Miracle-Gro, which produced the world’s biggest cabbage, cantaloupe and dahlia, soon became as familiar a sight in the American backyard as the station wagon in the carport. The gardening business is now estimated to exceed $35 billion in annual sales, and Miracle-Gro’s share of the home fertilizer market is estimated to be about 85 percent.
Mr. Hagedorn orchestrated the growth of his product like the marketing genius he was. He hired a Norman Rockwell colleague to paint homey advertisements, and the actor James Whitmore, whose gnarled face suggested a trustworthy farmer, for television commercials. The $100,000 prize he offered for a tomato of world record size was conditional on the use of a certain plant food.