In a perfect world, every gardener would have a climate-controlled greenhouse at their disposal. In such a gardener’s paradise, we can control temperature, humidity, and lighting to our whim and bring all of our knowledge to bear. Well, with a grow tent, you can realistically create multiple greenhouses – indoors! Stick around, and we’re going to show you how to make your own high-quality DIY grow tent.
Benefits of a DIY Grow Tent
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons to bother with making a grow tent at all. And just to be clear, the term “grow tent” can be used to refer to a literal tent-style enclosure, but is just as commonly used to describe an entire grow room, and anything between the two.
The most obvious benefits that come from and indoor grow tent include:
– Isolated climate control possible down to the individual plant
– Transform unused indoor spaces into a productive garden
– Significant increases to light efficiency, meaning higher yields
Okay, great. But that doesn’t really explain why you should make one, instead of just buying one that’s already designed to be a turnkey indoor growing unit. While there are any number of personal reasons for you to build your own grow tent, money is probably the #1 reason.
There is no arguing that pre-assembled grow tents offer a sleek, professional option for indoor growing.
Spider Farmer Complete Grow Tent Kit – SF-1000 Full Spectrum LED Grow Light 27”x27”x62” Grow Tent w/Samsung Diodes & MeanWell Driver
This is a powerhouse selection that comes with many of the best features available on a grow tent kit. Even if you’re committed to the idea of building a DIY grow tent, taking a moment to look at how a pro-quality kit is built can give you a much clearer picture of how you’ll design yours.
Some of the key takeaways of this pre-assembled kit include:
– 600D exterior sheathing is lined internally with mylar reflective fabric
– Samsung LM301B diodes and Meanwell LED driver are both top-shelf
– Frame construction allows for easy assembly and disassembly
– Dimmer switch allows adjustment of the light intensity
– Drawstring openings for easily connecting ventilation to fans or ductwork
– A properly-sized waterproof tray to help contain spills and drips
– A strong and adjustable ceiling support bar allows for hanging lights safely
Now, by breaking this kit down into its base components, we can point you to the individual things you’ll need to build something very similar on your own.
With our guide and some attention-to-detail, you can make a professional quality grow tent that looks good and works great!
Things to Consider with any DIY grow tent
There are a few things to bear in mind whether your DIY grow tent is made to fit a single plant, or makes use of an entire room. The central idea behind any size of grow tent is that it creates an isolated environment for your garden. The more control a grow tent allows over environmental aspects like lighting, humidity, ventilation, and temperature, the more efficiently you can tailor them to satisfy specific species.
In its most rudimentary (and affordable!) form, the grow tent simply maximizes light efficiency by reflecting it back into the plant from all angles. The indoor gardener can grow virtually any outdoor species to thriving, indoors, by including a method of control for each environmental aspect.
The most reliable methods of control are generally electronics that use sensors, meters, and timers to regulate their intended aspect. However, there are other ways to influence environmental conditions without relying on technology or electronics. After all, people have been growing plants a long time!
Ensure that you give yourself at least 24” (61 cm) of clearance above where the tops of your plants will be when mature. This may require an adjustable means of suspending your lights that is easy to elevate as the plants grow. Lightweight chains are a popular and affordable option.
The kind of lighting you are using (LED, fluorescent, incandescent, etc.) plays a major role in how much heat is released inside your grow tent. With lights regularly being on between 15-24 hours a day, it adds up. Good ventilation can help, but incandescent arrays just put out a ton of heat. Aside from the grow tent temperature, lamps that are too hot or too close can scorch the tops of plants, causing irreparable damage to some species.
Humidity is an important factor when growing temperamental species of plants that require either high-humidity or arid conditions to thrive. If ventilation is poor, humidity can accumulate and lead to mildew and mold. This can threaten the viability of an entire crop, which should indicate the importance of controlling humidity, whether through good air circulation or some other means.
Humidity can be raised in small grow tents by sealing the environment and misting the inside several times each day. Similar results can be achieved by placing an open container with some water and several large sponges inside it. A digital humidity monitor should always be used to ensure you stay inside a healthy range with this method.
Because plants that are sensitive to changes in humidity or temperature are those most often grown in grow tents, a high-quality monitor that allows monitoring via cell phone is a must.
Using these methods will benefit more from internal air circulation, like a fan, instead of charcoal filtration, or at least more patience as you discern a point of stability inside the grow tent environment. Desiccants can be introduced in place of water and sponges to lower humidity, as well.
Larger grow tents and indoor grow rooms will ultimately benefit more from portable humidifiers and dehumidifiers. These can be employed in-line with your ventilation, and commercial machines exist that can accomplish both.
Pro Breeze Electric Mini Dehumidifier, 2200 Cubic Feet (250 sq ft)
Humidity is an often unconsidered, yet absolutely vital aspect of a grow tent or grow room environment. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your humidity between 40% and 60% relative humidity (RH). You can let a clone tent get as high as 80% with some species of plant, but letting the humidity reach these levels is like inviting bloom/bud rot, mold, and mildew to get comfortable in your garden.
A sealed and isolated indoor grow tent that is hosting a hydroponic method of growing will usually face a greater risk of excessive humidity than the space becoming too dry.
One of the best and most affordable ways to prevent the humidity from climbing too high or the dehumidifier over-drying the air is to include a humidity controller that can monitor the relative humidity and turn the appropriate equipment on or off as needed.
Inkbird Humidity Controller IHC200 Humidistat – Dual Outlet and Stage
Ventilation is far more important in a grow tent than it might be in other circumstances. Inside sealed grow tents, oscillating tower fans can be used to provide the gentle airflow plants need to strengthen their main stems. This relates directly to plant health at maturity and the fruiting plant’s ability to sustain larger yields at harvest.
Also, some plants can put off strong odors that are invasive to the senses, making them generally undesirable for indoor growing. A properly sealed grow tent with good ventilation can use charcoal filtration to absorb these scents, once again showing the grow tent’s ability to bring unique species to the indoor garden.
iPower 4” 150 CFM Full Ventilation Kit
Controlling the temperature inside a grow tent will depend on a couple of factors, most importantly lighting. Lights can be the biggest contributor to heat buildup inside a grow tent. Assuming that you use LED lighting or attach ventilation legs directly to traditional light ballasts, the grow tent temperature will be consistent with the indoor ambient temperature.
However, one of the main attractions of employing a grow tent is its potential for cultivating indoors, those plants that are exclusively grown outdoors. Therefore, having the ability to affect the temperature of the grow tent’s environment separately from the home’s ambient temperature is ideal.
In full-sized grow rooms, this is easiest accomplished via portable HVAC units that are integrated with the grow tent’s ventilation. These are rarely strong enough or distributed well enough to provide the breeze plants need, so an inline fan for your grow tent is still a good idea. These kinds of systems can have an impact on the humidity inside the grow tent, so an assortment of climate monitors is highly recommended.
For hydroponic grow rooms and greenhouses, you might consider something like a portable air conditioner/dehumidifier. While it might seem like a large investment at first glance, this one device can provide both monitoring and control of the air’s temperature and humidity.
And it’s portable!
Honeywell MN14CEDWW 14,000 BTU Dual-Hose Portable Air-Conditioner with Dehumidifier
Economy DIY Grow Tent Options
– Hula-Hoop & Mylar method
– Wrapped Shelving
To save the most money when building your DIY grow tent or any other growing operation, start out by trying to use things you already have laying around. One method that has become popular for both its ingenuity and its affordability is the “Hula-Hoop Grow Tent”.
The Hula-Hoop Grow Tent is created by suspending a hula-hoop (or similar-sized frame), that has an adjustable shelf for holding the plant/s suspended from the center of it.
It’s worth mentioning that the “hula-hoop” part of the assembly need not be circular. Square frames made from unglued PVC pipe are a popular substitute, as are modified event tent frames.
If you’re handy at all with a sewing machine, or even simply resourceful with Velcro, you can use whatever size event tent is appropriate and line the inside with Mylar yourself.
VIVOSUN 6 Mil Mylar Film Roll 4 FT X 50 FT Diamond Film
While we admit there is cheaper Mylar available, we consider the diamond film texture to be superior to glossier options.
The principle is similar to the technology employed by stealth aircraft; the angular surface increases the likelihood that any particles encountered will deflect at angles that are radical relative to the surface.
This same idea is scaled-down and repeated across the entire surface of the Mylar sheet, making any light particles that strike it reflect at a nearly incomprehensible variety of directions.
In simpler terms, all light that hits Diamond Film Mylar is reflected with as much as 97% effectiveness. Additionally, the sheet has a PET coating that is waterproof, anti-corrosive, and resists tearing, creasing, crinkling, etc.
In other words, superior.
The Hula-Hoop grow tent can be wrapped with the sheet itself, or a sheet can be doubled up with an exterior sheathing to ensure no light escapes. There are several ways to attach the sheet to the hoop-frame, so do a little research first and decide on the method that best meets your needs.
How to line your grow tent with Mylar
– First, erect the event tent in the desired room, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Ideally, you should let the tent hang for a couple of days to help any packaging wrinkles relax out of the fabric.
– Next, measure the dimensions for each wall of your tent. Don’t go by what is on the packaging; use a proper tape measure and pull from side-to-side.
– Pro-Tip: Check the top and bottom of each wall panel. They may not be square, and accurate measurements here can avoid unsightly mistakes down the road. Especially if you are sewing your panels in place.
– Cut the Mylar to fit each wall. For the best results, just cut each panel to fit its appropriate side of the tent.
– If you are sewing the panels, you already know you’ll have to remove the sheathing from the frame after getting your measurements.
– You will still want to erect the tent and let it relax, of course, before doing so. This will also allow for the most accurate measurements.
– Be sure to add an extra ½” -1” to each edge to allow for hemming or adjustments. This excess can be easily trimmed if undesired.
– Feel free to be generous with your measurements when cutting. Unless you are sewing panels on, which implies a pre-existing level of skill in itself, it’s fine to let adjacent ends overlap. The same goes for height; letting six inches fold out into the floor can’t hurt and will only help reflect even more light.
– Make 3 walls in one full sheet, if possible. The entryway wall should be split into two sections, with the split providing a curtain for the doorway. Ultimately, the entryway depends on your design.
– If you are more concerned with function than looks, simply hang the panels around the perimeter! You can poke small holes and use zip-ties, shower curtain hooks, etc., spaced every 6”-12” to easily accomplish this.
– Alternatively, if you don’t want to damage the sheets, you can use some of the length and drape them over the top rail, using clothespins or clamps to fasten them in place.
– Once you have the length of a panel hung, inspect for evenness and wrinkles, adjusting as needed.
– When they are straight like you want them, you can either let them hang like curtains or devise a means of fastening to the exterior sheathing.
– If you left the length longer to provide a runner on the floor, you’ll definitely want to secure the sheet to the tent’s frame and sheathing.
– Zip-ties are the quickest way to attach the sheet to the tent’s poles. Strategically positioned velcro can help keep the fabric close to the sheathing, and in place on the floor.
As you can see, there is a lot of room between the bare minimum and the best you can do. With a roll of Mylar and a simple frame, you can make a grow tent out of almost anything. So if you’re wondering what to purchase first, it is without a doubt, the Mylar!
What material is used for grow tents?
There are a number of designs for constructing a DIY Grow Tent or Grow Room. Most of them, however, rely on a relatively short list of materials to bring the greenhouse indoors.
Some of the items that can prove essential to building the grow tent are:
– Blackout Canvas is an ideal exterior sheathing for the DIY grow tent, and will ensure that no light escape into the room, no matter how intense.
– Mylar comes in a roll, and is highly versatile. Go for the Diamond Film, as it is just as, if not more reflective than its shiny cousin, but it also boasts a protective coating.
– Reflective Insulation is less reflective than Mylar, but can be useful in temperature control. This may be more desirable for grow tents located in garages, attics, basements, sheds, etc. Its thickness can also allow mylar sheets to be stapled/glued to it, increasing its reflectivity.
– PVC Pipe and fittings
– Event Tents (frame and/or sheathing) can make pro-quality results quick and painless.
– Ventilation fan and ductwork (4” or 6”, depending on size of the grow tent)
– Air filtration canister to contain spores, particles, and odors during ventilation. We suggest making your own DIY carbon filter for your grow tent.
– Plastic sheeting, outdoor rugs, and drip trays to protect indoor flooring
– De/Humidifiers, Dessicants, and other humidity control implements. We have written guides highlighting the best humidifier for plants as well as the best grow room dehumidifiers. No matter which way you want to move the needle- we’re here to help.
– Monitors for Relative Humidity, Temperature, Light intensity, etc.
– LED lighting provides the lowest heat output, highest power efficiency, slimmest profile, widest available spectrum, and is offered in both square and circular models.
Do Grow Tents increase yield?
At a glance, the premise of the grow tent seems obvious. Keep all the light contained so the plant’s can have their fill, and they will thrive, right? Well, while a properly-maintained grow tent can increase yields at harvest, it’s not as simple as simply growing inside of a tent rather than not.
One of the biggest aspects that growers talk about when discussing grow tents is the light reflectivity. Basically, surrounding your plants with a reflective shrouding can maximize the amount of available light to all parts of the plant, which can absolutely contribute towards significant gains of growth.
A less frequently talked about aspect that grow tents offer is their isolated environment. While deviating away from ambient room temperature with precision can require skill, proper climate control can lead to optimal growing conditions, resulting in thriving growth.
Consider for a moment, however, the “3 Rules for Yielding Big Harvests,” put forth by Devin Martinez on GrowAce:
1. Use the Correct Grow Light
2. Keep Environmental Conditions at Optimal Levels
3. Proper Nutrition is Vital to Growth
Put another way, it doesn’t matter how reflective the walls are if the light being reflected is poor quality to begin with. Poor quality light could mean too low of an intensity, the incorrect wavelength (color), or inadequate duration, among other things.
To ensure that your grow tent delivers an increase in your yields at harvest, focus primarily on your light and nutrition delivery system. With those two things correct, you are essentially creating a “natural plateau”. Until they are correct, you will never know if your yield is as large as it should be. Also, make certain that the internal environment of your tent is in the optimal ranges for the species of plant you are growing, using supplemental equipment if necessary.
Can I use mirrors in my grow room?
While it might seem intuitively that a mirror would be the most reflective, and therefore ideal, material for a grow room. In practice, however, mirrors don’t reflect light very effectively at all. They also reflect heat and infrared (IR) light, which can carry thermal energy. Because they do not reflect light particles in as many directions on a micro-scale, they tend to concentrate beams and amplify. This creates “hot spots” on your plants, and will inevitably do more harm than good.
How hot is too hot for a grow tent?
In truth, however, this could vary drastically from plant to plant. Some succulents, for example, thrive in hot, arid conditions. Other plants prefer tropical temperatures and humidity, while others still prefer cooler temperature and moderate humidity. It will ultimately depend on the species of plant being grown.
“The best temperature range for indoor plants is
70°F – 80°F (at) day and 65°F – 70°F (at) night.”
In the event that the DIY grow tent is uninsulated or otherwise climate-controlled, the ambient household temperature will be the baseline. From there, careful monitoring will tell you how much heat is being put out by lights, pumps, and other electronics.
Pay attention to whether or not the temperatures fluctuate when ventilation is running. The tent should cool down when ventilation is going, but you also need to take care it doesn’t cool too much. Most ventilation kits on the market today come with monitors and controls that will turn the unit on/off at preset temperatures.
Thank you for reading our guide on building your own DIY Grow Tent. There are a number of ways to do so, with options ranging from something that fits in a closet to entire rooms being converted into indoor greenhouses!
One huge benefit of a grow tent is that you get to bring the positives of the greenhouse to the indoors. Additionally, installing reflective surfaces around the plants has been shown to maximize the amount of light available for absorption.
Whether you decide on a DIY approach, which is easy, affordable, and effective, or a pre-assembled grow tent that has been professionally designed – you are certain to see improvements to both your yield and your growing experience!