Grow Tent Setup: The Complete Guide
This comprehensive guide to setting up a grow tent, covers everything you need to know, including their usefulness, what to consider before purchasing one, how to set up a grow tent, and how to determine the appropriate size and number of plants to grow. If you're interested in growing cannabis indoors, here you'll find all information you need to get started.
Grow Tent Basics
What Is A Grow Tent?
Growing indoors has been life changing for millions of cannabis growers all over the world.
Wherever growers are facing unforgiving weather, cannabis state laws, noisy neighbors, a grow tent came to save the day.
A grow tent allows you to create a contained environment with light reflecting material all around, for cannabis plants to thrive.
Here you are the one who has a say over temperature, humidity, air exchange, and the amount of light your plants get.
Professionals use grow tents in order to achieve the most powerful and best looking buds.
For beginners, grow tents simply streamline the growing process making it way easier. Even first-timers can achieve impressive results with a grow tent.
Unsure of what type of grow tent to get? Learn everything you need to know with my guide on Types of Grow Tents.
Why Use A Grow Tent?
1. You Control The Environment
Nature might be the way it was intended.
But grow tents are the next level.
Where outdoors you can lose your mind fighting bugs, humidity, rains, terrible colds or scorching sun, indoors your plants will enjoy the perfect growing conditions.
You control everything: from the growing medium (soil or hydroponics), to the wind, the ambient humidity and temperature.
On top of that you won't depend on the sun, since indoors your grow lights will provide high light intensity with the right color spectrum, from 12 to 24 hours straight.
2. Privacy To Grow
Cannabis doesn’t just smell when you smoke it. It also smells, and a lot, when your cannabis plants are flowering.
If you don’t contain the odor, people that live around or near you will start to notice.
On top of that, light leaks can make it look like an UFO landed somewhere in your home.
A grow tent helps you to keep the lights in, and the smell somewhat enclosed, providing you with privacy to grow (it will still permeate in the room).
In case you need zero smells, grow tents also got you covered. You can attach a carbon filter to your ventilation setup, to scrub out the smell of cannabis and exhaust odorless air.
3. Mylar Reflective Interior Boosts Photosynthesis
The Mylar interior with close to 100% reflectivity will boost the grow light effects even further. Ensuring that the most amount of leaves get as much light as possible.
The reflected light reaches the side and even lower leaves, that would usually be under the shadow of bigger upper leaves.
Not only that, but buds benefit from this extra light as well.
Photosynthesis depends on light, and it's a process extremely related to plant growth and development, so you can imagine how all this extra light benefits your plants.
If you want to go even further, some growers even prune their plants, removing leaves that aren't as exposed to the light so they don't waste resources.
Or you can use plant training techniques to get as many leaves as possible exposed to the light.
4. Avoid Pests And Infestations
The enclosed space of a grow tent keeps unwanted pests at bay.
If you’ve ever tried to grow outdoors you know how quickly insects will land in your crop.
From grasshoppers biting chunks of leaves, to thrips and spider mites infestations.
Your plants will be safer inside than outside. As long as you keep temperature and humidity under control, and you maintain a certain level of hygiene.
Before Buying A Grow Tent
Now that you've seen how grow tents are useful, there’s a few things to consider before buying one.
Specifically on this chapter I'll go through the requirements of the grow space, grow tent features, and it's limits.
So if you've ever wondered how to tell two grow tents apart, you'll find out in this chapter.
Where Do You Plan To Set Up Your Grow Tent?
If your grow tent is going to be inside your home, and you have a stable comfortable temperature, you should be okay for the most part.
But you should worry if your grow tent is in your garage, your basement, or any other place where temperatures are not ideal or experience drastic changes.
A good quality grow tent ensures a better contained environment.
More stable temperature, humidity, and air exchange for your plants, which results in much better yields.
Other than that, consider placing your grow tent near a water source, such as a sink, so you won’t be carrying bucket after bucket to water your plants.
And an outlet and power strip nearby is needed for installing grow lights and fans.
How Will The Tent Ventilate?
I’m sure you know, but ventilation is key to keep temperature, humidity and CO2 under control.
Which is key for your plants health and resulting yields.
Grow tents come with various ventilation ports, some for active ventilation (ports for inline duct fans), and some for passive ventilation (mesh vents).
Make sure the intake and exhaust ports are located in a way that aligns with your room setup.
A way that corresponds to the way you’re planning to exhaust used air and get new clean air in (i.e. don’t plan to place the intake against a wall).
Ducting Ports, Vents And Windows
The specifications and amount of ducting ports, mesh vents, and viewing windows will vary for each grow tent.
Different grow tents have different sized ports.
The best ones will offer dual-cinching ports, so you can get a good seal (around the exhaust, or closing unused ports) so the grow tent is as light-proof and as insulated as possible.
Some grow tents incorporate one or more viewing windows.
So if you want to check on your plants, without opening the tent and disturbing the enclosed environment.
Another feature that you’ll find in most grow tents are ventilation windows at the bottom.
Usually with a mesh to block insects and dust from getting in.
Mesh vents are used as air intakes, to allow for new air to get inside the tent, while an exhaust fan takes the used air out from the top of tent.
Weight Limit: Hanging Bars, Poles And Corners
Generally speaking, poles are strong enough in most grow tents on the market.
If for whatever reason, you’re expecting more weight than normal, look for a tent with steel poles so you’re sure everything will be okay.
You could be looking at extra weight if you have heavier, or multiple grow lights, or a complex ventilation setup.
If you plan to give your grow tent a lot of use, and you expect it to last through the years, I strongly recommend you also look for steel corners with interlocking mechanisms.
These will last a lot longer, and be much easier to use.
Canvas thickness is actually really important in grow tents.
The tent canvas determines your grow tent durability, and low quality grow tents are prone to tear and rip.
More so, thicker canvas grow tents will keep light inside more efficiently, and are better insulated for heat, noise and smells.
Your grow tent should be constructed from a high density canvas fabric made of either polyester or nylon.
600D is pretty much the standard for grow tents right now. D is for Denier, a unit to measure fabric thickness.
And goes all the way up to 1680D.
Or all the way down to 200D for low quality tents.
A heavy-duty grow tent could pull through in any space with just a roof, floor, and walls.
However, I do not recommend exposing a grow tent to the elements. I bet the best of them could do the job in forgiving weather, but these tents are made for indoors.
Access And Ease Of Use
What you'll be doing the most in your grow tent is working inside and around the plants, watering, feeding and checking up on leaves and buds.
And cleaning of course, mostly spillage, dead leaves and dirt.
So make sure your grow tents have big enough access so it's easy for you to tend to your plants.
Some grow tents will feature a little door at the front, while others will let you unwrap the whole fabric up to 360º.
Zippers used in the grow tent are also very important.
Low quality zippers can jam and even break, making it really frustrating.
Look for tents with good zippers, metal preferably, and with velcro flaps to hide them and prevent light leaks.
The next thing you're going to appreciate about grow tents are floor trays.
These allow you to (after removing the plants) take off the whole floor off the tent.
Now you can clean normally and put it back when you're done.
Another good thing about floor trays is that they're also covered with Mylar, which is waterproof and easy to clean and wipe down.
Grow Tent Size Matters
In this chapter you'll learn how to choose a grow tent size, how many plants you can grow, and how tall they'll grow.
Fortunately, grow tents come in all kinds of sizes.
There are mini tents starting at 1×1 feet, and really big tents all the way up to 10×20 feet.
So if you're trying to figure size out, this chapter is for you.
How Big Of A Grow Tent Do I Need?
If you’re a beginner I suggest you start with a smaller one, with fewer plants.
What you really want is a grow tent size that fits well in your home, while giving you as much projected yield as you might need.
Grow tents are measured in feet, 4x4 means 4 feet wide by 4 feet long.
Height is specific to each model, we talk more height in a section below.
Smaller tents are still big enough to let cannabis plants grow and mature correctly, while not taking that much space in your home.
Plus, having less plants leaves less room for error, and less time taking care of them (they do take a lot of time to take care of).
Most growers go for 2×4 grow tents. 3×3, and 4×4 are also really popular.
I recommend you get one of these unless you know your game.
How Many Cannabis Plants Per Grow Tent?
To determine how many plants fit in your grow tent, it all comes down to your growing technique.
Of course you can let the plants grow on their own.
But the point of growing indoors is exploiting the limits of the usable space and light available.
For this reason cannabis growers usually choose one of the following plant training methods. Here are a few configurations known to work efficiently.
The SCROG (meaning Screen of Green) is a training technique in which plants are grown through a mesh or a net.
SCROG allows you to get the best yields out of a grow tent, two to three times the yield of normal growing methods.
When using SCROG we can grow 1 cannabis plant per 4 square feet.
As the branches will spread through the netting, covering as much grow tent area as possible, therefore getting as much light as possible.
These plants grow bushier and their buds thicker.
Since the plant is evenly distributed across the netting, and getting the same amount of resources throughout her branches.
Instead of growing a normal plant with one big cola, you get evenly distributed colas all throughout your grow tent.
SCROG is great for all tent sizes but it's specially good for small grow tents.
Low Stress Training involves bending the branches in order to get light to distribute evenly across the canopy.
By carefully bending the branches of the cannabis plants, you expose more of the plant to the light and ensure bigger and thicker buds.
Approximately 1 cannabis plant per 2 square feet will work well for Low Stress Training.
You can bend the branches in different ways, you can use wire, string, or specific gardening protected wire, to tie a branch of the edge of the pot.
You can also use a net, SCROG is a form of LST after all.
Sea Of Green is a cannabis growing technique that consists of getting as many small plants per square feet as possible.
With this technique plants spend very little time vegging, allowing you to harvest as fast as possible.
From 4 to 9 cannabis plants per 4 square feet.
Individual plants will be small with one main cola and little to harvest. But since there are so many of them, you still get a pretty good yield.
Height: How Tall Will Your Plants Grow?
Finally, your grow tent should feel comfortable to work with while tending to your crops.
The height of your grow tent makes a big difference.
Generally when growing indoors you’ll be growing Indica strains, which are shorter and bushier species of cannabis. Grow tents are perfect for this kind of cannabis strains.
If on the other hand, you’re growing Sativa indoors, I definitely recommend you go for the Gorilla grow tent, which is the tallest and also allows for attaching height extension kits.
If you need details you should check with the Seed bank what’s the expected height of your specific seeds.
And remember that grow lights need to be hanged at a safe distance from your plants, so there's a few extra inches of height to add up.
Now that you've got grow tent size covered, let’s go over how to set up a grow tent.
How To Set Up Your Grow Tent
By now you have chosen a grow tent size, have planned out how many plants you’re growing, and got yourself a grow tent.
If you’ve got that covered, let's go over how to do a complete grow tent setup.
In this chapter we'll review:
- Things you need to set up a grow tent.
- Assembling your grow tent.
- How to set up ventilation and grow lights.
Basic Grow Tent Supplies
First, lets get together everything you’re going to need to set up your grow tent.
There’s quite a lot of things actually.
These are the minimum requirements for a setting up a grow tent:
- Grow lights.
- Inline Duct Fan.
- Hanging equipment (Clip hangers, wire, other).
- Timers for the lights and fan.
- Pots with mixed soil, or an hydroponic system.
- A power strip.
These are extra accessories that can aid you with your cannabis crop, but are totally optional:
- Oscillating fans.
- Carbon Filter and Ducts.
- Thermometer / Hygrometer.
- Fan silencer.
- CO2 generator.
- Humidifier or dehumidifier.
- Heater or AC unit.
Unpacking And Assembling Your Grow Tent
Grow tents are easy(ish) to put together.
You should be able to set it up by yourself, but sometimes two are better than one.
Brands will include some kind of instructions within the package for you to follow.
But I’ve found many of them are not reliable or easy to understand.
If you get stuck, the best thing to do is to search for a demonstration video for your specific model or brand.
If your grow tent brand is a little bit known, most likely someone has uploaded a video putting it together. Else you can also check the setup videos for one similar to yours.
But if you're one to read...
Usually setting up a grow tent goes something like this:
- Take the contents out of the box and lay them on the ground.
- Separate all the different poles, fabrics and little trinkets that come in the package.
- Correctly identify each piece and where it’s supposed to be placed with brand instructions.
- Lay the grow tent on the ground and flatten it out. The bottom on the tent facing the floor.
- We’re going to set up the base first, so it's time to assemble the bottom poles inside the tent, in a square shape.
- Now we’re moving vertically. Take the longer poles and attach them to the base, these are going to hold your walls.
- Then, assemble the ceiling in a square shape just like the bottom, and attach it to the vertical poles.
- Now, unroll the fabric along the vertical poles, all the way to the top.
- Last but not least, Zip it up!
Ventilation And Odor Control Tips
Once you’re done assembling your grow tent, it’s time to set up the ventilation system.
I have a very extensive guide on exhaust and ventilation setup if you want to get into the details of ventilating.
But, there’s basically two ways you can set up your ventilation, passive or active.
This step will likely require you to use clip hangers, wire or strings in order to attach your inline fan to the top of your grow tent, and the exhaust port.
Exhaust Fan With Passive Intake
Passive intake relies on a fan blowing air out of your tent, but there is no fan blowing air from outside in.
Instead you use an intake hole that passively allows new air to enter the tent.
Intake vents are usually at the bottom of the grow tent.
So your exhaust fan should be placed at the top of the tent, opposite to the intake vent.
Doing so makes the air travel across and through the plants.
Active Air Intake And Exhaust System
An active intake system consists of two fans working together.
One to keep air from inside the tent blowing out, and another to keep air blowing air in.
Again, place the intake fan at the bottom ventilation port, and the exhaust fan on the opposite side at the top.
Since most fans allow you to control their speed, you can find your own balance that helps you to get the right temperature and humidity in your grow tent.
If you want to grow with discretion using a carbon filter you can prevent your living space from smelling of cannabis.
Hang the carbon filter inside the tent and make sure the air from your grow tent needs to pass through your filter before being exhausted outside.
This way, the air will go through the carbon filter first, then the exhaust fan vents the filtered air to a space outside (first picture).
Silencer For Extra Stealth
The silencers is attached to the fan and muffles the air from the exhaust, making a lot less noise.
And they work really well. Keep in mind that it will restrict airflow and you’ll need to factor it in your calculations.
Oscillating fans allow for blowing and distributing air around your grow tent evenly.
While also ensuring the breeze is strong enough to keep your plants’ stems strong to eventually hold big fat buds.
There are even specialized grow tent fans that are much smaller and clip-on to your tent’s poles.
Set up the oscillating fans in a way that your whole crop gets some air-action.
TIP: Try to keep all your fans on Timers, so they will only work when needed, instead of 24/7.
Setting Up Your Grow Lights
Now it’s time to set up the grow lights.
Whether you use quantum boards, blurple LEDs, or some other kind of grow light, you need to keep a couple things in mind.
Firstly, plants thrive under certain light spectrum and light intensity conditions.
And there is such a thing as “too much light”.
You don’t want the biggest, most expensive grow light.
But you want one that caters to the size of your grow tent. One that not only can cover the entire area, but provide enough watts per square feet so that your plants can thrive.
32 to 40w per square feet for LED for flowering cannabis.
Each grow light will come with specific instructions about the area covered and the recommended safe distance from the top of the plants, so they won’t get light burns.
So be sure to check yours.
Last but not least, remember that grow lights must go on a timer, as you want their light and dark hours to be consistent day after day.
During vegging cannabis plants can benefit from 12 to 24 hours of light, however during flowering cannabis plants need 12 hours of darkness to develop proper buds.
If you need to know more about lights make sure to check my guide to the different kind of grow lights for growing cannabis indoors.
Other Accessories You Might Need
The next most used accessory in grow tents are dehumidifiers.
Humidity can be really difficult to control in some cities or houses, and having high humidity can destroy your entire yield.
Fungi like bud rot and powdery mildew run amok cannabis crops, and with the wrong humidity they’ll set in your plants and quickly being to expand.
Believe me, you want nothing to do with these guys.
Another very popular accessory to have in your tent is something to control the temperature (plus a thermometer!).
Cannabis plants grow better in warm climates.
If the temperature is too low or too high, plants won’t be able to reach their potential and will be prone to stress and infections.
Small grow tent heaters are used to increase temperatures in grow tents, while mini AC units are often used to cool them.
As you may know, plants absorb Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and “breathe out” oxygen.
Unlike us, they need more carbon dioxide than oxygen in the air to remain in good health. This invisible gas assists in the process of photosynthesis, and without it your plants will “suffocate” and die.
So… you may want to go the extra mile and inject a little extra CO2 into the grow tent? The short answer is improved plant development and bigger yields.
Doing so can even make your plants more resistant to heat and light. Meaning the temperature in your grow tent can be higher, and your lights more powerful. Maximizing everything in the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Grow Tents Worth The Expense?
Although a grow tent can seem like an investment at first, it pays for itself soon enough.
Growing indoors allows you to harvest many times a year, giving you a constant supply.
Unlike growing outdoors, where you’ll be waiting for the right time of the year to harvest.
If you were planning on building your own grow room, I strongly suggest you do so.
But only if you can’t afford a grow tent.
Or on the contrary, if your operation is so big that grow tents just won’t do.
You also have to consider running costs.
Grow lights and fans will impact your energy bill.
Luckily newer LED grow lights have the technology to provide high light intensity with low energy consumption.
Unlike former popular HID lights which are unforgiving in this sense.
Last, you’ll be able to control the growing environment to the very last detail.
Which means you can use fertilizers and nutrients more efficiently, and not waste them on deep soil or have the rain wash them off.
Are Grow Tents Safe?
Indoor grow tents are perfectly safe, no one will get hurt around a grow tent.
But there are still a few things to consider.
Pay attention to the tent canvas material.
Stay away from cheap plastic tents. These are PVC or polyurethane tents that might leak dangerous chemicals into the growing environment.
And if there were an accident, plastic tents would burn super fast.
Good quality grow tents are made of dense fabric, not plastic.
The more dense the fabric, the better insulated from the outside.
This material, along with the Mylar from the inside, are also waterproof and heat resistant, tho not fireproof.
Other than that, you also have to always make sure your cables and plugs are neatly organized. And not near any water source or possible spillage zone.
Hang your cables or keep them outside the tent if you can.
Finally, the top poles of the grow tent need to be resistant.
You’re going to hang a few things from them so they need to able to handle the weight.
Make sure the grow tent you choose can support lights, inline fans, possible a CO2 filter, possible oscillating fans.
If you plan to hang even more stuff, steel poles are the best option.
But as long as the grow tent is a quality one, you will be fine.
Grow Tent Or Grow Cabinet?
Some of you guys have probably considered buying a grow box or cabinet.
Which is basically a discreet closet-type box that makes stealth growing really easy.
No one will suspect this inconspicuous piece of furniture holds such beautiful plants.
Some of them come with very cool automation systems.
However they are really really expensive.
You can buy a low quality grow tent for $50, and a low quality grow cabinet is worth around $500 (light included).
And where a good quality tent can be worth around $200, a good quality grow cabinet is sold for more than $2,000.
My recommendation is to just go for a grow tent.
Unless you can afford it without sweat, or you absolutely need a grow box.
Multiple Chambers Or Multiple Tents?
Some experienced cannabis growers like to have two or more tents.
They have a set of plants vegging in one grow tent.
While another tent contains a set of flowering plants.
And maybe another one is being used to dry the previous harvest.
Having said this, some grow tent brands offer tents with multiple chambers isolated from one another.
Mostly one main chamber for the bigger plants, and the small chambers for seedlings and clones.
This multiple chamber grow tents don’t really allow for a continuous year-round harvest.
They will, however, allow you to have flowering plants on the main chamber, and start a new set of seeds while you finish them off.
If you can afford it I recommend going for two or more grow tents, as they’ll give you the most flexibility for perpetual harvests, and best return for your investment.
Grow Tent Kits
Like it or not, there are a few too many details to growing cannabis in a grow tent.
There's plenty to consider and plenty to buy.
Brands have capitalized on this and are offering grow tent kits.
Which are bundles containing the equipment for you to start growing right away.
They all come with a grow tent, a LED grow light, a fan, and a carbon filter.
Others also include extras such as a timer, rope hangers, a thermometer, and a few trinkets.
The problem with this grow tent packages is that in order to make it sexy to the buyer, they need to keep the price down.
Since the grow tent stays the same. That means the quality of the other equipment is lower.
The grow lights you'll get are not the best ones. The same goes for the inline fan and the carbon filter.
But, they are on the cheaper side.
So it's still a good deal for beginners or people who might want to cut down the investment.
I have reviewed 3x3 grow tent kits and found a couple of strong candidates.
What Not To Do In A Grow Tent
It's important to know that there are a few things growers sometimes do that can harm your plants or your grow tent directly.
Never Move Your Tent With Plants Or Equipment Still Inside
I know, I'm quite lazy and I'm guilty of having done this in the past.
But it's really a bad idea.
If it goes wrong you can tear the fabric making it unusable, for ever.
Or worse, drop something on your plants and break or hurt them.
For your own sake, take everything out, move the grow tent, then put everything back in.
Don't Keep Your Grow Tent Dirty Or Cluttered
This might seem obvious but, don't leave litter in your grow tent.
Try to keep it as clean as possible.
Remove dead leaves, wipe water spillage, as well as dirt that might fall from pots.
Also make sure you don't leave stuff that doesn't belong there.
I've seen people cluttering their tents with empty boxes, hoses, and just stuff. Don't be that guy.
Every little thing you leave on the floor it's creating new cozy homes for unwanted guests.
Insects and fungi will set up camp in all kinds of materials and waste.
Keep it clean!
Never Leave Your Plants Unattended For More Than 2 Days
You can miss a day, no big deal. But you must keep a close eye on your cannabis plants.
Being an enclosed and small environment problems can spread fasts.
From a nutrient deficiency, to spider mites, to aphids, to bud rot, you need to detect the problem quickly so it won't spread and become unbearable.
Don't Put Pieces Of Food On The Soil
I see this done a lot and is a terrible mistake.
Pieces of banana peels or egg shells do nothing good to your plant.
On the contrary, the decomposing matter will attract pests and create hot spots for fungi.
Real composts requires a dedicated container, and lots of time for the organic matter to become usable.
Don't Bring Outdoor Equipment Inside The Tent
Once again, pests.
Anything that is usually stored outdoors should be kept there so you won't invite these little buggers inside.
Now I’d Like to Hear From You
Hope you found this new grow tent setup guide helpful.
Now I'd like to hear what you have to say:
What about this guide piqued your interest the most?
Is there something I didn't cover and you have questions about?
Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.