Think all planters are created equally? While all planters work the same way, any eco-gardener knows that some planters are better than others. The most common planters are those made with plastic material. Plastic planters may be durable and weatherproof, but they’re not exactly eco-friendly. Manufacturing plastic planters contribute to soil and air pollution. A better, more environmentally sound alternative to plastic planters are fabric pots. What are fabric pots or fabric grow bags and why should you make the switch? Continue reading our guide to find out:
What are Fabric Planters?
Fabric pots are planters made from a type of BPA-free, breathable material, usually double-layer polypropylene. These products have a soft, felt-like texture. They are quite similar to landscaping fabric. Fabric pots are available in two types: one for growing seedlings or young plants called fabric grow bags and fabric planters, which are used as containers for fully-grown plants.
Although lightweight, fabric pots and fabric grow bags are ideal for growing a variety of plants. The material works as a physical barrier that protects fragile root systems from diseases, pests, and harsh weather conditions.
Just like regular planters, fabric grow bags and fabric planters are easy to use and washable. These products are also reusable, which adds to the eco-friendliness of fabric planters. Fabric grow bags and fabric planters are best used for growing most types of vegetables and they come in different sizes too. We recommend these products for growing tomatoes, cucumbers, hot or sweet chili peppers, and green beans!
Fabric Grow Bags vs. Plastic Planters
Plastic planters are a standard in gardening simply because these products are more widely available. But the fact is, growing plants in plastic bags or plastic planters can be quite tricky especially when it comes to watering the plants. If the planters have too-large drainage holes, the soil is washed away along with the excess water as you water your plants, causing a mess. As the soil drains away, so do the precious nutrients that your plants need to grow.
Exposure to standing water could also stunt plant growth. Standing water could cause rot to set in because plant roots are quite sensitive to excess moisture. Excess moisture could also cause the soil to warm up uncontrollably.
You won’t come across the same problems with fabric grow bags or fabric planters.
Fabric grow bags allow the excess water to pass through the material without washing away the soil. This feature minimizes soil erosion that could affect plant growth while also protecting the plants’ delicate root systems from rot.
Since the material is made from a breathable fabric, standing water is eliminated, ensuring the ideal soil temperature needed to grow healthy plants. Fabric pots have minuscule holes that promote proper air circulation too.
Benefits of Using Fabric Grow Bags
Fabric pots are not just some trendy gardening tools. They are beneficial to your garden and the environment. Below are just a few of the many benefits of switching to fabric pots and fabric grow bags:
Promotes Air Pruning
Air pruning occurs naturally when fragile root systems are exposed to air in the absence of high humidity. The constant exposure to air naturally burns off the roots, which causes the plants to produce new and healthy branching roots. As the plant continues to grow new branching roots, its overall root structure and mass improves too. With its new feeder roots, the plant is able to absorb more nutrients and water from the soil, accelerating plant growth.
If the plant container is inhibiting air pruning, however, the roots do not gain much feeder roots. What’s more, the few roots that grow will start circling into themselves, causing the root system to turn into a tangled mess. This inhibits the absorption of nutrients and cuts off root circulation that leads to stunted growth and sometimes, die-offs.
If you’ve been trying your hand at indoor gardening, you'll find fabric planters quite handy especially if you are utilizing the ebb-and-flow systems. Fabric planters can be used as a filter, which allows the oxygenation of plant roots. Used in hydro systems, fabric planters minimize the occurrence of clogging of the tubes and other components, which could compromise the entire system.
Soil and Root Oxygenation
Air circulation is important when growing delicate roots. Oxygen helps contribute to the ideal rhizosphere of the root zone. Aerating the soil keeps the temperature low, which enhances the breathability of the root system’s living environment. In addition, proper air circulation allows beneficial microbes to thrive in the soil, which helps the root systems grow stronger and more resilient to harsh climates.
Fabric planter bags are made from a permeable material that promotes proper air circulation. The lightweight material allows the plant roots to absorb more nutrients and oxygen from the soil that leads to bigger yields!
Proper drainage is key to growing healthy plants, especially vegetables. If the plant roots are exposed to standing water, rot could set in. Excessive watering and poor drainage could cause plants to drown and die. These factors could also lead to mold growth, diseases, or pest infestations. Unfortunately, clay and plastic planters are prone to poor drainage. Even plastic or clay pots with drain holes at the bottom aren’t impervious to moisture buildup so plant watering should be done carefully to avoid standing water.
It’s nearly impossible to overwater plants using fabric planter bags. Planter bags are made from lightweight materials that drain excess water at the bottom of the pot while preventing soil from being washed away. The fabric wicks moisture from the sides and bottom of the pot, keeping the soil perfectly moist, never wet.
Portable and Reusable
Think fabric planters aren’t as long-lasting as regular planters? Think again. Just like plastic and clay planters, high-quality fabric planter bags are sturdy, portable, and reusable. You can easily move the planters around the yard when needed. These planters can be folded up and then stored when not in use. Fabric planter pots are resilient, they can withstand and adapt to climate changes and unlike clay pots, they don’t crack under extreme heat.
Some fabric planter bags are UV-protected so they don’t break apart during extended exposure to the sun. They may be more expensive than regular fabric planter bags but you’ll get a lot of use out of these fabric planter bags. When shopping around for fabric planter bags, always choose those made with food-grade materials.
Reduced Heat Stress
Just like human beings, plants need to regulate heat, otherwise, the plant roots become vulnerable to heat stress. Heat stress occurs when the plant root systems are exposed to heat buildup and poor drainage. During the hot summer months when the unforgiving heat is beating down on the plants, the soil temperature rises. As the soil temperature rises, the plant roots heat up. If the plants are potted and the planter material is not allowing heat to escape, the plant roots will literally “cook” from the inside and out.
Heat stress is much less of a problem when you are using fabric planter bags. Since the material allows excess water to drain off and the air to circulate, heat won’t build up in the soil. These planters retain the ideal root zone so delicate roots will not cook at extreme levels, which is a common occurrence in greeneries planted in plastic pots. Fabric planter pots keep the soil moist and cool, which allow roots to become healthy and resilient.
Fabric Planters Buying Guide
What are the important factors that you should consider when buying fabric planters or fabric grow bags? Keep these tips in mind:
The material of fabric bags will vary greatly. Some are made from recycled materials, others are biodegradable. The raw material of fabric planters made from recycled materials could be textile, cotton fabric, even bottled water. Fabric planters made from biodegradable materials can be planted directly into the ground so these cannot be re-used.
Some fabric bags come with extra components – like zippers, handles, Velcro straps, etc. – others are designed simply to hold plants. If you prefer fabric bags with all the bells and whistles, you are spoiled with options. But just make sure you’re using the right products because certain components could affect the performance of the fabric bags. For instance, Velcro straps may cause soil clogging.
Our advice is to stick to fabric bags with simple designs. A quality fabric bag with handles is a great choice if you frequently move plants around the yard. Opt for fabric bags made with enduring materials to get the most out of your money.
Some fabric pots are chemically treated, others are not. Treated fabric pots may be more resistant to the elements but they can affect the quality of the soil. If you are concerned about chemicals and dyes finding their way into the soil, avoid chemically treated fabric pots. These products contain traces of chemicals that could leach into the soil or kill beneficial critters. Choose fabric pots that are 100% BPA-free.
How to Use Fabric Grow Bags
Fabric grow bags are often used to grow plants with shallow root systems. These grow bags are also perfect for balcony or urban gardens because they do not take a lot of space. Using a fabric grow bag is easy, here’s a step by step guide how:
When choosing the right fabric grow bags for your garden, always keep the size of the bags and the scale of your garden in mind. Make sure your garden has enough room for the number of fabric grow bags that you'll use. If you are using a type of potting mix that is quite dense, it will need proper drainage so line the fabric grow bag with a layer of pebbles or chunky perlite.
Add a layer of compost or gardening soil to fill the bag almost all the way. Leave about 2 inches of space at the top of the bag. Give the fabric grow bag a good shake and knead the soil a bit so the soil is nice and level. Puncture the bottom of the bag with scissors for extra drainage.
At this point, you are ready to use the fabric grow bags to plant different crops. To make room for the plant, just scoop the soil out with a trowel until the hole is big enough to fit the entire root of the plant. Place the root ball into the soil then cover the root ball with soil. Make sure the root ball is not exposed in any way. Small fabric pots are best for small veggies, such as eggplants, zucchinis, and herbs. Larger grow bags are best for fruit-bearing trees and sizable greeneries.
After planting your choice of crops or greeneries into the grow bags, you can start with the regular watering. You can either water the plants directly on a daily basis or install a self-watering system - such as a drip system - to make plant watering even easier. Whichever way you’d like to water your plants, make sure the excess water is drained away to avoid standing water.
After growing and harvesting your crops, you can reuse the fabric planters and the soil for 2 to 3 growing seasons. If say, you’d like to store the grow bags until the next growing season, just remove the potting soil, give the grow bags a good wash and then leave them to dry completely. Fold and stow away in the shed until you are ready to grow more plants!
Where to Buy Fabric Grow Bags?
Fabric grow bags are widely available in stores that sell gardening supplies online and offline. We offer two types of premium quality grow bags, round and square. Our grow bags are made from black felt-like material that promotes proper drainage and air pruning. These fabric grow bags are guaranteed easy to install and relocate! Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest gardening resources straight to your inbox. By subscribing to our newsletter, you will also enjoy amazing deals on our bestselling products!