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 a popular option for new gardeners and gardeners who are looking to add more space to their gardens.

Gardening in Growbags: 5 Tips for SUCCESS

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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. 
  • 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.
  • Move grow bags easily to the best location. Look for a sunny spot in cool climates or give them shade in hot climates. 
Gardening in Grow bags: 5 Tips for SUCCESS

Disadvantages of gardening in grow bags

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

Gardening in Grow bags: 5 Tips for SUCCESS
Gardener’s Best Strawberry and Herb Grow Bag

2. Use self-watering grow bags for thirsty plants

Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success

Because grow bags dry out more quickly, certain crops will do better if grown in a self-watering type grow bag

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

Gardening in Grow bags: 5 Tips for SUCCESS
Water reservoir at base of self-watering grow bag
Grow Bag Gardening 5 Tips for Success
Gardening in Grow bags: 5 Tips for SUCCESS
Indeterminate tomato in self-watering grow bag
Gardening in Grow bags: 5 Tips for SUCCESS
Indeterminate tomato in self-watering grow bag
Gardening in Grow bags: 5 Tips for SUCCESS
Tomato plant in self-watering grow bag from Gardener's Supply

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 which size of grow bag to choose for common vegetables, fruits, and herbs. 

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

Small grow bag (holds up to 3 gallons/11 liters of soil) is a good choice for many herbs like dill, cilantro, and parsley.

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

Medium grow bag (holds up to 5 gallons/19 liters of soil) is a good choice for many herbs like lemongrass, ginger, and turmeric.

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

Large grow bag (holds up to 10 gallons/38 liters of soil) is a good choice for tomatoes and sweet potatoes

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. This blog post gives details about the best soil for raised beds which is what 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 as well as 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. 

Self watering grow bag with trellis for tomatoes
Gardener's Best Jumbo Potato Grow Bag and Gardener's Best Potato bag from Gardener's Supply

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 amount of 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
Gardening in Growbags: 5 Tips for SUCCESS
Gardening in Growbags: 5 Tips for SUCCESS
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13 Comments on Gardening in Grow Bags: 5 Tips for Success

  1. Thank you for this article. I’m in Tucson and just started a bunch of grow bag gardens and I was wondering (after the fact) if grow bags work in our environment. This is reassuring. Grow bags are such a great idea! Not as big an investment as raised beds or livestock tanks or even containers/pots. Except I’ve run out of soil mix. That’s an investment in itself.

    • They really are an economical way to get started or add more space. I agree the soil is an investment. Best of luck to you with your new bags.

  2. Funny thing– I’m in Tucson too, and using my first grow bags! I’ve planted onions, pak choi, arugula, turnip greens, dandelion greens, scarlet runner beans, sweet peas and will be planting potatoes and gourds soon. Everything’s growing like crazy; I wasn’t sure how well the greens would do but they’re all really growing well. Have to say, I love how I can just keep the extra bags folded up til I need them; I’ve been using them to tote mulch and so forth around my backyard too, they’re so tough!

  3. Thanks for all the wonderful information you post on your YouTube videos and blog!
    We are in North Phoenix and I purchased 10 gallon grow bags for our starter Garden.
    I used the Mel’s mix formula but I’m worried I screwed up the proportion as I counted the three cubic feet of compressed peat moss as 3 cubic feet.
    My ratio was 3cu ft peat moss, 3 cu ft vermiculite, and 3 cu ft composted steer manure.
    Then I read one of your footnotes that explained that the peat moss expanded and now I’m not sure if I need to unplant my peppers and remix my soil. The transplants were put in Tuesday and Wednesday.
    If there’s any way you have time to help on this I would greatly appreciate it.
    Thanks in advance!

    • You’re probably ok, check the watering. It will hold water pretty well because of the extra peat moss. In the future I would also combine different types of compost rather than just the composted cow manure to add a variety of nutrients.

      • Thx! The recent cool days combined with the extra peat moss have kept the grow bags reading “wet” when the water meter is fully inserted. I will figure it out and recalibrate in the fall season. Your answer is very much appreciated

  4. What are some ideas on how to transfer carrots from a small grow bag to a large grow bag

    • It’s best not to transplant carrots or other root vegetables (except beets) – I would leave them in place in the smaller grow bag.

  5. My potatoes in 10 gallon bags are growing like crazy. Their stems and leaves are near two feet tall above the top of bag. I got concerned a strong wind would not them over, so I dug small holes to place them in for stability
    How tall will the stems and leaves grow too?
    My first attempt with growing potatoes

    • Wow! Those are some tall potatoes. Hopefully your bag is filled all the way up with soil. They should begin flowering and dying back at some point. That seems taller than any I’ve grown. You may have a lot of nitrogen in your soil.

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