studies, that I have seen, that say otherwise.” 🙂

“Don’t take my word for it, please….just Google B-1, thiamine, or superthrive along with the words myth, hoax, scam and enough will come up to convince you.”

These last few are from Will Heath (I have huge respect for him and his abilities. There us a thread on Bonsai Nut that is a bit long and at times some rather heated, but it is never the less interesting. … ive&page=4

Here is a paper by Linda Chalker. … n%20B1.pdf

And one of interest from the carnivorous society (sounds like man-eaters:-)

No doubt some of the results and conclusions are going to be based on best guess scenario. But I felt it was important – as many of us use Superthrive. Indeed we do or maybe have.

For now my … and finally on this  post is; over the years I have had some suburb specimen Satsuki Azalea. One was noted as being an extremely important example. Well over the past 6 years or so I have lost them all bar one (which is no longer in my collection). I have always believed they were killed by severe weather conditions. Careful examination of the tree and root ball ‘seemed’ to confirm this.

The big however though…. is, I used superthrive on all of these Satsuki in particular around three weeks prior to flowering on the basis I had always been told this would aid the Satsuki due to the
stress in producing so many flowers, which kind of makes sense.

Now I am truly beginning to wonder if it might just have been the use of Superthrive that killed them and not the weather (and yes, I DO know how to repot these beautiful subjects). Also dosage would have been as recommended on the bottle. I’ve only ever increased to 2-4ml on a first, and sometimes second watering post repotting.

Ultimately you are going to have to make your own minds up; I will give it my best shot to either say it is ‘Snake-oil’ or not; or tell it how it comes out after extensive testing. If it helps just one user then it will have been worth the effort.


2 thoughts on “Superthrive … Snake-Oil or ???

  1. The difficulty with any “experiment” is that you are unlikely to get two plants with the same characteristics (shape, size, age etc) and with the same “problem”, so establishing any sort of control is nigh impossible. You will only ever be able to see what happens to individual plants and any positive outcome may be entirely the result of other factors altogether. I have only used ST once (having previously been of the snake oil opinion) and that was as a last resort with a trident maple which suffered badly during last winter. It did not seem to have any effect and the tree only managed to struggle out a little leaf during last summer. I will be very surprised if it has made it through this current misery of a winter. I shall be following the progression of your experiment with interest though. Good stuff.

    • Yes completely agree hence I will NOT be undertaking any tests on two ‘identical ‘ plants … like there ever was such a thing. No this is purely scientific Fiona. It is still going to be some weeks away yet from results. I appreciate this has been done before and outcomes revealed on the web someplace. Not bothering to look as I want to do this without comparisons. My own gut-feeling’ is that as an eventual outcome nothing harmful to most plants is likely to be in the recipe.

      At the same time I also think that there will nothing gained by using ST; and as has been said before you may as well spin round three times; say ‘Candy-man’ whilst rotating, with one hand tapping your head whilst the other is rubbing round in circles on your belly and get as much out of that as compared to the benefits of Superthrive. We shall see.

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