Grow bags have become an increasingly popular option for cultivating plants in small spaces without access to traditional garden beds. Whether used by home gardeners or commercial farmers, grow bags provide a portable and convenient planting solution. There are generally two main materials used to manufacture grow bags - fabric and plastic. Both have advantages and disadvantages that gardeners should consider before choosing one over the other. Fabric grow bags are typically made from natural and breathable materials like jute or cotton. Plastic bags, on the other hand, are durable but non-biodegradable.
What are Grow Bags?
Grow bags are portable planters that can be filled with potting mix or soil. Seeds or seedlings are planted directly into the mix inside the bag. It comes in various sizes depending on the type and number of plants being grown. The bags are lightweight and movable, allowing plants to be placed in different areas, like a sunny spot, as needed. It is convenient for anyone with limited outdoor space to grow vegetables, flowers or herbs.
Fabric Grow Bags
Because grow bags available at Bombay Greens are composed of Geo fabric and recycled plastic, these gardening grow bags are environmentally friendly. The fabric quality and its sustainability make fabric grow bags beneficial over plastic grow bags. Fabric grow bags are an environmentally friendly option because they decompose completely in the soil, returning nutrients to the plants. Compared to terracotta or plastic pots, our plant grow bags are significantly lighter because they are composed of lightweight fabric. Using such fabric grow bags eliminates long-term non-degradable plastic trash. Fabric grow bags are an affordable option because they can be reused for several seasons with the right care and storage.
Key Advantages of Fabric Grow Bags
- Biodegradable - Fabrics like jute and cotton will break down completely if left in the soil after use, returning nutrients to the soil.
- Environmentally friendly - Natural materials like jute and coir break down without causing any harm to the environment.
- Better drainage - The porous weave allows excess water to seep away from roots.
- Increased aeration - Air can freely move through the bag, reducing root rot stress.
- Natural texture - The slight rough texture of fabric grow bags encourages stronger root structures.
- Contains nutrients - As the fabric degrades, it releases trapped nutrients back into the soil.
- Long lasting - If properly cared for, fabric bags can be reused for several growing seasons.
- Environment-Friendly- By composting fabric remains, nothing ends up in landfills.
- Cost-effective - Initial investment worthwhile due to reuse potential and no replacement costs.
- Healthier plants - Breathable fabric encourages optimal root development without constraints.
- Attractive appearance - Bags blend nicely into gardens without eyesores of plastic debris.
Plastic Grow Bags
Plastic grow bags are a commonly used alternative to fabric bags. Made from durable polyethene resins, plastic bags can withstand years of repeated use without tearing if properly cared for. They are lightweight and inexpensive, making plastic a cost-efficient choice up front. However, there are some drawbacks to fabric options. Being non-porous, plastic does not allow for the same air exchange and drainage as natural materials.
Over multiple seasons, moisture can become trapped inside and potentially lead to root issues. Another downside is that plastic bags are not biodegradable. Once damaged, they generate long-term waste that will persist in landfills or outdoor areas indefinitely. Some environmental concerns also exist around chemicals leaching from the resin over time. While initially affordable, plastic grow bags may require replacement more often than reusable fabrics.
Key Disadvantages of Plastic Grow Bags
- Non-biodegradable - Most plastics do not break down in the soil and stay intact for many years, creating landfill waste.
- Root binding - Plant roots tend to circle inside smooth plastic walls with no texture for drainage or aeration.
- Overwatering - Water collects in plastic bottoms rather than draining through like fabric, encouraging root rot.
- Greenhouse effect - The plastic retains heat and can scorch or dry out plant roots without enough ventilation.
- Leaching - Certain chemicals in plastic, like plasticizers, bisphenols or phthalates, may leach into soil over time.
- Lifespan - Plastic bags need frequent replacement once they crack or tear more than fabric bags.
- Carry compounds - Residual mould release agents used in production may affect soil chemistry.
- Blows away - Lightweight plastic is more prone to being blown around in windy conditions.
- Not reusable - Dirty plastic cannot be cleaned and reused as readily as fabric bags.
Tips for Using Fabric Grow Bags Effectively
Select natural, breathable fabrics like cotton, jute or coir. Synthetic materials like vinyl provide less aeration and should be avoided. The proper fabric encourages optimal root health.
Before filling the bags, closely examine them for any holes, weak seams or thinner areas. Repairing bags proactively helps prevent root issues later on. Catching small flaws early extends the usable lifespan.
For most vegetables and flowers, a bag holding at least 10 litres of soil allows generous root growth without constraint. Consider sizing appropriately for each type of plant.
Potting mixes formulated for fabric bags incorporate ingredients that retain moisture without becoming waterlogged. This balances the needs of both plants and natural fibre containers.
Gradually acclimate bags and seedlings placed in full sun to prevent moisture and heat stress. Monitor young plants closely until adjusted to peak sunlight.
Check soil moisture frequently when the plant is small, watering only when the top inch is dry. Fabric breathes well, but too much water can still pool without adequate drainage.
On excessively warm days, lay fully-filled bags open or cut slits in the sides to improve airflow and evaporative cooling around roots.
Rotating bag positions or moving into partial shade on afternoons above 30°C can protect temperature-sensitive roots and leaves.
Between uses, store empty bags elevated and in a covered, dry area shielded from UV sunlight that can degrade natural materials over time.
Fabric Grow Bags have several distinct advantages over plastic grow bags for both home and commercial gardeners. Their natural breathability and biodegradability make them an eco-friendly option that still provides the benefits of portable planters. With proper care, these bags can offer several seasons of reuse without the worry of chemicals leaching or long-term waste creation inherent in plastic versions. For these reasons, fabric grow bags may be considered a better choice when selecting containers for starting plants or growing vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Bombay Greens is an online garden store providing fabric grow bags and other gardening essentials. So, if you are a garden lover, start developing your terrace garden or home garden with our gardening supplies.