Why Are Plants Kept In Bags In Nurseries?

If you have ever visited nurseries, you would have seen some plants in bags. And you might have wondered why they keep the plants in those bags. Let’s understand.

The nursery plants are kept in bags called Grow bags because these enhance plant growth much better than regular pots. These bags are lightweight, support proper aeration and drainage, are easy to move, and keep the roots healthier, which helps the plant thrive.

There are many benefits of keeping the plants in these bags. Since nurseries are always concerned about plants’ health, they use Grow bags to keep them healthy. Today, we will look at why nurseries keep their plants in bags.

nursery polybags 3

What are these bags used in the nurseries to keep plants?

The bags nurseries use to keep the plants are called grow bags.

These bags can come in jute, fabric, and plastic.

These bags can hold the plants and the soil like pots. 

They last for a long time, sometimes more than one season.

So, you can reuse them numerous times. 

They even have different shapes and sizes.

The smaller bags are used for plants with shallow root systems like spinach, herbs, lettuce, etc. 

The larger ones are used for the young plants and plants with deep root systems, like pepper and tomatoes.

Why do nurseries keep their plants in bags?

There are many advantages to keeping plants in grow bags.

Let’s take a quick look:

  • Strong root systems
  • Protection from the outer environment
  • Temperature regulation 
  • Sound drainage
  • Good air circulation
  • Prevents dehydration 
  • Reduction in soil erosion
  • Easily movable
  • Requires less space for storage
  • Eco-friendly and cost-effective
  • Seeds are started in bags
  • Grow bags can be customized

Let’s go through the points in detail.

Strong root system

Keeping plants in the bags leads to air pruning, resulting in a healthier root system. 

When a plant grows in a pot, the roots keep growing until they reach an obstacle or barrier, such as the pot edge. 

Then, the roots begin to take turns and grow circularly.

In this way, the plant gets root-bound. 

When grown in plastic bags, the plants don’t become root-bound.

When the roots grow, they get in touch with the air as the bag is breathable.

When the roots receive the air, the plant stops growing that particular root and concentrates on growing new roots.

The bags encourage the plant to grow multiple small roots, making it stronger and transplantation easier.

Protection from the outside environment

Keeping the small plants in bags protects them from the harsh atmosphere, like rain, thunderstorms, and extremely cold weather. 

The bag prevents them from facing such strong environmental conditions and creates an ideal temperature and growing conditions.

It keeps them comfortable. 

Temperature regulation

When a plant grows in a pot and stays under the sunlight, the pots get overheated easily and quickly. 

It is because most pots are made of terracotta and plastic and heat up faster.

The roots get overheated, which affects the plant’s overall health and development.

It mainly happens during the summers when temperatures are very high, and the sunlight is scorching. 

But when a plant stays in plastic or Grow bags, the heat doesn’t get trapped in the soil like potted plants.

Due to built-in holes in the bags, the hot air exits from the soil, thus preventing overheating of the roots. 

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Sound drainage

Nursery polybags

Grow bags have amazing water permeability and drainage.

The water reaches the roots, and the excess drains out easily through the holes of the bags.

Besides, since the soil comes in contact with the air, it dries out more and evaporates easily.

As a result, these plants rarely suffer from overwatering.

Supports good air circulation

The plastic Grow bags have holes in the body, allowing air to enter the soil, which is impossible in the terracotta or plastic pots. 

Adequate air circulation prevents the soil from being compact.

A flexible, loose soil permits the plant to absorb nutrients from the soil easily.

Good air circulation also helps in preventing overheating. 

Prevents underwatering

Loose soil also increases water permeability, so the roots get enough water, and the plant always remains hydrated.

It prevents the plant from suffering dehydration.

Reduces soil erosion

Grow bags can reduce the chances of soil erosion.

The breathable bags drain the excess water from the soil quickly without letting the nutrients get washed away.

It reduces soil erosion, further improving the plant’s overall development, and protects the roots from rotting. 

Easily moveable

When a plant grows in a big pot, moving it from one place to another is quite a job.

Along with the plant’s and soil’s weight, you also need to bear the pot’s weight.

But it is different in the case of plants growing in Grow bags.

You only need to carry the plant and soil’s weight.

It is lighter to handle than plants growing in pots. 

The larger pots get heavy when they are filled with soil. 

Another advantage is that plastic bags also come with handles.

You can carry them with those handles and keep them hanging somewhere with chains or ropes.

Plastic bags require less space for storage.

The nurseries have many plants and need a lot of space to keep them. 

Growing plants in the bags allow more space. 

The pots that are not in use need space for storage. But the plastic bags that are not required for some time can be folded and kept somewhere safe. 

It saves a lot of space, and nurseries can stock more plants if they get more space. 

Plastic bags are eco-friendly and cost-effective.

The plastic bags used in the nurseries are not only made of less material but are also eco-friendly and recyclable.

They are made of biodegradable materials and can be reused if they stay in good condition.

Since these bags are lightweight and require less space, the nurseries can save money while transporting them.

Nurseries start seeds and seedlings in grow bags in winter.

In the winter seasons, the nurseries use Grow bags to start new plants with seeds in a controlled environment.

It gives the seeds a perfect growing environment, thus resulting in successful germination.

Grow bags are customized bags in nurseries.

The nurseries can make their own customized bags to use for the plants. 

The bags can be made of plastic, fiber, or jute.

The fabrics are more breathable than others.

Are there any demerits of using bags for plants?

nursery polybags plants

Though many nurseries use bags to keep their plants, they are not totally safe for the nursery plants.

That is why the nurseries have to take extra measures to keep their plants safe.

Let’s look at some disadvantages nurseries face while keeping plants in bags:

The bags don’t protect the plants on colder nights

Though the bags are breathable, they are not good for plants in the winter.

The hot air gets released from the soil quickly, thus cooling down the soil faster during the cold nights of winter.

This cold weather can kill the plant if left outside.

But since the plants are kept under control in the nurseries, there are fewer chances of death.

The nurseries regularly check the weather forecast to bring the bagged plants into the greenhouse before late spring or early fall frost. 

Plants need frequent watering in bags

Since the water drains out quickly and the soil dries out due to constant contact with air, the nurseries water their plants more frequently. 

The nursery plants are watered more when the temperatures are high and the sunlight is at its peak.

If it were your home, you would have faced a challenge during summers if you ever went out for vacations. 

But since there are always people in the nurseries, the plants get water daily or every 2nd or 3rd day. 

The nurseries consider using sprinklers or drip irrigation for bagged plants.

There are other methods, too, like individual sprinkler settings, capillary mats, and spaghetti tubes.

Are bags better than pots?

Nursery Plant

Bags are better than pots in so many ways.

All the benefits shared previously are not seen for the potted plants.

Plants in bagsPlants in pots
The plants don’t get pot-bound.The roots grow in circles once the roots reach the pot edge.
The roots and soil can release hot air from the bag holes.The pots trap the hot air and overheat the roots.
The plants get adequate air circulation and drainage in bags.The pots can make the soil compact.
The nutrients don’t get washed away so easily.But in pots, the nutrients can get washed away easily with each watering.
The bags require less space for storage by folding, as they are thin materials.Pots need a lot of space for storage. 
Bags are reusable, eco-friendly, and cost-effective.Pots must be changed often when the plants go big or suffer an infestation.
Transferring from one place to another is light and easy in bags.Pots are heavier to shift.
The small plants can grow vigorously in bags due to the above merits.But, the potted plants will not grow well if the pot doesn’t support good drainage or airflow.
This table demonstrates the advantages of bags over pots.

Final thoughts

The nurseries keep their plants in bags, aiding the plants in many ways. The bags are lightweight, with holes that help in drainage and aeration.  

Bags are stored by folding and keeping in one corner and easily shifted from one place to another. The plant develops many roots in the bags, strengthening the plant and increasing its lifespan.

Plants profit a lot more in bags than in pots. But, there are disadvantages like bags can’t protect plants from cold weather. They need repeated watering, especially in summer. 

However, bags are still better than pots. So, most nurseries use them, especially for seeds and young plants.

Reference: Nursery management, Conserving Soil with Grow Bags, Nursery Polybag Size and its Effect on Growth and Quality.


Hello everyone, My name is Richa and I am here to make you a better gardener by creating an in-depth and helpful resource for all the fellow gardeners out there. If I could help even a few people understand their plants better then I call it a success for my efforts.

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