Indoor gardening, while offering many benefits, can sometimes be difficult. However, there are many approaches that can be adopted to give your plants the maximum opportunity to grow to maturity. Working with grow tents is one of such approaches, but how do they work and are they worth the cost?
Grow tents are waterproof, foil-covered, airtight tents designed to grow plants in optimal settings. These tents are worth it if you want to grow pest and disease-free plants indoors. They require adequate air circulation to prevent mold and fungus growth but take up little room.
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How do Grow Tents Work?
Grow tents are portable units featuring a sturdy canvas and reflective materials. The materials used in the construction are important because they help ensure better growth by allowing added in grow lights more effective. The system also features insulation, which keeps heat in to boost plant growth.
Grow tents are designed to incorporate fans for air circulation, and some designs include carbon filters to limit smells. The overall combination of the individual grow tent components works together to give an optimal growing environment for plants.
You’ll still need to control the lighting and climate in your grow tent. The settings you adopt will be determined by the plants you’re growing. Getting your grow tent’s internal climate right is important to ensure your plants have a higher chance of blossoming to maturity.
The cost of grow tents is usually proportional to the overall size and can range anywhere from $100 to $2,500.
- Small grow tents can cost less than $125 – VIVOSUN is know to make good quality more afforadable grow tents
- Medium-sized options can cost between $200 and $600 – a good example is the Gorilla Grow Tent
- The bigger sized grow tents can cost up to $2,500+ – Gorrila Grow Tents make a huge 10 by 20 foot grow tent
The cost quoted for any specific model is determined by the fittings inside and the overall build quality.
If you’re growing plants that require very specific climate conditions that the natural environment of your home can’t provide, then grow tents are almost always worth the money.
Grow tents are also helpful for people living in apartments without access to a patio or outdoor garden, and who grow out of their windowsill space. Grow tents are also useful for apartments that don’t get a lot of natural sunlight.
Below are some reasons why a grow tent may be worth it for you.
With outdoor gardening, you’re at the mercy of the natural elements. Chances are, you won’t have the right weather for gardening year-round, which can affect the type of plants you can grow and the overall management of your garden.
With a grow tent, you control the climate. This means you can grow plants all year round, from the coldest winter to the hottest summer, which drastically increases the number and type of plants you can grow in your home.
There’s a grow tent for any size of space, even if the available space is only the size of a small closet. If you have some space in your garage or a spare room, it will typically be more than enough to install a grow tent.
The great thing about grow tents is that they can be easily removed or moved around as needed.
Pests are one of the biggest problems you’ll have to deal with in outdoor gardening. Gardeners spend a lot of time, money, and energy to keep them away, and even that may not be enough in the end.
All you need to keep pests out with a grow tent is to keep it closed. Ensure your plants are pest-free when you introduce them to the tent, and only open the tent when necessary to avoid unwanted guests.
Fresh air is one of the main advantages of outdoor gardening. But a grow tent can have great air circulation as well. All you need to do is strategically place a few fans inside the grow tent and open a few air vents to keep the fresh air moving.
Grow tents are built to efficiently deliver lighting with their reflective materials inside which diffuses the light from grow lights and focuses it on the plants. Plants tend to get more light concentration in grow tents than outdoors, which helps ensure better growth overall. The energy-saving nature of the lighting setup in a grow tent makes it a cost-effective system for indoor gardening.
Even if it’s your first time with a grow tent, you can set it up on your own without any elaborate tutorials, and, in many cases, you won’t need tools to set it up. Once you have a source of power, good air circulation, and water supply, you can start growing plants indoors with a grow tent almost immediately.
Many people just buy flower plants from nurseries and big box stores. However, if you want better quality, selection, and better value overall, you might want to grow your own. The highly sensitive nature of these plants means they need a unique environment where you can stay in control of the climate throughout their growth. Therefore, a grow tent can come in handy when growing flowers.
Vegetables are another group of plants that perform excellently in grow tents. A right-size tent for the specific vegetable takes care of all the problems that make growing vegetables difficult. Lighting, temperature, and humidity are all issues you can solve with a grow tent, ensuring your vegetables will have everything they need to grow and thrive.
You can grow fruits, including figs, grapes, and some berries, in a grow tent, as long as you’re working with containers that will allow a deep and nutritious root spread for most of them.
Fruits like peaches and apricots will grow better in a grow tent in the early stages of their life cycle. A grow tent provides a more nurturing growing environment compared to the outdoors. Move the plants to bigger pots or tubs as they grow each year and prune the roots from time to time to maintain the correct size.
Like other vegetables, you can grow pepper indoors with a grow tent. You just need to ensure you choose a tent that is the right size for how big the pepper plant can grow overall.
If you’re interested in developing different pepper varieties, select the seedlings from a nursery to get started. Seedlings can save you a bit of time, but you can’t grow as many types together.
You should note that you don’t necessarily NEED a grow tent for some of these indoor plants. There are other options for growing plants indoors, including growing them in a pot in a spacious and airy sunroom. However, a grow tent simplifies the process a great deal and provides for more control.
To find out the right size of grow tent to buy, check the square footage at maturity for each of the plants you intend to grow. For example, if you’d like to grow five plants known to take up five square feet each when they mature, you should get a grow tent that has a total of 25 square feet (11.61 sqm) of space or a 5×5 (1.5 x 1.5 meters) tent.
It’s not always easy to get the exact tent size, so you should go for the next closest size or consider reducing the number of plants you’ll grow in the tent. You can also opt to keep the plants small with regular trimming. Of course, you can always choose to increase the number of grow tents you have if the space is available.
Assuming you’re growing plants that will fit in 3–5-gallon (11 to 19-liter) bags, here are suggested grow tent sizes you can go with:
|Number of Plants||Dimensions in Feet (Meters)||Dimensions in Inches (Centimeters)|
|1||2 x 2 (.61 x .61)||24 x 24 x 48 (61 x 61 x 122)|
|2||2 x 4 (.61 x 1.22)||24 x 48 (61x 122)|
|4||4 x 4 (1.22 x 1.22)||48 x 48 x 80 (122 x 122 x 203)|
|6-8||4 x 8 (1.22 x 2.44)||96 x 48 x 80 (244 x 122 x 203)|
|10||4 x 8 and 2 x 4 (1.22 x 2.44 and .61 x 1.22)||96 x 48 x 80 and 24 x 48 (244 x 122 x 203 and 61 x 122)|
|12-16||4 x 8 (1.22 x 2.44) – two pieces||96 x 48 x 80 (244 x 122 x 203) – two pieces|
Remember, you can always go with the nearest dimensions if you can’t find the exact fit. When going with approximate measurements, it’s a good idea to go with a slightly bigger size. It’s best to have more space than to not have enough space at all.
Grow tents are generally safe as long as you’ve bought a quality option that was correctly installed. They can pose a fire hazard if they are seated next to flammable objects or set up in a way that electronics can come in contact with water.
- Equipment malfunction. Grow tents have quite a few electrical and non-electrical components that are integral to the overall operation. These include fans, lights, cables, and power strips. Any of these can malfunction and cause a fire.
- Poor electrical setup. If your connections are poorly wired and the circuits are overloaded, your grow tent can catch fire.
- Improper modifications. Grow tents generally come ready for installation. However, some may not be enough for the specific use case, causing the owners to make some modifications. Depending on what is changed, the modification can ruin the tent’s structural integrity and make it a fire hazard.
To ensure your grow tent isn’t a fire hazard, here’s what you should do:
- Buy high-quality grow tents. These are made of highly durable canvas material instead of cheap vinyl or plastic. More affordable options are tempting, but if you can’t guarantee the tents won’t catch fire, the decision could prove very costly in the long run. The good news is that high-quality grow tents aren’t overly expensive.
- Keep electrical components away from water. You need to reduce the possibility of water coming in contact with electrical components in the tent, such as fans, lights, carbon filters, etc.
- Use the right light fittings. Ensure the light bulbs in use match the recommended wattage for the fixture in the tent. Overloading the tent can lead to fires, so don’t just get the most expensive lights you can find and stick them in without consideration.
- Don’t bring flammable items close to the light. Objects that can flash burn should be kept away from the tent.
- Keep a fire extinguisher. Having a fire extinguisher inside the tent that can automatically activate in the event of a fire will keep your mind at ease and avoid costly damages. Automatic fire extinguishers tend to cost more than regular ones, but they provide better peace of mind. Avoid using water to put out fires in a grow tent to reduce the risk of electrocution.
Grow tents with plants inside are not airtight. This is because plants need fresh air, and the stale air inside the tent must be released to avoid growth problems.
Some grow tents marketed as airtight typically come with systems for cycling air in and out. Though this may be useful for protecting plants from insects and other pests, a grow tent will cease to be conducive for plants if there’s inadequate air circulation.
Grow tents don’t keep the smell in, as the design of these tents is such that it’s impossible to eradicate the smell completely due to the filtration systems. Even when you’re growing plants not known for strong smells, you can expect to perceive the smell of soil and fertilizer when near the tent and especially when you open it.
However, there are some ways to reduce the smell, which we’ll cover in the next section.
If you combine a good carbon filter and an inline fan, you can deal with the smell in a grow tent better. This is because activated carbon is absorbent, so it can trap and neutralize all types of scents. An inline fan sucks a lot of air into the carbon filter, hastening the smell-neutralization process.
Carbon filters are the most effective method of dealing with the smell from using grow tents.
Installing this ventilation system in the grow tents will cycle out smells and draw in fresh air. The odors from the grow tent won’t linger in the room long; however, if you’re growing plants known for strong smells, you will likely smell it as you walk by the tent.
Air fresheners won’t get rid of the smell from your tent, but they will mask it. However, when the freshener fades away, the grow tent smell will return. So, apart from finding an air freshener that is strong enough to mask the smell, you’ll need to keep a supply of it on hand to reapply from time to time. This can get pretty expensive over the long term.
These products do what the name implies: absorb the grow tent smell and neutralize it. They work like air fresheners by masking smells, but they are stronger and last longer. Again, just like fresheners, these only work if you’re a small-scale grower. In larger applications, this approach can be very costly.
Yes, you can use a grow tent outside, as not many people have the space to set up a tent indoors. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re going this route:
- Only use tents that are high-quality and durable as exposure to the elements can damage cheap materials faster. If you can only afford cheap tents, beef them up with some duct tape and other insulation.
- Use stakes to hold your tent down to ensure strong winds won’t knock over the tent and your plants inside. These are inexpensive and can be found online or in sporting goods stores, in the camping equipment section.
- Ensure there are no holes or other entryways to your tent. Pests can make their way into your tent if it’s mounted outside and not properly sealed.
Grow tents need ventilation and fresh air because healthy plant growth is reliant on both factors. Proper filtration is also essential to keep the air fresh in and get rid of odors.
Ensure the air in the grow tent cycles out every five minutes, especially when the lights are on. If you’re dealing with heat and humidity in the environment, you’ll need to cycle out the air a lot more frequently.
The germination temperature for most plants is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-23 degrees Celsius), though some flowers and vegetables thrive around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). These temperatures are hard to achieve naturally in a grow tent, even during the warm summer months. The heat from lights is rarely enough, which is where heat mats and heaters come in.
These mats are placed under trays and pots to increase the chances of success by maintaining a consistent optimal temperature for plant growth. Some of the mats come with self-regulating thermostats ensuring hands-free temperature regulation. For others, you must set the optimum temperature for the plant manually.
If you use heaters instead of heat mats, be sure to position them far enough to avoid overheating the plants but close enough for the air system to suck in warm air.
As we mentioned above, ventilation is vital in a grow tent. A fan is important in grow tents as it can help cycle in fresh air from outside the tent and get rid of stale air. This way, you can be sure of a steady supply of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Choose either an indoor intake fan or an extractor fan—they are essentially the same and often used interchangeably.
We’ve established that temperatures in a grow tent are critical for the overall growth of any plants inside. Thermometers help you measure and regulate the temperatures inside your grow tent, which is important to maintaining the right environment for your plants.
The one problem with thermometers in grow tents is that you can get slightly different readings when measuring different parts of the tent. The roof, floor, and middle area will show different readings, making it harder for growers to know which one to go with.
To solve this problem, you should consider getting three thermometers that you can place strategically around the tent to measure the temperature at the canopy, base, and plant roots. Alternatively, you can keep using one thermometer but moving it around at intervals inside the tent.
Controlling humidity is necessary for the growth of your plants in any grow tent. Excess or low humidity will affect plant growth because any of these conditions can lead to dry or diseased leaves and stunted root growth. There are a few ways to control humidity, but a humidifier makes the job less taxing.
Plants need adequate light to process the nutrients they are receiving from the soil. Therefore, grow lights are one of the most fundamental pieces of equipment in a grow tent. Some tents come with these built-in, but if you need to buy some, be sure to choose an option that is suitable for your tent.
Affordable: Mars Hydro Grow Tent
If you’re in the market for an affordable grow tent that doesn’t compromise too much on quality, this is one of the best options in the market. The product is perfectly suited for first timers as it allows you to get your feet wet with grow tents without parting with a lot of money upfront. The setup process is also straightforward.
This is a budget tent of respectable quality. It comes with a metal frame and metal corners that can hang grow lights, and last for years. You also get a few options for running your ventilation.
It’s not 100 percent perfect, as light leakage is often seen through the zipper, but that’s a problem you can fix easily by ironing zipper covers. If you’re looking for some budget tents to get your indoor garden going, this is a good option to start with.
Best Value: Vivosun Grow Tent
This manufacturer isn’t one of the oldest names around, but the quality of their products has pushed them to the front of the grow tent discussion relatively quickly. They are known for making grow tents that offer value for money. This tent offers all the perks you can expect to see in the more conventional premium brands at an affordable price point.
Here’s what you’ll get when you choose this grow tent:
- Thick canvas
- Metal corners and a sturdy metal frame
- Highly durable zipper
- Easy view window
- Two year warranty
Highest Quality: Gorilla Grow Tent
Gorilla is one of the most popular tentmakers in the industry today, and this model represents everything they are known for: strength and sturdiness. If you choose this grow tent, you’ll get:
- A strong frame that can handle all kinds of heavy grow tent fittings
- Heavy-duty canvas and zippers that can only be damaged by the heaviest of cutting equipment
- Zero light leakage even after months of use
- Intelligently designed ventilation system
- Easy view windows
- Infrared lined roof for optimal heat retention
Overall, grow tents might be a better option for first time gardeners than greenhouses.
When thinking of an alternative to a conventional outdoor garden, a greenhouse is often the first option that comes to mind. This special room is usually constructed with aluminum, PVC, galvanized steel, plastic sheeting, glass, and other such materials and combinations.
Greenhouses provide some protection against the elements, but they tend to require lots of cooling and heating at different times of the year. Plants in greenhouses also typically depend on natural sunlight—which doesn’t guarantee a consistent source of light all year.
Grow tents are like greenhouses because they allow you to grow plants in an indoor environment. They are also constructed with metal frames, canvas, and other such materials. It is very different from a greenhouse because it allows you to maintain the perfect growing temperature and lighting day and night.
In a greenhouse, the natural conditions outdoors dictate what you can do, even when you want to optimize the conditions inside. This level of unpredictability doesn’t exist with a grow tent. You won’t have to face the obstacles that come with different seasons. When handled correctly, you can grow crops all year round with a grow tent.
Grow tents are also lower maintenance and don’t take up a lot of space. Anyone can start producing crops with one of these right away, with little to no technical knowledge.
Greenhouses require regular cleaning to keep the windows free from dirt. The construction is also often a sizable expense that can keep many people from ever starting to grow plants. On the other hand, you can buy cheap grow tents now and start growing plants immediately.
Grow tents are super-flexible units that simplify the crop production process and put it within reach of everyone with a small available growing space. Choose the perfect option for the number of plants you intend to grow, making sure it will take the size of the full-grown plant easily.
If you’re just testing out indoor gardening with these, start with the more affordable tents and upgrade when you’re a bit more comfortable.