Using Grow Bags in the Garden (Advantages and Disadvantages)

We have had a lot of success using fabric grow bags in our garden. They are easy to use, provide excellent drainage, and will last several years with proper care. They work great for peppers, herbs, tomatoes, carrots, and even potatoes.

If you’re looking for grow bag recommendations, our favorite brand at the moment is Bootstrap Farmer. You can buy them on their website here. Let’s talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of using grow bags in your garden.

Grow Bag Advantages:

  • Using a grow bag gives you the flexibility to move your plants around the yard. This is beneficial for many reasons. When we were working on landscaping in the summer, we were thankful we had the portability of grow bags. If you find your plants need more sun, you can easily transport them to a better location. Growing vegetables in grow bags is also a great way to make the most of small patios, balconies, decks, and front steps. They are also much lighter weight than clay and even plastic pots.
  • Overwatering is less of an issue with fabric grow bags. While it is always possible to overwater your plants (we had non-stop rain last season), it is less likely if you’re using a grow bag. The material does not hold water the way rigid plastic containers will, therefore, excess water will simply drain out the bottom and the sides.
  • Perhaps the biggest benefit of grow bags is air pruning. The fabric of the grow bag is very breathable, allowing for air to easily access the roots, making for a healthier root system. If you’re growing in a plastic container, you run the risk of your plant becoming root-bound. This is not the case with fabric grow bags. The roots will simply grow to the edge and stop. For this reason, we typically recommend opting for a larger grow bag. The breathability of the grow bag also helps with temperature regulation in warmer months.
  • Grow bags come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Always use the right size grow bag to allow for adequate root development. For example, we use 5-10 gallon grow bags for tomatoes and peppers to get the biggest harvests. For herbs or smaller annuals, you can use smaller grow bags, such as 1 or 2 gallon. The colors are also a fun way to add excitement and quirkiness to your growing space.
  • When gardening with grow bags, you have control over your soil. If you live in an area that doesn’t have healthy, well-draining soil for plants, you can use grow bags with potting soil. However, depending on the size and amount of bags you are using, this can be pricey. Grow bags are also great for experiments since you have full control over the soil.
  • Grow bags are easy to store. When you’re done using them, you can give them a good cleaning and pack them away until next year. Rinse them off with the hose or wash them in the machine with cold water. Do not put grow bags in the dryer – always let them air dry. Plastic containers take up more space, so we like how convenient the collapsible grow bags are. If you have any issues with mice, be sure to store them in a sealed container where they won’t be accessible to rodents.
Green grow bag with pepper plant inside

Garden tip

Use bright, colorful grow bags for flowers in your garden to attract beneficial pollinators. Use black grow bags for crops that will benefit from warmer roots.

Grow Bag Disadvantages:

  • They are not as aesthetically pleasing. Traditional planters can be beautiful. Grow bags are much more utilitarian, offering many practical benefits, but lacking in aesthetic.
  • Over time, they will rip or tear. We haven’t found any grow bags that are “buy it for life”, but the Bootstrap Farmer ones are excellent quality. Look for non-woven types with thick construction for the best long term durability.
  • Plants grown in grow bags are susceptible to drying out more quickly. It is important to monitor your plants if you are using fabric grow bags, as you may find that you need to water more frequently. A light layer of straw or mulch on top of the soil can help with moisture retention while also keeping unwanted weeds at bay.
  • Grow bags can become moldy. If you live in a humid climate with lots of rain, your grow bags may develop mold or algae growth. This can be cleaned off, but it doesn’t look great.
Grow bag with plant inside with a layer of straw over the soil

If you’ve never experimented with using grow bags, we suggest trying a few plants and seeing how you like them. For the best results, place your plant on a grassy surface. This will allow for proper drainage while also allowing the plant to wick up moisture from the ground.

Move them on occasion to prevent root growth directly into the ground. If you do decide to place your grow bags on a solid surface such as a deck, keep in mind they may leave a stained ring behind.

What Size Grow Bag Should I Use?

So, what can you grow in a grow bag? Any plant that you would grow in a container! When deciding what size grow bag to use, you’ll want to check the back of your seed packet. There, you should be able to find the plant spacing guidelines. Here is a quick chart to help you get started. Keep in mind, this is a rough guide and the minimum size bag you should use. If you’re willing to splurge for extra soil, opt for a larger grow bag to allow for more root development.

PlantMinimum Grow Bag Size
Herbs1-2 gallon
Lettuce2 gallon
Kale2 gallon
Carrots3 gallon
Beets3 gallon
Peppers5 gallon
Potatoes5 gallon
Cabbage5 gallon
Cucumbers5 gallon
Tomatoes10 gallon
Pepper in red grow bag

Grow Bag Questions

As you decide which grow bags to buy, you’ll probably have some questions. Here are a few common questions we have seen around using grow bags for plants:

Hopefully, this article helped you understand some of the advantages and disadvantages of using grow bags in the garden. They are relatively new to the gardening space, but we have had a lot of fun experimenting with them. Have you had any success using grow bags in your garden? Let us know what your favorite plants and vegetables to grow in bags are.

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  1. Is it a bad idea to leave my grow bags on grass?? They’ve been on the grass for a bit but I’m wondering if the moisture from the ground underneath is not going to allow them to drain completely. Thanks so much

    1. I wouldn’t recommend it for a couple reasons: It will kill the grass, and the roots from your plant may actually grow through the grow bag. It will not cause drainage issues, though!

  2. Hi,
    Grow bag size for cherry tomatoes and celebrity tomatoes, is 7 gallon not sufficient?
    Love your YouTube vids btw
    Pocono Summit Pennsylvania

    1. Scott – 7 gallons is a great size for cherry/full sized tomatoes. You’ll want to provide some support for the plants to grow on as they begin to fruit and become top heavy. Good luck!

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