City Name

10 Unique Grow Bag Alternatives

10 Unique Grow Bag Alternatives

Always having to buy pots and planters can be expensive, especially if you go through them quickly. 

So if you’re looking for budget-friendly grow bag alternatives, you’ve come to the right place! Here are the best substitutes for any kind of plant, from decorative to vegetative:

What are good grow bag alternatives?

Good grow bag alternatives include the bamboo grow bag, potting soil bag, empty rice bag, burlap sacks, birdseed bag, dog or cat food bag, canvas, an IKEA reusable bag, old denim jeans or shorts, and an old pillowcase.

Read on as we discuss each of these in more detail below!

1. Bamboo Grow Bag

Bamboo Grow Bag
Image: BK-Bags

If you haven’t heard about reusable bags made from bamboo, then you’ve probably been living under a rock as they’ve been all the rage in recent years.

Aside from being undeniably aesthetically pleasing, one of the biggest selling points of using bags made from bamboo textiles is that they’re biodegradable and naturally durable.

They’ve also got stellar eco-credentials as they’re reportedly ethically sourced and made. Hence, it’s no surprise that bamboo-made bags are slowly becoming the new “it” bags. 

What’s great about them is that they’re made from relatively breathable materials. As a result, the soil can easily dry out, so you don’t have to worry about standing water.

Though, we still recommend testing it out first to determine whether it can drain well enough on its own. Otherwise, you’ll need to make a few drainage holes at the bottom.

However, this could also be a downside, especially in warmer climates, as your bamboo-made grow bag could have difficulties retaining moisture.

Other than that, they aren’t as easily accessible compared to the other options on this list. In other words, a bamboo-made bag is probably an item that you most likely don’t already have in your home. 

Because of this, having to buy it isn’t the most economical or environmentally-friendly option, especially if reducing waste is a priority for you.

2. Potting Soil Bag

Potting Soil Bag
Image: Roots & Refuge

Using your potting soil bag as a grow bag is definitely the hack of the century. All you need to do is to lay the bag flat on the ground and cut away the front cover. 

What’s great about using your potting soil bag is that you don’t even have to transfer the soil. This alleviates creating any mess, especially when indoors. Pretty cool, right?

Another great thing about using your potting soil bag is that they come in a variety of sizes, so you can easily plant anything, from seeds to full-grown plants without any fuss.

Potting Soil Bag
Image: Ann’s Entitled Life

As for drainage, you can simply use a sharp blade to create small incisions at the base and sides of the bag. This way, water can seep through and air can come in, especially since potting soil bags aren’t made from porous materials. 

But here’s the hitch: Most potting soil bags are made out of flimsy plastic. Hence, they’re not the most durable option and can wear easily.

3. Empty Rice Bag

Empty Rice Bag
Image: Pinterest

What’s great about most rice bags is that they’re made from polypropylene polymer fabric. This aids in their durability, allowing them to carry anywhere from 20 to 100 lbs of soil. 

Having mentioned that, you can use various sizes for different kinds of plants, from seedlings to full-grown ones. 

Another pro about using empty rice sacks is that they’re waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about water from the outside seeping through the fabric. 

However, this means you’ll need to cut holes at the bottom of the bag to provide adequate drainage, especially since polypropylene polymer fabric isn’t porous.

On the bright side, using empty rice bags is another way to reuse what would have simply been tossed out as trash. 

4. Burlap Sacks

Burlap Sacks
Image: The Telegraph

Burlap is a kind of woven fabric made from fibers of a jute plant, which is native to Bangladesh and India. 

They’re a popular and inexpensive way to reuse burlap bags that you’ve collected over multiple trips to the food market. In particular, they’re commonly used for potatoes and coffee beans.

Aside from being functional, burlap bags provide a rustic and farm-like look that we think adds a charming touch to any garden.

For those who prioritize eco-friendly practices, it’s worth highlighting that burlap material is sustainable, meaning you can reuse it endlessly. After it eventually wears down, you can add it to your compost bin without fuss. 

Burlap Sacks

Burlap bags also prevent weed growth by acting as a barrier between weed seeds and soil, which hinders them from germinating.

What’s great about using burlap bags for grow bags is that they’re naturally porous, which provides much-needed aeration and drainage. 

While burlap bags retain moisture quite well, there’s a tendency for water to drain quickly. Depending on the kind of plant you’re growing, you may need to water it more frequently.

5. Birdseed Bag

Birdseed Bag
Image: Hobby Farms

Using old birdseed bags as growing bags is another cool way to upcycle them into something useful. Apart from reducing waste, they’re great for gardeners on a budget.

While birdseed bags can come in a variety of materials, the best ones for growing plants are those made from

  • Woven plastic
  • Burlap
  • Synthetic burlap
  • Fabric

Having said that, try to avoid birdseed bags made from paper, even if it’s wax-coated, as they wear easily.

Though, regardless of the material, all birdseed bags are quite flimsy. Hence, you’ll want to prepare it by flattening out the bottom, leaning the bag against a wall, and then folding the top edges a few times before filling it in.

On the bright side, a great thing about birdseed bags is that they come in a variety of sizes. In fact, they’re big enough to grow one to three plants, depending on the volume of the bag.

6. Dog or Cat Food Bag

Dog or Cat Food Bag
Image: Petcurean

Dog owners know just how quickly their pets can breeze through dog food bags. Though, where does it go afterward? 

If you’ve been throwing out your dog’s old food bags, using them as grow bag replacements is a more eco-friendly option. Other than that, you’ll get to save on buying pots every time you grow a new plant.

Depending on the size of your dog food bag, it can hold anywhere from 1 to 3 plants at once. 

Dog or Cat Food Bag
Image: Pinterest

You can use them standing for plants that develop deep root systems. Alternatively, you can use them flat, which is great for small, bushy plants. 

Just be sure to cut holes for drainage since dog food bags aren’t porous at all. This could make aeration a challenge if there aren’t enough holes. 

Since they’re quite flimsy, too, you may want to add stakes on each corner to provide more support.

7. Canvas or Polypropylene Reusable Shopping Bag

Canvas or Polypropylene Reusable Shopping Bag
Image: The Spicy Trio

Reusable shopping bags are a great alternative to grow bags since they can be found in nearly all homes. If you don’t have any, you can easily buy them at an affordable price at your local grocery, discount, or thrift stores. 

They also come in a variety of colors, and styles which definitely helps add color and charm to any garden. 

Canvas or Polypropylene Reusable Shopping Bag
Image: Dengarden

Reusable shopping bags come in different types of materials, from canvas to polypropylene. To test out how porous your bag is, pour some water inside to see how well it drains. 

If the water passes through easily, then your bag is ready to be used as a grow bag. Otherwise, you’ll need to cut several holes to provide drainage for your plant. 

They’re quite flimsy, though, so you may want to add poles or stakes on the corners to provide more stability. 

8. IKEA Reusable Bag

IKEA Reusable Bag
Lifehacker Australia

IKEA’s reusable bags are another great option because they’re GINORMOUS. In fact, their largest size can hold a whopping 19 gallons! 

Their iconic blue reusable bags are made from a polypropylene material that makes them durable enough to hold many plants. 

Though, if you don’t need that much space, you can opt for their smaller bags, too. These will definitely be easier to manage and move around. 

But here’s the hitch: polypropylene isn’t a very porous material. Hence, we suggest filling the bag with water to test out how well it drains. 

If water doesn’t easily seep through, then you’ll want to cut a couple of holes at the bottom and sides to provide adequate drainage.

9. Old Denim Jeans or Shorts 

Old Denim Jeans or Shorts
Image: Pinterest

Who says your garden can’t make a fashion statement of its own? Denim isn’t just an iconic piece of fashion – it’s made from sturdy cotton that’s so durable that it can literally last an eternity.

So if you’ve got a couple of jean shorts or pants that don’t fit you anymore and are simply collecting dust in your closet, why not turn them into grow bags? 

Though we do have to warn you that this may require a few sewing skills, but don’t fret as they’re nothing fancy! 

Old Denim Jeans or Shorts
Image: Pay Dirt

All you need to do is to cut off the legs from the torso portion of the pants. Then, divide the length of the leg pieces depending on how tall or short you want the bag to be.

Afterward, sew the bottoms to prevent soil from spilling out. It’s as simple as that!

If you want to kick it up a notch, you can even use the torso potion and hang it by the belt loops. 

What’s great about using denim as a grow bag is that it’s already naturally breathable, which means you don’t need to cut any drainage holes. 

10. Old Pillowcase

Old Pillowcase
Image: In Color Order

Did you know that cotton-polyester pillowcases make great grow bags? They’re made from a permeable material that helps promote aeration and drainage. 

This is definitely a plus since you won’t have to stress about any standing water or constantly wet soil.

Pillowcases also come in a variety of sizes and designs, so they’ll really let your personality show in your garden. 

The only bummer is that they’re quite flimsy. Hence, we suggest adding poles or stakes in the corners to add more structure. 

FAQs on Grow Bags

Can any bag be used as a grow bag?

Virtually any bag can be used as a grow bag as long as they’re made from durable and breathable material such as cotton, bamboo, and polypropylene.

Do grow bags provide better drainage than pots?

Grow bags have better aeration and drainage than pots since they’re more porous, which allows the soil to dry faster. They’re also more breathable since they don’t retain heat.

How many seasons do grow bags last?

The lifespan of a grow bag is usually about 7 to 8 seasons. They’ll last longer when cared for well and if they’re made from pressed fabric, not woven.

What size of grow bag should I use for my plants?

Check out this table for a better idea of what size to get for the kind of plant you’re growing:

Grow Bag SizePlants
3-gallon• Parsley
• Rosemary
• Spinach
• Lettuce
• Basil
• Dill
5-gallon• Peppers
• Cucumbers
• Eggplant
• Tomatoes
7-gallon• Potatoes
• Onions
• Tomatoes
10-gallon• Squash
• Sweet potatoes
• Okra
• Broccoli

As they always say, the bigger the pot, the better for the plant. In this case, the bigger the grow bag, the more room there’ll be for your plant to develop an extensive root system.

Got any more ideas or hacks for grow bag alternatives? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *