So, you’re ready to make your own DIY grow tent… Right?
If you dream of having a year-round garden where you have complete and utter environmental control, look no further. We have the top 5 DIY grow tents to get you started.
It can’t be that simple, can it?
Well, not exactly. There is a lot to know about grow tents, and there is a lot of information out there to weed through (pun fully intended).
Since we want to help you get started on your own DIY grow tent as soon as possible, we’re providing you with the very important, very essential fundamentals of grow tents.
So, let’s start with the basics before we get into the DIY.
Like a grow box, a DIY grow tent is a constructed environment that provides ideal conditions for your plants to grow. Unlike a permanent grow box, which is typically made of powder coated aluminum, a grow tent is made of fabric and can easily be taken down, transported or modified. This makes grow tents less expensive and more versatile than grow boxes.
Grow tents can vary greatly, from indoor to outdoor; fancy light set ups to no lights at all. It can get a bit confusing. However, all grow tents are meant for the purposes of capturing and keeping in heat to encourage plants to grow better and longer.
Growing your favorite fruit, flower, plant or vegetable is no longer restricted to outdoors or specific seasons. That’s right – you can garden without a backyard and year-round.
Grow tents are affordable for nearly everyone and completely customizable. Tents can be tiny or massive, and tailored to exactly what you like to garden. They result in fewer pests and disease, making your garden more reliable and dependable.
Crops are safe from exterior elements, bugs and animals. Thanks to hydroponic systems, carbon filters, humidifiers, and humidity controllers, you have complete and utter environmental control to help your plants grow to their full potential.
On a much (much!) larger scale, grow tents can help lower your carbon footprint. Plants in general help reduce carbon in the air, so growing any plants at all can lower your footprint.
To make the most effective grow tent, you’ll need to figure out what you want to garden. The plant’s specific needs will dictate how you should make your grow tent.
Basically, most grow tents require the following:
1. Strong fabric material with a reflective inside to maximize the impact of light.
2. A frame structure.
3. Carbon filter and CFM fan for air circulation, temperature control, and odour control.
4. Lots of space for plants to grow (and for you to work on them without crushing them!).
5. A hydroponic system with an automated timer to water and feed plants.
6. Automatic high output lights.
Remember, not all grow tents require these items. It is really based on the needs of your specific plant and the outcome you are hoping for.
If you want to extend your natural growing season, you will likely want to set your grow tent up outside. If you want to start a new garden that you can work on year-round, set your grow tent up inside.
Whether inside or out, make sure to pick a location that you can dedicate to your grow tent for at least a few months. The area should be spacious enough for the tent itself, nutrient storage, extra supplies and equipment, and space for you to work.
The area should also have easy access to water and power. Before you spot an outlet and deem it the perfect place for your new grow tent, double check to make sure the electrical circuit selected can handle your grow tent needs.
We recommend not placing it by any priceless heirlooms or on a rug you can’t wash – this is a tent where gardening will take place, and soil might be spilt. Don’t place it somewhere where you will walk into it, or where your dog might get into it.
If you know you want to garden diverse plants with different needs, consider creating two small to medium size tents. This will allow you more versatility when gardening indoors. Or, you can always have one tent set to summer lighting and the other to fall, to ensure continual harvests.
However, certain grow techniques are better suited for one large tent. If you know you are going to use nutrient film technique or other hydroponic measures, stick to one tent.
You’ll need a frame for the basis of your grow tent (unless you want to give MI Gardener’s $3 grow tent a try). A frame not only keeps the shape of the grow tent and holds the exterior fabric in place, but it is responsible for holding the weight of mounted lights and other fixtures inside the tent. If the frame isn’t stable and sturdy, your grow tent won’t last long.
Grow tent frames can be made up of many different types of material, so long as it can dependably carry the weight of your grow tent operation. The two most commonly used materials in constructing a grow tent frame are PVC pipe and wood.
PVC pipe has many benefits. It’s much lower cost than wood, and simple to construct. PVC pipe comes in straight piping and easy-to-assemble corners and hinges. Because of this, it’s much easier to take apart and rebuild if you ever want to change your grow tent structure. It’s also lighter than wood, so moving your grow tent around is less of a hassle.
Wood is a fine option if you want to make a more permanent grow house and don’t trust plastics. It should be mentioned that most PVC piping on the market is safe to use, but some PVC materials can release toxic chemicals when exposed to high heat. Most manufacturers have addressed this issue by now, but you can always check the quality assurance statement or the product website for more information. You’ll also want to check the maximum weight recommended by the manufacturers.
Fabric is equally as important as a structurally sound frame. Your perfect little environment greatly relies on the right fabric surrounding it.
Clear plastic sheeting is ideal for temporary outdoor use, when you want to prolong your growing season. 8-millimeter plastic is the best option for this – anything thinner has a risk of tearing in the wind. If you are constructing a more permanent outdoor grow tent, corrugated plastic is your best bet.
Panda Film is the best product for indoor temporary grow tents. It’s cheap, waterproof, tear resistant, and the black and white polymer play different roles. The outer black side provides a light-resistant partition, and the white inside is over 90% reflective, making sure your plant gets all the light it possibly can. Reflective walls redirect a ton of light back towards your plants that would otherwise have been lost.
Last but not least, invest in a thermometer and a humidity meter. You wouldn’t want to spend all this time and effort just to let the environmental conditions in your tent run awry without you knowing it.
Okay, now you are ready to dive in…
This super simple indoor grow tent by MI Gardener is a breeze to put together, and is likely the cheapest grow tent you will be able to find.
This indoor oasis for lemon trees costs only $3 (excluding lights).
That being said, MI Gardener’s CFL grow light set up is a crucial part of this grow tent. If you follow the exact instructions for a “super deluxe” light set up, it will cost roughly $55 for one. If you are really ambitious, you can make four for $220. There are also options to make less expensive versions.
In the long run, this light set up will save you money. The metal dowels act has hangers for grow tent fabric, which means you don’t have to construct a frame.
Back to the $3 grow tent: the only fabric you need is three or four jumbo-size car reflector accordion shades. (Really!). The elastic bands attached to them (that are typically used to help contain them for storage purposes) can simply hang on the metal light dowels. These reflector shades act not only as the fabric for your grow tent, but also the frame, thanks to the CFL grow light set up.
It’s important to get jumbo-size car reflector shades so that the fabric is big enough to tuck under your plant. This reflects light back up and helps to enclose your plant in the tent environment. It also helps reduce wasted light.
This grow tent is a great, affordable way to start experimenting with indoor gardening.
If you want to kick it up and notch and get a little more advanced with this particular grow tent, we have two suggestions: use four car reflector shades to completely encompass your plant, and use Velcro or magnetic strips to securely hold the shades together, ensuring no light gets out at all.
Just a quick reminder – this is a great short-term grow tent for experimenting and maybe a few seasons. If you want something that will be a little more stable and permanent, you’ll want to give one of our other DIY options a shot. Spoiler: it will be more expensive (but still affordable!).
The DIY grow tent guide by Micro Grow Central has a detailed list of supplies with prices and even a reason as to why each brand and product is the best to use. So, if you are nervous about using the wrong material or brands – go with this DIY guide.
This is a great beginners tent that is a little more work than the $3 one, but will last longer. Also, if you don’t know what you want to grow yet, this tent is your best bet. It’s versatile and can work for most plants.
So, if you want to get down to business and construct a basic diy grow tent it has excellent instructions to kick your project off. You’ll end up with an air-tight grow tent and extra money in your bank account.
Some grow tents don’t need a light set-up, like the one from Gardening Know How. If you are looking to extend your growing season but can’t afford an elaborate green house, this no-light grow tent is right for you.
Like any basic diy grow tent, the goal of it is to capture heat and hold it in an enclosure, encouraging plants to grow longer than the natural environment would allow. For the purposes of this grow tent, you should set it up outside in your chosen planting area during spring. Setting it up in the spring will help the ground heat up and dry out faster – making your plants ready to be transplanted earlier in the season.
This tent strategy can provide you with an extra 2-3 weeks of growing season. At the end of the season, the tent can hold enough heat to allow the last of your harvest to ripen before cold arrives. The last of your crops will be able to produce more food longer, in their artificial environment.
You can either use temporary fabric or more durable, permanent material for this tent. 8-millimeter plastic sheets are the best material if you are going the temporary route. Plastic sheets thinner than 8-millimeters are at risk of ripping in the wind. For a stronger material, corrugated plastic is the way to go.
Once your tent structure is set up, you’ll want to make sure you include a thermometer on the inside. The temperature will be different from the outside and you’ll need to track and monitor the inside environment.
There are good and bad times to open your tent and work on your plants. The best time to work on your plants is when outside conditions are nice. When the weather turns and temperatures fall below the acceptable conditions for your plants, be mindful and keep your grow tent sealed up.
Always seal up your diy grow tent a few hours before sun set. This gives the tent a chance to build up enough heat to keep it warm during the nighttime.
If you still aren’t sure what you want to harvest in your diy grow tent, consider mushrooms. They are fat-free, low in calories, cholesterol free, gluten free and offer a ton of nutrients including potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin D. And, they are quite easy to grow indoors with the right grow tent set up.
The example above comes from a Reddit Form. The builder doesn’t give details about the 4-tier greenhouse they used, but we found a very similar set up on Amazon for just over $30. If you don’t already have an indoor air humidifier, Amazon also sells them for anywhere in between $35 - $300.
You’ll also need some piping to channel the wet air into the tent. The pipe should be situated at the top of the grow tent, so the cool mist will fall down, over your plants. We recommend flexible landscaping drain pipe (purchasable on Amazon). 12 feet of pipe will cost roughly $16, bringing your total up to $46, if you already have a humidifier.
The last thing you will need for your mushroom grow tent is a humidity controller. The one used in this example is from WILLHI can be found online from anywhere between $40 - $85. Grow tent humidity controllers should be kept around 95% humidity.
Humidity and fresh air are incredibly important for growing mushrooms. The humidity controller should be running the humidifier for about five minutes every couple of hours, and once daily the tent should be opened up for air flow.
This isn’t the cheapest grow tent, but the investment yields great results. Mushrooms can be grown indefinitely by taking the mushroom spore prints and creating liquid culture for new harvests.
We mentioned earlier that PVC pipe has many advantages over wood when it comes to constructing a diy grow tent. It’s less expensive than wood, easier to put together, lighter, and simpler to modify if you want to expand the tent for growing plants.
Bright Green Thumb has an excellent four-part video series, walking through the necessary steps to create a PVC grow tent with LED lights.
Part one covers the basic supplies you’ll need for a PVC grow tent frame. The frame comes out to 2 x 2 on the bottom, and measures 4 feet tall. This frame is nice and quick – it should only take 20 minutes to put together.
If you don’t want to watch the video with closed captions on, here is the itemized list:
- Kessil H150 LED bulb
- 36 feet of ¾ PVC pipe
- 8 90-degree PVC corners
- 4 PVC tees
- 1 PVC cross for the center
Part two goes into tent fabric. Like Micro Grow Central, this tutorial also uses Panda Film. You’ll need to stretch the film as tight as you can around the PVC frame, but don’t worry – Panda Film is super easy to work with.
Panda Film is made of Visqueen, which has advantages over alternatives, like Mylar. Visqueen is easier to keep clean as it’s washable; it’s stronger and more durable, and doesn’t lose reflectivity over time. Mylar, on the other hand, does lose reflectivity and isn’t washable.
You’ll notice that instead of a typical diy grow tent door, Bright Green Thumb has opted for an opening that can easily be flipped over the top. This is a great example of how easy it is to customize your grow tent for your gardening needs (so please, don’t follow directions exactly!).
If you feel a flip door gives you easier access to your plants, then give it a try. The nice thing about grow tents is the accessibility. It’s relatively inexpensive to experiment until you manage to craft your perfect grow tent.
Velcro is mentioned as the adhesive for the tent fabric. Velcro or strip magnets are both good options for holding grow tent fabric together. Zippers are commonly used for the opening of grow tents, but they can cause a lot of problems. Tent fabric is always pulled taut, and so zippers are under tension and can easily rip or break. Zippers are especially problematic for outdoor grow tents, where dirt and grit can easily become lodged in the teeth.
If you do decide to go with zippers, and find your zipper stuck, try this handy tip: apply a coat of paraffin or talc to the zipper teeth. This may help loosen it up without any ripping or damage to your tent.
Although this tent is left without fabric on the bottom, we suggest using some Panda Film for the flooring. It will help reflect the light even more and doesn’t cost you a penny.
Part three shows the final pieces that pull the PVC grow tent together.
A Kessil H150 LED light is used in this set up, but you can also use a CFL light set up or a small HID lighting system. This set up is great for a small deep-water culture hydroponic tank or bucket, which can be purchased on Amazon for under $35.
Part Four shows the diy grow tent in action, with a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion plant in the deep-water culture tank. If you didn’t know, the Moruga Scorpion is supposed to be the world’s hottest pepper.
A 3-wyatt pump running to a reservoir has been added, and Canna’s full line of aqua nutrients is being used
After only half a day, there is visible evidence of roots being established. I think it’s safe to say this set up is definitely worth trying!