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Gardening in Grow Bags: 5 Tips for Success

Gardening in grow bags is a simple way to begin gardening almost anywhere. Pick up a few bags, fill them with soil, and you’re ready to go. 

It’s easy to see why grow bag gardening is becoming popular for new gardeners and gardeners looking to add more space to their gardens.

Grow bag gardening

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Advantages of gardening in grow bags

Some of the advantages of grow bag gardening include

  • Grow bags are an inexpensive, easy way to add growing space. Look for good quality grow bags that will last many seasons.
  • Gardening in grow bags prevents overwatering. Excess water drains through the fabric and prevents soggy soil and roots. Look for good quality grow bags; they should have excellent drainage. (These are the ones I recommend on Amazon.)
  • Grow bags are easy to store when not in use. Clean them out by spraying off well, and then fold them up and let them dry. 
Why are grow bags healthy for plant's roots
  • Unlike most containers, grow bags allow plants’ roots to breathe. Happy roots mean a happy plant. This is one of the biggest advantages of grow bag gardening.
  • The ability to move grow bags easily to the best location. Look for a sunny spot in cool climates or give them shade in hot climates. 

Disadvantages of gardening in grow bags (and what to do about it)

Grow bags require more watering than traditional pots and the soil can dry out quickly. 

Larger grow bags can be hard to move when full of soil.

  • To make grow bags easier to move, choose good quality bags with heavy-duty handles and get help. Be sure of the location before filling it. 

Grow bags require more frequent fertilization than raised beds or in-ground beds. Similar to other containers, plants grown in grow bags require more frequent fertilization. 

  •  Use a half dose of a liquid fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season for most crops. 
Gardening in Grow bags: 5 Tips for SUCCESS
Gardener’s Best Potato Grow Bag from Gardener’s Supply

5 Tips for Successful Grow Bag Gardening


1. Choose the right plants to grow in grow bags

Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

Because grow bags limit the size of the roots and available water, some plants are better suited to grow in grow bags than others.

When choosing which plants to grow in grow bags, look for “dwarf” varieties. These are smaller versions of full-size plants that do better in grow bags. Also, select “bush” or “compact” varieties rather than vining types.


Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

Crops that grow well in grow bags include


Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

Herbs that grow well in grow bags include


2. Use oyas or self-watering grow bags for thirsty plants

Because grow bags dry out more quickly, certain crops will do better if grown with an oya or in a self-watering type grow bagI use oyas from Growoya.

Self-watering grow bags have a self-watering reservoir in the base. You keep the reservoir full and there is a constant supply of moisture for the roots. This is the Titan Self-Watering Grow Bag & Trellis from Gardener’s Supply Company

Water reservoir at base of self-watering grow bag
Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success


3. Choose the correct size grow bag

Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

Wondering which size of grow bag to choose? Look at plant spacing guidelines for the plants you would like to grow. The chart below gives general guidelines about the size of grow bag for common vegetables, fruits, and herbs. 


Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success


Extra small grow bag (holds up to 2 gallons/7.5 liters of soil) is a good choice for many herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, and basil

This size grow bag is also good for many vegetables such as kale, green onions, radishes, lettuce, chard, and arugula


Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

A small grow bag (holds up to 3 gallons/11 liters of soil) is a good choice for many herbs like dill, cilantro, and parsley. (These are the ones I recommend on Amazon.)

This size grow bag is also good for many fruits and vegetables such as kohlrabi, carrots, beets, strawberries, and celery


Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

Medium grow bag (holds up to 5 gallons/19 liters of soil) is a good choice for many herbs like lemongrass, ginger, and turmeric. (These are the ones I recommend on Amazon.)

This size grow bag is also good for many vegetables such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, okra, potatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and peppers


Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

Large grow bag (holds up to 10 gallons/38 liters of soil) is a good choice for tomatoes and sweet potatoes. (These are the ones I recommend on Amazon.)

Using a grow bag larger than 10 gallons? Great! They are well-suited to most types of vegetables and can often have several different types in the same bag. Read this article on companion planting for some ideas. 


4. Fill your grow bag with the best type of soil

Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

Regular garden soil is too heavy for grow bags; it will become compacted. The best soil for grow bags is a combination of

Look for bagged potting soil that has a combination of these ingredients, or make your own. I use the Growing in the Garden Raised Bed mix from Arizona Worm Farm in my grow bags and raised beds. This blog post details the best soil for raised beds, which I use in grow bag gardening. 

When using this mix, the soil remains light and airy; it does not get crusted or compacted. Plants’ roots need oxygen and water, and roots love this mixture.

It is important to fill bags all the way up with soil to take advantage of the room inside the grow bag.


5. Put your grow bag in the best location

Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

A major advantage of gardening in grow bags is the ability to put the bag in the best location based on the sunlight it receives. 

Most plants grow best with at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Morning sun is preferred, and a little afternoon shade is ideal, especially if you live in a hot climate. 

Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

If you enjoyed this post about grow bag gardening, please share it:


Brenda

Wednesday 17th of January 2024

Yes please

Zelda

Monday 14th of August 2023

Ten gallons is still small for tomatoes, unless you grow all determinates, especially in the desert. The moor soil, the more moisture is retained and available for the plant. I use 15 gallon ones, which is the largest I can handle.

Angela Judd

Monday 14th of August 2023

Good point. 10 gallons is the minimum I recommend, but I like that you made the distinction about which type of tomato for that size.

Marylee

Thursday 10th of August 2023

Would like to try grow bags, can’t seem to find the lighter colored ones, any suggestions? Do you do talks for garden clubs, like in Sun Lakes? Thanks

Angela Judd

Monday 14th of August 2023

I've used these https://amzn.to/45j1sme and these https://amzn.to/3GZMvuC My schedule is booked for the fall season, but you could email me for details to book something next year for your garden club.

Delann

Sunday 22nd of January 2023

Hi. Is it better to have the grow bags off the ground or can they be directly on gravel or a paver? Thank you for all the great information.

Angela Judd

Thursday 26th of January 2023

There are benefits to both ways. It depends on what you have underneath; if they can be on the ground, that is usually better.

Leslie Rifkind

Tuesday 22nd of February 2022

I recently sent a question regarding the plant bags. This will be my first attempt. Can you put small plants or just seeds.

Angela Judd

Tuesday 22nd of February 2022

Hi Leslie! You can start seeds or small plants in grow bags. Either one works well. Keep them well watered until seedlings emerge or the plant gets established and make sure you have good soil.