Growing plants indoors can be delicate business. It is difficult to trick your plants into thinking they are outdoors. But, using a grow tent makes this process much easier.
For first-time growers, it can be overwhelming to research and pick out everything you will need to get started. So, in this article, I will share the best grow tent checklist for new growers.
The items I recommend are products that I have used personally to grow peppers, herbs, and other vegetables. However, a setup like this can be used to grow a wide variety of plants from houseplants to tropical fruits and everything in between.
Basic Grow Tent Checklist
If you want a simple answer for a basic grow tent setup, here are some great choices on a budget:
- 2×4′ Vivosun grow tent (ideal for 2 large plants, not too deep)
- ViparSpectra P2000 grow light (covers 2×4′ area)
- Exhaust fan and ducting
- Carbon filter (optional, reduces exhaust odors)
- Happy Frog potting soil (personal favorite for indoor growing)
- Basic large containers
- Surge protector
- Outlet timer
With these basic items, you’ll have everything you need to grow your own plants from seed to harvest. We grow lots of hot peppers indoors, but this setup is versatile. You’ll be able to grow herbs, melons, zucchini, cucumbers, or whatever else you’d like.
Best Grow Tent Bundles
If you don’t want to buy everything separately, I’ve found some of the best grow tent bundles currently available. Depending on the desired grow tent size, any of these bundles will make a great option to get started quick:
- 2×2′ Mars Hydro grow tent bundle
- 2×4′ Spider Farmer 2×4′ grow tent bundle (personal favorite size, not too deep, nice and wide)
- 3×3′ Mars Hydro grow tent bundle
- 4×4′ Vivosun grow tent bundle
As I’ve said, the above setups are basic, and can certainly be customized further. Below, I go more in detail about the primary components of a grow tent setup, from the tent to the type of light used and much more.
1. Grow Tent (Sizes and Manufacturers)
First off, there are many different grow tent manufacturers. Some of the top selling tents come from these brands:
To be honest, most of the tents I have seen have a similar build quality and feature set. I haven’t been blown away by any one brand, but haven’t been overly disappointed either.
All of the tents block out the light inside, have reflective walls, come with metal framing that feels kind of cheap (but it works), and they’re all a bit bulky and ugly (hopefully this is going in an unused room in your home). Most have a peel-back “viewing window” for checking on your plants, and all have zip-up front doors.
There are a few unique designs available if you’re looking for something specific. For example, Vivosun makes divided grow tents with 2 separate chambers.
I would say focus on the size of the tent as a priority. Consider how much space you have in your home, and how many plants you need to grow.
As a starting point, I would recommend a 2×4′ grow tent. The 4 foot width is great for having multiple plants beside each other, while the 2 foot depth makes it easy to reach the back without walking into your grow tent.
2. Grow Light
After you select a grow tent, you’ll need a suitable grow light to fill that space with artificial light (and no, you can’t grow healthy plants with normal light bulbs). LED grow lights use less power, have better efficiency, and produce less heat than other options (HIDs, HPS, etc.). So, I’ll focus on LED lights for the sake of simplicity.
When it comes to power, a good rule of thumb is to have around 100W per 2×2′ space. So, for a 2×4′ grow tent, I would recommend a 200W+ LED grow light. The ViparSpectra P2000 is a great budget option for filling out a 2×4′ grow tent perfectly. Vivosun also makes similar lights with high-quality components.
The type of plants you are growing will change how much light is needed. Most plants grow best with at least 12 hours of light per day, while others can benefit from even more.
To control the light cycle, plug your grow light(s) into an outlet timer. I like to have my lights turn on in the early morning (at or before sunrise), and turn off sometime in the early afternoon). This helps regular temperature, as any grow light will produce some heat.
Tip: If your grow tent is in a cold location, you can have your lights come on overnight to help increase temperature in the tent.
If a proper grow light is not in your budget, consider buying second hand or scaling down your grow operation. If you’re going to compromise on quality, don’t skimp on your grow light!
3. Environmental Controls
The final aspect of growing indoors is controlling the environment. This means monitoring and controlling temperature and sometimes humidity levels.
As a bare minimum, I recommend a simple clip-on fan to pass air across the plants and soil in your grow tent. This keeps carbon dioxide and oxygen moving around, helping plant growth and reducing disease. You can also geek out and get this clip-on WiFi controlled oscillating fan (but this is overkill).
While a clip-on fan moves air around inside the tent, we need to bring in fresh air from outside the tent. A simple ventilation system removes stale air and, more importantly, reduces temperature in the tent.
To exhaust the hot air from your tent, use an extraction fan (also known as an inline fane) along with simple duct tubing. Using an outlet timer, you can set your exhaust fan to turn on every 15-30 minutes to refresh the air in the tent.
Ideally, plug the exhaust fan into a heating and cooling thermostat to reach a desired temperature. This device measures the temperature in your grow tent, turning on the fan when it gets too hot, and turning on a heater (optional) when it gets too cold.
Note: It is best to exhaust air out of the top of your grow tent. This sucks air in from down low where it is cooler, and exhausts the hotter air up out of the top.
Larger tents (4×4′ or bigger) can benefit from intake fans in addition to the exhaust fan. This can help clear out the air completely whenever the fan system is running. I personally have never had a need for an intake fan.
For many growers, temperature control is enough to grow healthy plants without any extra equipment. However, if you want to take things to the next level, you can try to control the humidity as well.
This involves introducing a humidifier and/or dehumidifier into your grow tent. Similar to a thermostat, you can plug these into a humidistat to regulate humidity. When the humidity drops below your setting, the humidifier will turn on, and when it gets too humid, your dehumidifier will activate.
High humidity can lead to mold problems with certain plants, so dehumidification can be worthwhile. Simply extracting the air from your grow tent is often enough to keep humidity levels in check.
4. Other Accessories
While the tent, light, and environmental factors are the essentials, there are some other items you may want to add to your shopping list. The following items may come in handy in the long run, especially if you ever scale up.
- Grow medium. To keep it simple, your best bet is to use a peat moss based soil medium. Coco coir is another popular choice, but either way I’d recommend starting with soil as a growing medium. Happy Frog is an excellent choice for our peppers and tomatoes, just be sure to find a soil that suits your plant’s needs.
- Pest traps. Yellow and blue sticky traps are a great precaution to take in any indoor grow space. These sticky papers will capture any flying insects that are present, allowing you to assess and deal with any pest infestations.
- Insecticidal spray. In the event of a pest problem, you need to deal with it swiftly. Indoors, you don’t have the help of beneficial predatory insects to eat the pests, so they can get out of hand quickly. For the most common pests, an insecticidal soap works great.
- Trellis netting. If your plants are large, they may require support. Trellis netting is a great way to keep plants upright and support heavy fruits. This netting is designed to fit perfectly in a 2×4′ grow tent and has convenient hooks.
- Planter saucers.To capture excess water, I like to have some form of tray below my containers. Normal plant saucers can work, or a wide boot tray for larger areas.
There are countless additional accessories you could use in your grow tent. If you grow hydroponically, you’d need a unique set of equipment and monitoring devices, etc. However, the supplies listed above are a great place to start to grow healthy plants indoors!