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Many gardeners now turn to grow bags as a great way to grow and cultivate plants, especially in small spaces or urban areas. Grow bags are portable fabric bags that act as plant pots. Once you fill it with soil, you can grow your favorite vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

Grow bags allow ample root space for plants to thrive while taking up very little ground area. In fact, with a grow bag, plants become a lot easier to move around the garden primarily because of the handle and grip that grow bags are made with. Unlike in-ground gardening, grow bags allow you to place plants exactly where you want them, moving them around as needed.

Let’s get into some of the reasons why you should be using grow bags and exactly how to use them when gardening.

Depositphotos 134298692 L grow bag lined up on lawn
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

What is a Grow Bag?

A grow bag is a fabric made from polypropylene or burlap. This fabric container is used to grow plants and is designed as a portable and accessible alternative to in-ground gardening.

Grow bags come in various sizes, most commonly from 1 to 25 gallons. The durable fabric bags have reinforced handles and are filled with a fast-draining soilless potting mix tailored for healthy plant growth. The porous fabric also promotes air pruning of roots, allowing for prolific branching inside the confined space.

Grow bags eliminate soil compaction issues and drain well while effectively retaining moisture – in some cases, preventing weeds. They are reusable and can be repurposed year after year, requiring less bending for gardeners with limited mobility.

It also helps prevent overwatering issues and encourages beneficial microbial activity around roots. Overall, grow bags create the ideal localized conditions for abundant flowers, vegetables, and herbs on patios, balconies, and other outdoor spaces.

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How to Use Grow Bags in Gardening

Grow bags are a fantastic choice for gardeners with limited ground space, offering a flexible way to cultivate a bountiful garden. Here’s a friendly guide on how to use grow bags effectively:

  1. Choose the plants that do well in containers, such as tomatoes, peppers, herbs, leafy greens, beans, cucumbers, and compact flowering annuals. Avoid large plants or heavy feeders that quickly deplete soil nutrients.
  2. Match the grow bag to the plant’s root and foliage volume. Herbs and greens typically need 5-10 gallon bags, while tomatoes might need 10 gallons or more. For young plants, start small and upgrade as they grow. Larger bags are great for plants that stay in one place.
  3. Fill the bags with high-quality potting mix. To ensure good drainage and aeration, look for mixes with sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and composted bark.
  4. After adding potting soil to a grow bag, shake the bag from side to side before planting. This helps settle the soil while eliminating hidden air pockets that could inhibit root development.
  5. While your potting soil has some nutrients, plants in grow bags need extra. Apply a balanced all-purpose fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season, and switch to a blend with more phosphorus and potassium when plants start flowering and fruiting. Follow the recommended concentrations to avoid over-fertilizing.
  6. Since grow bags have excellent drainage, they maintain consistent soil moisture. You can water manually or use a drip irrigation system. Keep an eye on the weight of the bags to gauge moisture levels. Monitor regularly, especially as the weather changes, to avoid over or under-watering.
  7. Place your grow bags in areas with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, especially for fruiting and flowering plants. Shade-loving plants can tolerate less.

Reasons to Use Grow Bags

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Easy to Move Around

These flexible, freestanding bags can be placed anywhere. The fabric is also lightweight and easy to move when dry. Because of this, less bending is required for gardeners with limited mobility.

Easy to Water

Grow bags also simplify watering due to their porous fabric, which provides excellent drainage and prevents overwatering by allowing excess moisture to escape. This keeps the soil from waterlogging while ensuring proper root oxygen flow.

Prevents Weeds

Grow bags make weeds and invasive roots less of a concern. Their fabric construction prevents weeds from sprouting through and eliminates the need for landscape fabric barriers. They also keep invasive roots from spreading, allowing you to arrange them flexibly next to other plants without worrying about site encroachment.

Very Low Maintenance

Grow bags are generally low-maintenance compared to ground-level gardening. With fewer weeds and better aeration, they require less effort to care for. Their elevated position makes pruning and harvesting easier without excessive bending.

Promotes Good Airflow

The breathable fabric of grow bags promotes good airflow around the plant roots, helping beneficial bacteria thrive while preventing humidity buildup and fungal issues. Proper drainage and oxygenation help plants flourish, from germination to harvest.


Grow bags are also reusable and, with proper care, can last through multiple growing seasons. Bags made from durable materials like polypropylene can be reused for several years. When the growing season ends, empty the soil, fold it, and store it until next year.

What Materials Are Used for Grow Bags?

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Grow bags are made from sturdy, breathable fabrics that balance durability for multiple seasons and proper airflow and drainage for plant roots. The two most commonly used materials are polypropylene and burlap.

Polypropylene is a tough, synthetic material known for its resistance to tears and punctures while allowing air and water to pass through. This makes it ideal for reusable grow bags lasting 3-5 years, though long-term sun exposure can eventually cause degradation.

Burlap, on the other hand, is a natural fiber made from plants like jute or kenaf. It allows roots to breathe well while being biodegradable and lasts 1-2 years before needing replacement. However, untreated burlap can be prone to mold, which is why some growers use non-toxic coatings for extra protection.

High-quality grow bags often include reinforced stitching, double-lined bottoms for added stability, and convenient side handles for easy transport. Regardless of the material used, grow bags provide an efficient and effective option for cultivating healthy plants.

How To Choose the Right Grow Bag

Here are some friendly pointers to help you make the best choice:

For small-scale gardening, choose bags between 5 and 15 gallons. This size gives most plants enough soil volume for healthy root development without making the bag too heavy to move. For larger crops like tomatoes and potatoes, consider bags that hold over 10 gallons.

Opt for sturdy, thick fabric bags, preferably 900 gauge (GSM) or higher. Polypropylene and double-layer burlap are excellent choices, offering resilience against punctures and weather damage. Use reinforced stitching and double-lined bottoms for added strength, especially when the soil becomes saturated.

Reinforced seams, ideally with double or triple stitching, will prevent soil from spilling out. Sturdy, well-stitched handles indicate a higher-quality bag that will last.

How to Store Grow Bags

At the end of each growing season, remove all plant debris from used grow bags and wash bags out with a mild bleach solution.

Allow to fully dry and store the cleaned, empty grow bags over winter in a dry, rodent-proof location to protect from moisture and chewing pests. Grow bags can be reused annually for many years if properly maintained between seasons, maximizing their value and reducing waste.


What is the best soil to use in grow bags?

The best soil is a lightweight, commercial potting mix with good drainage and aeration. Avoid heavy soil from the ground. Look for mixes containing peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and compost for moisture retention and nutrients. Potting mixes specially blended for containers and vegetables work very well.

What spaces are suitable for placing grow bags?

Good spots for grow bags include patios, decks, balconies, pavements, or any hardscape area. Choose locations that receive at least 6 hours of daily sunlight. Also, place bags where you can easily access and water the plants. Just ensure the surface underneath can handle the weight when the bags are saturated with water.

How do you maintain grow bags in winter?

Before winter, remove all plant debris and leftover soil mix from used grow bags. Clean the empty bags by scrubbing and washing them with a mild bleach solution. Allow bags to fully air dry before storing for the winter in a dry, sheltered area safe from rain/snow and chewing rodents.

Stored properly, quality grow bags can be reused annually for many years. Before the next season, check bags for any damage before refilling with fresh potting mix and new plants.

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