How to Use Grow Bags: Alternative Plant Containers

Garden pots are massive and heavy, making them challenging to move around, but if you know how to use grow bags, it will be much more hassle-free.

Besides being lightweight, grow bags are also much better for you and the plants, especially compared to plastic. There are tons of undeniable benefits to using grow bags at home and in the garden. However, before buying grow bags in bulk, get to know this alternative plant container first.

What Are Grow Bags?

Grow bags of ancient times were woven bags and baskets used to grow plants on rooftop gardens. They have been extra popular in the 1970s, taking the gardening world by storm with the convenience and benefits they can provide. In its early years, grow bags are well-known to solve one gardening problem, to avoid the hassle of replacing soil in the garden each year.

Replacing garden soil may not seem like a big deal for most people, but avid gardeners find it incredibly tiresome. Tomato growers, especially, get the brunt in terms of root pests and diseases when the soil around the greenhouse doesn’t get replaced.

Today, grow bags come in a variety of flexible materials that can help prevent root damage or diseases, with fabrics as the most common. They are versatile and lightweight, but more durable than plastic pots.

Why Use Grow Bags?

Grow bag gardening became a hit because of the practical aspects of using this alternative plant container. Check out some of them.

Superior Drainage

One of the common problems for plant growers in overwatering them, but it can get easily solved when using grow bags. Overwatering plants in a plastic pot can drown them, cause the roots to rot, and also promotes fungus growth, leading to its eventual death.

Unlike other traditional pots, grow bags are porous, providing superior draining. They let excess water or moisture out, the most hassle-free way to ensure that plants never get overwatered again.

Healthier Plant Roots

Having healthy roots is a critical factor for healthier plants and growing them in grow bags prove to be more efficient in many ways. Besides providing excellent drainage, grow bags are also more effective in temperature control than traditional pots.

Take plastic pots that get quite hot when placed in direct sunlight or during the summer, which can cook the plant roots inside. Meanwhile, grow bags are incredibly breathable, making sure that there is no heat trapped inside that could damage the root system.

Entwined roots are another problem with traditional plant containers. They continue growing around the pot in search for water and nutrients, leading to an entangled mess most gardeners call root-bound. When it happens, it’s structurally damaging to the plant as it compresses the stem and restricts proper uptake of essential nutrients.

That is another gardening problem where grow bags are useful, with their capability to air-prune roots. Once the plant roots reach the side of the bag, it will sense getting exposed to air because of the container’s porous nature. Hence, it will burn off, feeling it reached its growth limit, then producing healthy branching roots.

Cost-Effective and Easy to Use

Using grow bags cost a lot less than buying tools to remove grass and prepare garden beds, and less hassle too. They are easy to use, and even beginner gardeners can use them to start a vegetable or flower garden at home.

Usable Anywhere, Even in Areas with Bad Soil

It can sometimes be impossible to grow healthy plants when living in an area with unsuitable soil for plant growth. However, using grow bags allows growing root vegetables and other plants and getting successful crops anywhere. When the ground isn’t on par for growing plants, growing bags filled with healthier soil can fix that.

Also, grow bags have an advantage of growing plants in areas previously deemed unsuitable, like small-spaced apartment balconies, rooftops, or even rented yards. It’s an excellent alternative plant container for anybody wishing to expand their garden space.

How to Use Grow Bags for Gardening

Learning how to use grow bags to plant different sorts of vegetables or plants is simple, without needing to weed out the ground, tilling the soil, and making plant beds.

  • Determine what grow bag size to use depending on what you want to plant on it. Those below 50-gallons are ideal for small rooted plants, while bags over 50-gallons can handle deep-rooted or tree-like plants.
  • Fill the grow bags with compost up to the brim.
  • Lift the bag and shake it up a bit to loosen the soil mixture.
  • Scoop out the middle-top portion of the soil and place the plant or vegetable as you would normally when planting them on beds.
  • Place the grow bags where the plants can get ample sunlight.

Soil for Grow Bags

The ideal soil to use in grow bags are similar to what most gardeners use for container gardening projects. The best soil mixes would be a combination of miss, vermiculite, and compost mixture. Still, any healthy soil mixture should do in most gardening cases.

Best Plants for Grow Bags

Many plants and vegetables can benefit when planted in grow bags.

Tomatoes

Grow bags are ideal for plants that don’t have deep roots, like tomatoes. It is a perfect growing medium that allows each tomato plant to get the most nutrients available from compost, increasing the crops.

Sweet Peppers

Sweet peppers require well-draining and healthy soil mixture filled with organic matter. Planting them in grow bags help with aeration and drainage, keeping them healthy for increased yield.

Potato

Root crops like potatoes are another excellent plant that can benefit when planted in grow bags. Potato tubers can grow messily, sending out roots all over the place when planted in the ground. Using grow bags will help control the region where potato tubers go, making them easier to harvest.

Growing Tips

The compost or soil mixture in grow bags shouldn’t be too compact for better drainage and aeration. Loosen the mix a bit by shaking the bag filled with compost or kneading it from side to side.

Grow bags are porous, which helps avoid overwatering. However, that also means plants in this alternative container will require frequent watering than those planted in traditional pots.

Conclusion

If you know how to use grow bags, you’ll have endless ways to level up your gardening projects, making sure that your plants are healthy and will lead to better and more crops.

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Jill Sandy

Jill Sandy

Jill is a sustainable focus gardener. She loves decorating her home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques she develops herself. You can reach her at jill@constantdelights.org

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh is our Head of Medical Review. He is a research physician at Oxford University Clinical Research Unit. After accomplishing the program of level 1 sub-specialty in Pediatrics, he was awarded the Chevening Scholarship for his Master’s degree of Public Health in the University of Edinburgh in 2019

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