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.
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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.
- 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.
- For thirsty plants like tomatoes and squash, use a grow bag with a watering reservoir or add an olla to the grow bag.
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.
5 Tips for Successful Grow Bag Gardening
1. Choose the right plants to grow in grow bags
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.
Crops that grow well in grow bags include:
- green onions
Herbs that grow well in grow bags include:
2. Use oyas or self-watering grow bags for thirsty plants
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.
3. Choose the correct size grow bag
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.
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
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
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.