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Grow Bags vs Pots for Growing Cannabis: Which is Better?

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Grow Bags vs Pots

It’s often overlooked, but there’s a large industry that focuses on making pots and bags for growing plants, specifically the cannabis industry has a ton of options for containers. When choosing which one to grow in, the benefits of each can get a bit confusing.

It may seem like a silly thing to get hung up on, but the plant will spend its entire life inside of these containers and it really has a big effect on the growth and yield at the end of their flowering cycle.

So, which is the best, pots or bags?

What’s the Difference?

Pots are solid containers made of a variety of materials including traditional plastic, ceramics, and fabric planter pots sometimes with holes in the bottom for drainage. They’re sturdy, give plenty of structure, and work well as a permanent and reusable type of growing setup.

Bags, on the other hand, are soft and conform to whatever is put into them. There are two main varieties, plastic and fabric, which are generally quite a bit cheaper than pots. In a one-off situation, where reusability doesn’t matter, bags are a very budget-friendly choice.

It’s also entirely possible to start a grow off in a pot, and once the plant has started to outgrow its home or roots are beginning to penetrate through holes in the bottom, move the entire pot into a bag with new soil.

When used in this way, bags work as a sort of pot expander.

Both types of containers give structure to the plant as they grow, but depending on the material components of them they can give other benefits to cannabis horticulture as well.

Types of Pots

This is the biggest category, since pots get used frequently for indoor plants in offices and homes. As a result, there’s a lot of different types available and viable.

Plastic

These are the cheap, plastic pots that are available in big stacks at pretty much every store’s home & garden section.

Pros
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to modify for drainage
  • Transplanting is simple
Cons
  • Lack durability
  • Flimsy material doesn’t protect roots well

Ceramic

The traditional and iconic terra-cotta pot has been a popular option for plants for millennia and remains a viable choice even now.

Pros
  • Sturdy and stable
  • Holds temperature well
Cons
  • Adding holes is near impossible
  • Very heavy and unwieldy for transportation

Fabric

This is a less traditional option that is ideal for grows where more maintenance isn’t a concern. It offers excellent drainage and aeration in exchange for these efforts.

They also allow for a technique known as “air pruning”, where the roots actually grow outside the walls of the pot and are trimmed back manually.  When done correctly, healthy and dense roots are the result.

Pros
  • Excellent airflow
  • Plenty of drainage
  • Great for big root systems
Cons
  • The flimsiest type of potted planter
  • Dries out quickly and requires a lot of attention

Air Pots

One of the newest options for potted plants. These work similarly to fabric pots, in that they provide excellent airflow to roots and allow for air pruning techniques, without the flimsiness issues.

Pros
  • Excellent drainage and aeration
  • Healthy root systems
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Same high-maintenance problems as fabric

Types of Bags

Bags tend to be quite a bit simpler than the options for plant pots. The basic concept is to hold the soil or growing medium together as loosely as possible, with the plant growing directly out of the top of the bag. This allows for the root structure to spread out quite easily, which can have a positive impact on plant yields. Efficiency in the short term is the idea here, versus display or long-term reusability with pots.

Plastic Bags

The biggest benefit of using something like a plastic bag for growing on its own is just the cost-saving factor. They’re very cheap and widely available, but very little structure and rip apart fairly easily.

Pros
  • Very cheap
  • Easily Replaceable
  • A lot of sizes available to accommodate roots
Cons
  • Almost no structure to speak of
  • Doesn’t breathe or drain well when intact
  • Very difficult to move around

Fabric Bags

Fabric has the advantage over plastic when it comes to bags, mostly because of the durability and breathability of them. They are still quite a bit cheaper than pots, if slightly more expensive than plastic bags. There are also many options for biodegradable fabrics if climate impact is a concern.

Pros
  • Roots can breathe easily
  • Fairly durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Many biodegradable varieties
Cons
  • Difficult to move
  • Little structure
  • Can have drainage issues

Other Considerations

Depending on where and how the plants are growing, certain factors should be considered for whether to use bags or pots. Some considerations should be taken when deciding based on:

Mobility

If the plants need to be picked up and moved frequently, then pots are almost certainly the way to go. Even though pots can be heavy, the lack of structure from bags makes this quite difficult.

Outdoors

Bags tend to be ideally suited for an outdoor environment. It’s similar to growing directly in the soil, but with more benefits to the root structure by allowing oxygen to reach the roots as they grow.

Pots can also work here, but the container buts constraints on root growth that can impact potential yields.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8OMpFAhv1T/

Indoors

The lack of structure from bags makes an indoor grow a bit of a headache. It’s not impossible by any means, but pots allow for things to be kept neater and more organized while indoors.

Pots also allow the grower to control the growth on the plant, if its size could be a problem.

Budget

Pots, though reusable, are quite expensive when purchasing a lot of them. Bags win out here as well, at least in the short-term, though they mostly need to be thrown away or recycled after use.

Environmental Concerns

Throwing away a bunch of plastic bags is obviously not very good for the environment, but neither are plastic pots for that matter. Biodegradable fabric bags are a great choice if this is a concern. Certain types of pots are also biodegradable; however, they tend to be quite costly.

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Bag Pros
  • Cheapest option
  • Allows for large root growth
  • Many fabric bags are environmentally responsible
  • Work great outdoors, when space isn’t a concern
Bag Cons
  • Very difficult to move
  • Flimsy
  • Messy and unwieldy indoors
  • Plastic bags are bad for the environment
Pot Pros
  • Mobile
  • Sturdy
  • Easy to organize indoors
  • Controls growth
Pot Cons
  • Expensive
  • Plastic pots are environmentally problematic
  • Constraints on root growth

Conclusion

Bags allow for a bit higher yields due to the way they allow roots to spread out and breathe more, but require much more maintenance. At the same time, they tend to be the cheapest option.

Pots are much more mobile and easier to control while the plants are growing, but tend to be a bit more expensive than bags. They also hold back some potential from the plant, but in a lot of cases, this won’t really make that much of a difference.

Both options can work well in most scenarios, but to get the most from your plants, the right container should be used in the right situation.

Featured Image Credit: Cannabis Tours, Wikimedia Commons