What are grow bags? Do you really need them? These are the first few thoughts that popped into my head when I started reading about grow bags. They seemed like this fresh new buzzword for people like me and you with green thumbs. However, the more I learned about them, the more certain I became that they weren’t just a fad.
In fact, grow bags are a great asset for people who don’t have a backyard. This little gardening solution is a great way for you to grow a vegetable garden on your patio, terrace, or greenhouse.
So, what exactly is a grow bag? It’s quite literally what the name suggests – a bag you fill up with soil and grow your plants inside of. Think of it as a container garden that’s slightly better than the original. When you know how to use them correctly, grow bags can be a huge asset to your garden. But how do you learn to use them correctly if the idea of grow bags is foreign to you? That’s what I hope to answer for you today.
I figured that some of you must have the same questions as I had when I learned about these amazing container bags. So I figured that I should write up a mini-guide to help you out.
Grow bags that are sold commercially are usually made from thick, breathable fabric. They come in a variety of sizes and heights for your planting needs, and they are typically rectangle in shape. These grow bags give you a lot more flexibility when planting than hard, plastic pots. Let’s look at some other benefits of using them.
Why Use Grow Bags?
Fabric grow bags actually have a lot of advantages over traditional containers. As the name suggests, these are bags that are used to grow plants (preferably vegetables/fruits). The bags are made from either plastic or fabric. The ideal ones usually have holes in them for aeration and drainage. The bags are filled with compost and soil to create the perfect environment for your chosen plants. You then grow the planted seeds by watering them and maintaining them.
You can use grow bags to give the illusion of a raised bed for your veggie garden. You just set up your bags with your plants and then arrange them side by side like you would in a garden. Put matching-sized bags together and you can even sort into a square or rectangle for a better look and easier care of the plants inside the grow bags. Due to the flexibility of using bags, you can create any shape you need and can make your garden as big or small as you want.
That sounds simple enough, right? One of the reasons they are becoming so popular is because of how easy they are to set up and use.
However, why are grow bags considered better than container gardens?
Here are a few reasons:
- better drainage system than container gardens
- they create well-aerated and breathable environments for the plants
- healthier root system because they prevent root bounding
- they minimize over-watering and regulate the temperature
- you can use them outdoors/indoors without any issue
Other than that, you can reuse them for another year or two. Plus, since they are foldable, storing them requires less space than the plastic containers most people use for their container gardens.
History of Grow Bags
Before I move on to some suggestions of the best grow bags on the market, let’s take a look at the history of this garden tool. Where did it come from and why?
Grow bags for gardeners really started to take off in the 1970s. They were invited to solve a singular problem: tomato growers were tired of having to completely replace the soil around their greenhouse borders every year. It could be a lot of work and they wanted a simpler solution.
Many avid gardeners of the time had greenhouses and nearly all of them grew tomatoes. This meant plants were being planted in the same spot every year, and this created a new challenge: avoiding disease and root pests.
Tomato plants will not do as well once they are replanted in the same old soil that has pests and disease set in. But what if you’ve found the perfect spot when it comes to sun/shade requirements and your personal choice of where to plant them. But the real problem is the soil. It’s so much work to have to dig it all up to replace each new season. And so… grow bags were invented as a genius solution to this!
When you grow the tomatoes in a bag instead, it’s easy to just dispose of the soil in that bag when you’re ready to start fresh again. No digging or anything. Each spring you would just place your tomato plants into the root pouch. The roots of these plants will now no longer touch the infected soil. Each year, you just restock with some new tomato grow bags and you’re good to go.
Evolution of grow bags
They were so useful and so easy to use that they grew rapidly and popularity and from there, we saw the evolution of grow bags into other types of gardening and other produce as well. They are the perfect solution for anyone who wanted to grow their own food and now you can see people using them in their greenhouses, their large gardens, small gardens, porch container gardens, and anywhere else someone wants to grow fruits or vegetables.
They are perfect for people who want to grow their own food but don’t have good soil conditions, or for someone who is limited on space to grow and garden. They’re also good for people who are new to gardening because it’s easier to control the conditions inside a grow bag than just in the ground.
Many plants that gardeners will try to grow have a robust root system that can be sensitive to changes in the ground soil. This can be impacted by pests, weather conditions, the seasons, and other factors that are mostly out of your control. But when the plant roots are in a grow bag instead, you have more control over that environment and can adjust the needs according to the best scenario for the health of your plant.
Best Grow Bags in the Market
From smaller grow bags to the largest gallon bags, there is something for every need. Once I find a gardening tool/solution, I try to look it up online to find the various options out there. I’ve found this is the best and quickest way to comparison shop and see all the options in one place instead of driving from garden center to nursery and everywhere else.
In this case, I wanted to know what kind of vegetables/fruits I could grow in a bag. Also what kind of different variations were there for a normal grow bag. What I found is that grow bags are a good alternative to regular grow pots for a lot of fruits and veggies. It creates a longer life for the plants, reduces the amount of work you have to do, particularly between seasons, and helps prevent root rot.
Let’s look at some of the options I loved:
1. Tomato grow bags
Who doesn’t love growing fresh cherry tomatoes in their garden?
I know I do! That’s why these canvas vegetable grow bags were a great option for me. They don’t just give you a medium to grow your tomatoes; they’re pleasing to look at too. The rustic look will add another element to your gardening space. Using grow bags is an easy way to keep your tomatoes growing well year after year.
But do they function well?
- They’re super easy to use
- Hold up to 20 gallons of soil which gives your tomatoes ample space to grow
- They are foldable – making them easier to store
- Great drainage and reliable aeration
2. Potato grow bags
This potato bag is probably the coolest grow bag on this list. It comes with a window to keep tabs on how well your potatoes are growing. They are also sturdier than most bags available in the market so you won’t have issues with durability. This can be the best way to grow potatoes for many people.
I also appreciate the fact that the design includes handles: that make it easier to move around.
More benefits include:
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Breathable fabric allows potatoes to grow properly
- Promotes good rooting system
- You can reuse it again for the next harvest
- Doubles up as storage bags
3. Strawberry grow bags
Looking for a simpler way to grow strawberries?
This strawberry bag is the one for you. There are so many good choices of grow bags out there but this one really jumped out at me because of the great design. The hanging bag is perfect for vertical gardening and can accommodate around 22 strawberry plants. Think of all the fresh fruit you’ll get as compared to a regular planter!
The bags are made from breathable felt that is light and easy to carry. It comes with hooks and eleven holes that ensure your strawberry shoots have room to grow. Home gardeners will love this one.
- Washable material
- Facilitates vertical gardening
- Minimizes plant diseases (e.g., mold and mildew)
- Easier to water the smaller strawberry shoots
- Minimizes plant decay
4. Carrots grow bags
Root vegetables often get suffocated in a container garden. However, you won’t face this issue with a well-designed grow bag. This particular one is made from biodegradable material that is breathable. The bag comes with 5 drainage holes that reduce the chances of over-watering your vegetables.
My favorite thing about them is the little flap that allows you to harvest your veggies and also keep a check on them as they grow. Grow bag gardening makes certain things like this easier and better because you have a window to see how your root vegetables are doing, which you cannot do when they are grown underground the traditional way.
- Promotes healthy roots and reduces root bound gardening
- Eliminates the threat of diseases and fungal growth
- Protects carrots from environmental elements
- Can store up to 10 gallons of compost
- Easy to move around with the help of handles
5. Hydroponic grow bags
Are you looking for something that yields more produce?
You’ll enjoy working with these hydroponic growing bags. The bags are made from a thick felt-like material that resists heat and allows lots of air. The bag is sturdier than most container bags because it’s thicker than the rest. This feature makes it easier for you to move it around without worrying about rips. The sides of the bag are made to hold up to more, which makes them good for heavy soils, too.
Another great thing about these grow bags is that they’re available in various sizes (3 gallons to 20 gallons).
- Ease of use
- The extra capacity that permits the roots to grow freely
- Minimum plant damage by environmental conditions
- Better aeration and drainage than potted plants
- Lasts for 3-5 harvest seasons
6. Large grow bags
Gardzen 6-Pack 30 Gallon Grow Bags, Aeration Fabric Pots with HandlesiPower 20-Gallon 5-Pack Grow Bags Fabric Aeration Pots Container with Strap Handles for Nursery Garden and Planting(Tan)VIVOSUN 5-Pack 30 Gallons Heavy Duty Thickened Nonwoven Fabric Pots Grow Bags with Handles
Sometimes you just need a larger sack to grow your veggies. Want to grow zucchini and squash on your back patio? A large grow bag would be perfect.
Wish you could grow a salad garden all in one place? Yep! A large grow sack will accommodate that too: just plant a lettuce and a cucumber in the middle, a few onion sets and garlic around the edges, and some herbs in between and you have the perfect salad garden in a container. What I love about this arrangement is that when the weather cools off, you can move it indoors, in a sunny space, and continue to enjoy delicious salads for some time.
Grow bag gardening with bags made of premium quality material can even be used again in most cases. It’s just important that you take good care of your bags and clean them and dry them before storing if you’re not using them. When you purchase high quality grow bags, and you take care of them well, you could get multiple seasons of use out of them.
7. Grow bag trays
Grow bags are wonderful, but not without fault. Water will evaporate a lot faster than other containers, so you need to figure out a way to keep your soil moist. I like using the bottom of a storage bin like this to sit my grow bag in. This way my bags are neatly organized and I can water them easier. Just add water to the tray and the plants will suck it up as needed.
These trays will also keep your area neat and free of dirt, as everything is contained: a big win in my book!
Frequently Asked Questions about Grow Bags
1. Can grow bags be reused?
You might have noticed that all of the grow bags on my list can be reused. That’s because I have chosen ones that are easy to wash and clean. Their durability and sturdiness also play a role in this. So you should always try to pick a bag that is made from tough material.
That will ensure that you can utilize the bags for more than one year. Again, check the grow bag material before purchase and also be sure to take care of it properly and store it properly when not in use. This is how you get them to last a long time for you. Just how long can they last?
2. How long do grow sacks last?
Most high-quality grow bags can last for 2-3 years. Their durability for most parts depends on how well you maintained them while growing the plants and also how you store them. If you do things properly then you can extend their lifespan to 5 years.
3. How do you water them?
Grow bags need more water than a standard planter. That’s because their optimized drainage system sucks up the water at a faster rate. Therefore, it’s important for you to create a daily schedule for watering your plants in these containers.
You can also try creating a self-watering system to irrigate the plant. You can do this by placing a bottle/container in the soil. It should be strategically placed like a drip so that the plants get watered throughout the day.
4. How to clean grow bags?
Since most are waterproof and washable, all you’ve got to do is hose them down to clean them. After that, dry them under the sun and then store them in a clean place. Then take them out for the next harvest season whenever you want.
5. Where to plant grow bags?
The best part about grow containers is that they are portable. So you can shift them across the deck and position them anywhere you want. The ideal spot is somewhere sunny, airy, and open so that plants get access to all the essentials (light, air, and water) that help them grow.
My favorite spots are:
- On the deck
- Inside a greenhouse
- Hanging near the kitchen window
6. Will roots grow through grow bags?
Yes and no. The answer to this question depends entirely on the type of bag you’re using and the plant growing inside it.
Typically, these containers contain more than one drainage hole to give your plants room to grow. These access points allow the roots to grow out of the bags and prevent root binding that’s seen in potted plants.
7. What’s the ideal size for a zucchini bag?
The rule of the thumb in container gardening is that zucchini plants require 12-18-inch of soil to grow. So you need to pick something a bag size that is between 20-40 gallons. Your choice will vary according to the variety of your zucchini plant.
8. Where to buy grow bags?
Since they are so popular these days, you can find them in many stores: your local garden store, Walmart, Loews, Home Depot, and many other stores. I prefer to buy mine online: this way I get a nice variety to choose from at a great price. And I can see reviews from people who used that specific one I’m looking at. Here’s Amazon’s selection: best I found anywhere!
Let’s Sum It Up…
On the whole, grow bags are a clever way of gardening by promoting healthier root systems. They allow for easy draining and a healthier root structure than regular soil. They also eliminate common gardening issues like weeds, mold, and over-watering. Plus, their compact size makes them an ideal choice for gardening in small spaces. If you don’t have enough space for a traditional garden, this might be the perfect solution.
Go grab a grow bag and start gardening!
Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project.