There are lots of good reasons to use a grow bag for planting vegetables. You can use them indoors or outdoors, even if you don’t have much space. However, some plants either get too tall or have roots that are too deep for a grow bag.
So, what can you grow in a grow bag? The best plants for a grow bag have shallow roots and will not grow too tall, such as peppers, lettuce, carrots, herbs, and flowers. Some taller vine plants, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and philodendron, can trail down from hanging grow bags, or they can grow upwards if you provide support. Root vegetables such as onions, garlic, beets, and radishes are also ideal for grow bags.
Of course, using a grow bag involves more than just choosing which plants you want. You also need to provide soil, mulch, and water for the plants in your grow bags. You may need to hand-pollinate indoor plants, and you will need to provide support such as a stake, cage, or trellis for taller vine plants.
What Can You Grow In A Grow Bag
Grow bags have lots of benefits (see my article on pros and cons of grow bags), but one drawback is that they limit the root system of a plant. They are also prone to falling over if the plant is too tall or top-heavy with fruit. Let’s start off by looking at some plants with shallow roots that will not grow too tall.
Shallow-Rooted, Short Plants For Grow Bags
Let’s start off with some plants that are super-easy to manage in a grow bag: ones with shallow roots that don’t get too tall.
Growing Peppers In A Grow Bag
The roots of peppers only go as deep as 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters), so a grow bag with a height of 2 feet (61 centimeters) should be sufficient for growing peppers. For more information, check out this article from eartheasy.com on soil depth for garden vegetables.
Peppers are one of the taller plants in this category, since some varieties can grow up to 3 feet high or taller.
If you choose shorter pepper varieties, then you may not need any support for your plants at all. However, if you choose a taller variety of pepper, such as the Long Tall Sally Hybrid Pepper from Burpee, then you may need some type of support for the plant as it grows (more on this later).
You may need to stake some varieties of pepper plants as they grow, to keep the grow bag from falling over. For more information, check out my article on how to keep pepper plants from falling over.
Growing Lettuce In A Grow Bag
The roots of lettuce only go as deep as 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 centimeters), so you really only need a grow bag that is 1 to 2 feet (30 to 61 centimeters) deep.
Lettuce does not take up too much space above ground, since the foliage is compact and it does not spread to take up a large area. Most lettuce plants will not grow taller than 1 or 2 feet in height.
Most lettuce will only grow to a height of 1 to 2 feet tall before bolting (when seeds form and the lettuce starts to taste bitter). As a result, you won’t need to worry about support for lettuce, and you won’t need to worry about your grow bag falling over due to the weight of the plant.
Try the Burpee Bibb Lettuce here.
Growing Carrots In A Grow Bag
The root of a carrot (which is the edible part!) only goes to a depth of 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters). In fact, most home gardeners have trouble getting carrots to grow longer than 1 foot (30 centimeters), so you won’t need a grow bag much deeper than that.
Carrots take up almost no space at all above ground. All you will be able to see above ground is some small green growth (usually less than foot tall) that looks like parsley.
Be sure to keep rocks and soil clumps out of your grow bag – if carrots encounter any obstacles as they grow, the root will fork or split and the carrot will come out deformed (however, the taste will be unaffected.)
For an interesting twist on carrots, try the Purple Dragon Carrot from Burpee. The carrots grow to 6 inches long, and the foliage above ground only grows as high as 4 to 8 inches tall.
If you have problems growing big carrots, or get small, bumpy, cracked, or deformed carrots, make sure your soil is good. For more information, check out my article on the best soil for growing carrots, and my article on how to prevent deformed carrots.
Growing Herbs In A Grow Bag
There are two good things about planting herbs in grow bags. One benefit is that there is no fruit to speak of, so the plant will not be weighed down. The other benefit is the shallow root systems of most herbs.
According to the University of Illinois Extension, the root system of most herbs will only grow to a depth of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters), with 10 inches (25 centimeters) being the maximum. So, a grow bag with a height of 1 foot (30 centimeters) should be sufficient for growing herbs.
Some herbs, such as rosemary, can grow to a height of 3 to 5 feet (91 to 152 centimeters), with a similar width of 3 to 5 feet. As such, you may want some support for some of the taller rosemary plants, such as the Tuscan Blue Rosemary from Burpee.
You can also grow basil, sage, oregano (or Mexican Oregano!), thyme dill, fennel, and mint in your grow bags, among many other herbs. For more information, check out this article from the University of Illinois Extension on growing herbs in containers.
Growing Flowers In A Grow Bag
As with herbs, there is no heavy fruit to worry about when planting flowers in grow bags. In addition, most flower roots only grow to a maximum depth of 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters), meaning that a 2-foot-tall grow bag is more than sufficient for most flowers.
You can find flowers that only grow to a height of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters), such as the Cool Wave Raspberry Swirl Pansy from Burpee. However, some flowers, such as the sunflower, can grow as tall as 30 feett – you can check it out on the Guinness Book of World Records!
You can also grow phlox, petunias, zinnias, and many other flower varieties in your grow bags.
Tall Vine Plants For Grow Bags
If you have a trellis or stakes to offer support, you can grow the following vine plants in your grow bags. Alternatively, you can hang the grow bags and let the vines trail down to the ground, without providing any support at all.
Growing Tomatoes In A Grow Bag
Tomatoes have a deep root system, going as deep as 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91 centimeters) or more. This means that you will need deeper grow bags for larger varieties of tomatoes.
Tomatoes come in two basic types: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes will grow to a maximum height, perhaps 4 to 5 feet (122 to 152 centimeters) and then stop growing. Indeterminate tomatoes will grow until they are killed by winter frost, to a height of 6 to 10 feet (183 to 305 centimeters).
As such, many tomato varieties will require support in the form of cages (for shorter determinate varieties) or stakes and trellises (for taller indeterminate varieties). For more information, check out my article on tomato cages and my article on supporting tomato plants.
If you don’t want to deal with setting up support for tomato plants, you can let gravity help you instead. Just hang your grow bag up high (5 feet or higher), and let the tomato vines crawl down towards the ground as they wish. That way, you won’t have to worry about the weight of fruit or vines knocking over the grow bag.
For something a little different, try the Yellow Pair Tomato from Burpee, which has 4 ounce yellow fruit in the shape of pears.
Growing Cucumbers In A Grow Bag
Cucumbers have a root system that reaches a depth of 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters), so a 2-foot-tall grow bag is sufficient.
Some cucumber varieties can grow as tall as 6 to 7 feet (183 to 213 centimeters), while others will be less than a foot tall at maturity. For more information, check out my article on the height of cucumbers.
This means that many cucumber varieties will need support in the form of a stake or trellis in order to grow to full height. Otherwise, they will fall over and grow along the ground, creeping along until they find something to climb.
As with tomatoes, you can hang a grow bag with cucumbers and let the vines trail down towards the ground, eliminating the need to provide support to your plants as they grow.
For something a little different, try the White Wonder Cucumber from Burpee.
Growing Philodendrons In A Grow Bag
Philodendrons will happily grow in a grow bag with a depth of less than a foot, but their growth may be limited if the container is too small for a complete root system.
One of my oldest philodendron plants has a vine that is about 5 feet (152 centimeters) long, but the vines can get longer than that. If you provide support, the vines on your philodendron will gladly climb and wrap around a trellis as it grows taller.
Otherwise, you can hang your grow bag and let the philodendron vines make their way down to the ground.
I like the heart-leaf philodendron, which has white and green foliage and long vines (check out heart-leaf philodendron on myhouseplants.com), but there are lots of varieties of philodendron for you to choose from.
Root Vegetables For Grow Bags
The “fruit” of the following root vegetables grows underground, but they don’t go too deep, so you won’t have any problem if you plant them in grow bags.
Growing Onions In A Grow Bag
Onion roots only grow to a depth of 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 centimeters), so a grow bag that is 2 feet tall is sufficient for them.
The part of the onion plant that grows above ground (long, thin green leaves) does not take up much space, and they are usually only about 12 inches (30 centimeters) tall. You can tell than onions are done maturing when these leaves all fall over.
Onions take a long time to mature (some can take 100 days or more), so you need to be patient! For an onion that stores well for a long time, check out the Patterson Hybrid Onion from Burpee.
If your onions always seem to end up smaller than you would like, check out my article on how to grow larger onions in your garden.
Growing Garlic In A Grow Bag
Garlic also has a root depth of only 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 centimeters), so a grow bag that is 2 feet tall will hold them easily without disrupting growth.
Garlic can grow a little taller than onions above ground, with some varieties achieving heights of 24 inches (61 centimeters) or taller.
Try the Sonoran Garlic from Burpee, which can be harvested 90 days after planting in the spring.
Growing Beets In A Grow Bag
Beets have a root system that grows to a depth of 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters), so a 2-foot-tall grow bag will be necessary.
Some beet varieties may only grow to a height of a foot or so (30 centimeters) above ground, so they don’t need any support.
Try the Moulin Rouge Beet from Burpee, which has a purple-red color.
Growing Potatoes In A Grow Bag
Potatoes get an honorable mention because they have a shallow root system that only goes to a depth of 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 centimeters).
The part of the potato plant above the soil can grow to a height of 2 feet (61 centimeters) or taller, but they generally do not need any support.
The best part about potatoes is the harvest. At the end of the season, you can dump the contents of your grow bag into a wheelbarrow with a soil sifter on top.
Move the sifter back and forth, and all that will be left on top is your potato harvest. The soil that went through the sifter can be reused after you add some compost and other nutrition.
For something a little different, try the Magic Molly Potato from Burpee.
For another interesting way to grow potatoes, check out my article on growing potatoes in a straw bale.
Now you have some ideas about what you can grow in your grow bags, depending on whether you can provide support to the plants, and how large the grow bags are.
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone else who can use the information. If you have any questions or advice about what you can grow in a grow bag, please leave a comment below.
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