From the category archives:

Indoor Gardening

Grow tents provide the perfect controlled environment for indoor and outdoor settings alike. They are, in effect, portable greenhouses that give the grower precise control over the humidity, ventilation, light and temperature or any give flowers, herbs and plants. The come in sizes small enough to fit in a closet or large enough to repurpose a spare room as an ad hoc garden, making them ideal for the urban grower.

Physical Features

Conventional grow tents, on the smaller end, are usually around two feet deep by four feet wide and five feet high. On the larger end, tents can be four feet deep, eight feet wide and seven feet high. Most tents are framed with steel tubing and enveloped with a black canvas exterior, though there are occasional variations in the color and material. The canvas can open in the front or the sides—or both, depending on the design—and are usually closed with zippers. The sides of the canvas will feature one or more cuff-like ports for adding accessories like exhaust fans and filters. Most frames are made with cross members that snap into place, so only minimal assembly is required.

An HID grow light usually illuminates the inside of the grow tent. The interior of the canvas is most often lined with Mylar or a similar reflective surface. Mylar is preferred, since it offers up to 95% reflectivity, and since HIDs are less efficient than LED grow lights, it’s important to preserve as much of the light as possible. The taller the tent, the more plant trays it can accommodate.

Key Advantages

Grow tents (sometimes called grow boxes) are heat resistant, which can protect their contents from hot climates but also from drops in internal temperature. The temperature inside the tent can be regulated with ventilation, or by simply opening or closing the sides at strategic times. In an outdoor setting, for instance, the sides can be opened during the daytime; and just before the temperature drops at night, the sides can be closed. Many grow tents feature brackets near their ports for mounting an exhaust fan, which can be set to a timer if desired.

A grow tent also offers fantastic protection against pests and mold. A common pest indoors is the spider mite. Spider mites can wreak havoc while going unnoticed by growers, since they’re too small to be easily visible without magnification. Since spider mites thrive in hotter climates—70 degrees and up—their infestation inside a grow tent can be discouraged by keeping the internal temperature down to around 60 degrees. By keeping the humidity level inside the grow tent at or below 50%, and maintaining sufficient light, the tent can significantly prevent the growth of mold, particularly bud mold (also known as gray mold) that can be a serious thread to plants. Dehumidifiers and fans can also keep mold growth in check.

Beware of Plasticides

One of the biggest controversies in the recent past of grow tents is offgassing from plants from linings with plasticides like PVC and polyurethane. Offgassing (also known as outgassing) is the release of potentially toxic chemicals from plastics and volatile organic compounds. The “new car smell” is an example of offgassing whose danger is mitigated by ample ventilation and the low dose inhaled by drivers, but small plants trapped in tightly closed quarters are prone to whitening of the leaves and thinning of the branches.

It used to be common to find grow tents with a white plastic inner lining, but these tents have almost all be recalled or replaced with reflective Mylar interiors, which have the added advantage of being 30% more reflective. Despite the fact that white plastic lined tents are largely out of production, it’s not uncommon to see used models for sale through online auction sites and resellers stuck with old inventory, so be on guard for these units.

The Grow Tent Is Ideal for Home Growers

In the past, many residents of smaller homes and apartments would insist that they lacked the space or the climate to grow anything substantial, but grow tents are perfect for germinating seeds and growing flowers, plants and herbs in the city, in cold regions, or just about any other conditions. With only a few square feet of space, homeowners and apartment dwellers can now try their hand at becoming a grower.

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