Whether wishing to grow nutritious fruits and vegetables or
looking to add vibrant color through annual flowers, the pros to gardening in
grow bags are undeniable. Increasingly popular in recent years, grow
bags are an invaluable asset to those gardening in small or less than
optimal spaces. In addition to their versatility, grow bags offer gardeners a
quick and easy way to establish lush, healthy landscapes.
While it’s difficult to downplay the pros to gardening in
grow bags, there are some cons of using grow bags that must be considered too. The
fabric grow bags are, by nature, soft but should we necessarily go “soft” on
the valid concerns and questions they raise?
Pros to Gardening in Grow Bags
(Tonya’s viewpoint) Fabric pots can be found in the gardens of
both professional growers and home gardeners. Their ease of use, in addition to
accessibility, are just a few reasons to use grow bags. Though there are many
types, it is best to select bags comprised of breathable and strong fabrics.
These bags allow for durability, as well as contribute to better overall plant
Can be used anywhere.
Many gardeners begin using grow bags when wishing to expand their home garden
space. In fact, one of the biggest grow bag advantages is being able to grow
plants in places which were previously considered unusable, such as in rented
yards or even small apartment balconies.
Can use in areas with
bad soil. Growers with heavy soils may specifically choose these bags as a
means by which they are able to grow more successful crops of root vegetables
such as carrots and potatoes. If your soil isn’t quite up to par, using a grow
bag can fix that. Much like a raised bed or container, you can grow plants in a
looser, healthier soil.
Ease of use. The
ease of which grow bags are assembled make them a viable and cost-effective
option for many people. Without the need to remove grass or prepare beds with
the use of tools, even novice gardeners are able to create impressive vegetable
gardens and displays filled with annual flowering plants.
Bags are breathable.
Additional pros to gardening in grow bags relate to factors that can directly
impact the health of the plants grown. High quality fabric grow bags allow for
excellent drainage, so issues related to overwatering are alleviated. Frequent
problems that occur with other containers, such as root rot, are not a common cause
for concern when using grow bags.
Plants produce heathier
root growth. Improved overall root health is one of the main grow bag
advantages. As the plant roots become established in the bag, their sensitivity
to heat and moisture naturally begin the process of “air pruning.” Simply, this
process allows the plant to create a more robust root system.
Grow Bag Gardening Downsides
(Shelley’s viewpoint) No one can really argue that using grow bags is all bad, BUT before you run out and buy them, it’s a good idea to know some of the downsides that you’ll be facing. This way you can make a more informed decision. These may include:
bags do not last quite as long as hard-bodied containers. It seems that the
general consensus is that fabric pots last 2-3 growing seasons, with some
suggesting that they might last as long as 4-6 seasons. This, of course, will
vary with the environmental conditions the bags are subjected to and the
overall quality of the bag you purchase.
Cost. If grow
bags do not last as long as other container options, you will want to ensure
that they are more cost effective, as you will be replacing them more often. And
the cost savings may not really compute for you. The cost of grow bags can vary
depending on the growing capacity of the bag and the manufacturer/retailer. A
five-gallon bag, for example, can start around $6 on up. If you’re replacing
the grow bag every 2-3 years, this will add up over time.
bags aren’t as pretty or chic as a ceramic or terra cotta pots. The bags are
typically a solid color (oftentimes black or gray) and do not come in patterns
or designer motifs. Hard bodied pots, in contrast, have more flair. They are
more shapely (funnel, cone-shaped, etc.) and typically have some character to them
with glazes or paints applied to the surface and textural interest with ridges
and raised shapes. A grow bag, on the other hand, looks just like, well, a bag
The grow bags that are available on the market aren’t all eco-friendly, as they
are not all biodegradable. Many are formed with poly plastics that don’t break
down. This becomes a concern when the grow bags need to be discarded and
consumptive. Grow bags require more watering than traditional pots do and
this is one of the biggest grow bag gardening downsides if you don’t have a lot
of extra time on your hands. Grow bags are porous, meaning excess water will
wick out of them rather quickly. This is an advantage in that the risk of
over-watering your plants is very slim; however, it is a con of using grow bags
for they will dry out quickly and you will need to water more frequently.
grow bags seem to be touted for their mobility, this is not always the case. Grow
bags are available in 1 to 200+ gallon size bags. Any bags over 20 gallons may
be difficult to move once they are planted because they do not have sturdy
walls or structural strength like traditional pots and, in some cases, have
weak fabric handles prone to tearing.
How Grow Bag Advantages Compare Overall to Their Drawbacks
Though there are several reasons to use grow bags, their use
may not be needed in all gardens. Grow bags can be a good alternative but they
are not necessarily the best option for everyone when you weigh the disadvantages
of grow bags. They are short lived, not-so-pretty growing vessels that may
nickel and dime you over the long term while demanding more of your time when
it comes to watering. That being said, in some situations, well-maintained
fabric pots allow for greater flexibility, and their ease of use and quick
installation make the prospect of creating beautiful gardens more attainable.