Bean plants growing out of three holes cut in a bag of potting soil
(Image credit: Kate)

Growing tomatoes in a bag of potting soil might seem like a wacky idea, but it has some merit. Before dismissing a bag as a container, find out why it benefits plants and gardens and how easy it is to do.

The Benefits of Growing Plants in Bags of Potting Soil

It’s a unique idea to grow plants right in the bags of potting soil you get from your local garden center, but there is also a lot of sense behind it. These are some of the reasons to try it and the benefits of growing plants this way:

  • Better soil. One of the best reasons to consider this type of growing is that you get purely high-quality soil for your plants. Instead of simply amending a bed with a bag or two of good potting soil, give your plants the whole bag. This is especially helpful if you have difficult soil, for instance if it is heavy with clay or rocky.
  • Save time and effort. Instead of putting in all the labor and time of amending difficult soil, just open a bag and start planting. Bag planting is an easier, time-efficient way to grow certain plants that need better soil.
  • Work around roots. Another barrier to growing plants is the root system of nearby trees. If you have a lot of root systems, or just one area of the garden that remains barren because of the difficulty of working around tree roots, just throw down a bag of soil and be done.
  • A cheaper container. A bag of soil is really just a container. It solves many of the same problems, like poor soil and tree root barriers. Containers cost money, though, and a bag of soil provides the soil and a build-in free container. It’s also a lot easier and less expensive than building a raised bed as a container.

Plants to Grow in Bags

There are two main types of plants to consider growing in a bag of potting soil: vegetables and annual flowers. These are the plants you might otherwise put in a raised bed or smaller container.

Planting vegetables in potting soil bags can be an easier way to start a veggie garden than creating raised beds or amending soil in large pots. Annuals look great in pots, but if you want them in beds with soil issues, just use a bag and they blend right into the bed. 

Steps for Growing in Potting Soil Bags

Planting in bags of soil is easy and requires few materials. All you really need is a bag of good potting soil, the plants or seeds, something to cut the bag with, and mulch.

Use a razor blade or sharp knife to cut a few slashes in one side of the bag. This will allow for drainage so the roots don’t rot. Turn the bag over so the slashes are on the bottom. Position the bag where you want the plants to grow, such as in a bed.

Cut a rectangle out of the top side of the bag. Leave an inch or so of the bag around the edge to keep the soil in place when you water. Put your plants directly into the soil. Or, sow seeds into the soil of the bag. Cover the soil and bag with mulch to match the rest of the bed.

You might need to recover the edges of the bag with mulch throughout the season to prevent it from showing. Otherwise, this is a low-maintenance way to grow annuals or veggies in your garden.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.