August 18, 2020 8 min read

By George Mouratidis

When we ask a question like, "How many cannabis plants fit in a 4' x 4' grow tent," we expect a straightforward answer. After all, don't manufacturers list their max plant capacity on the label somewhere?

Unfortunately, it's hard to say how many cannabis plants could fit in this tent size. OK, wecould say each cannabis plant needs between 1 – 6 square feet, but that doesn't help home-growers adequately prepare their space. Rather than focusing on standard ranges, we feel it's more beneficial to explain how different growth factors affect your available area.

Significantly, we recommend that home-growers keep this rhyming phrase in mind: "strain & train." The strains you plant and the training techniques you use play a massive role in determining how many plants could fit in your tent. That's not to say other factors influence your tent space, but they usually aren't as consequential. 

So, to get a more accurate read on how much ganja will fit in your grow tent, we're going to focus on how different strains and training techniques affect plant size. We'll also review a few secondary factors to help you better predict how many plants to place in your tent.

How To Train Your Dutch Dragon — Training Techniques & Available Space

Most often, cultivators use at least one training technique to maximize their indoor yield. Although all of these training methods share the same goal (i.e., make more buds), they each have unique spatial requirements. So, when you're considering how many plants you could fit into your grow tent, one of the first things to research is how training affects them. 

Let's take a quick look at four of the most popular training techniques and how they alter your grow tent's capacity. 

The Small & The Many — Sea Of Green Training

On paper, Sea of Green (SOG) training seems too good to be true. With just a simple adjustment to your lighting schedule, SOG promises large yields in a ridiculously short time. And if that wasn't enough, since SOG plants don't grow all that tall, home-growers could fit upwards of 16 plants in their 4' x 4' grow tent.

The strategy behind SOG is to trick your plants into flowering ahead of the recommended schedule. After only two to three weeks in the vegetative stage, cultivators will deliberately change the lighting schedule to a 12/12 cycle. Home-growers will also trim their plants' leaves to ensure that "ganja juice" is going into the buds.

Because SOG requires you to skip a few weeks of vegetation, it's the fastest way to grow a ton of buds. Plus, since you've stunted your plants' development, they will all be significantly shorter—which means you can fit a ton of plants in your grow space. Typically, each SOG cannabis plant only requires one square foot of space.

On the downside, SOG is one of the costlier training strategies because it requires you to plant a ton of seeds. Plus, since SOG plants are smaller than full-grown flowers, they tend to have lower yields per plant. 

While you cumulatively might garner higher yields using SOG, many home-growers can't afford to plant so many seeds. It's also important to remember that many states have strict laws on how many marijuana plants you can grow. If there's a cap on how much cannabis you could grow at home, you’d be better off researching how to get more buds out of your legally-permitted plants. 

The Art Of MJ Bonsai — Low-Stress Training 

Low-stress training (LST) is one of the simplest training techniques, but that doesn't mean it's just for beginners. Indeed, many cannabis experts argue that LST is the safest and most effective way to maximize indoor yields. As a bonus, home-growers using LST typically only have to leave two square feet of space per cannabis plant. 

The basic idea behind LST is to bend your plant in such a way that light better penetrates potential buds. To do this, growers strategically turn various stems and tie them down with string or twine. By creating a "level playing field," LST encourages more buds to grow on the bottom of your plant. 

If you choose to use LST methods, we encourage you to use soft strings or twine rather than metal wires. However, even if you are using string, there's always a risk you could snap a branch. Please pack an extra dose of patience if it's your first time using the LST method. 

Also, it's always best to do the most aggressive bending early in the vegetative stage when branches are the most flexible. By the way, some growers claim it's easier to work with branches before watering...so it's worth "tying" out! 

Flattening The Curve — Screen Of Green

Similar to LST, Screen of Green (SCROG) is a training technique that increases bud production by exposing more branches to your grow light. In fact, it's not uncommon for experienced home-growers to use both LST and SCROG in their grow set-up.

Unlike LST, SCROG involves placing a wire rack over your plants to "flatten" them out. Usually, these racks have wooden frames with string, plastic, or twine linings. As buds continue to reach for the light, home-growers gently push the buds under the wire rack until they notice at least 50 percent coverage. At this point, you should move on to the flowering stage. 

Although SCROG helps growers produce more buds per plant, you won't be able to fit many pots inside your 4' x 4' tent. Since SCROG places emphasis on horizontal training, it should come as no surprise that it requires the most space. 

At a minimum, each SCROG plant needs between four and six square feet to grow adequately. Also, keep in mind that each of your plants needs one foot of separation when using SCROG. 

Is It Safe To Chop The Top?

Of all the high-stress training techniques, topping is one of the most widely used in weed circles. As the name suggests, "topping" involves snipping off what would become the top branch during the seedling phase. 

When done correctly, this technique forces your plant to send all its energy to two growth stems on the side. Advanced growers could take this a step further and top each of these new stems to create four main colas. 

Unlike the standard cannabis plant, topped marijuana plants take on a bush-like appearance. For this reason, pruned plants can take up extra space. Indeed, home-growers using this method should factor in anywhere from two to four feet per cannabis plant. 

Before you break out your scissors, please remember that this technique places a lot of stress on your plant. You should only trim your seedling when you see a minimum of four nodes and healthy leaf production. These features are a good indication that your plant is strong enough to recover from topping as it moves into vegetation. 

How Do Strains Affect Grow Tent Space?

In addition to training style, strain selection plays a significant role in determining how many plants will fit in a 4' x 4' grow tent. Since no two strains are alike, home-growers need to research the standard yield, appearance, and height of their chosen variety before purchasing a batch of seeds. 

In particular, cultivators need to be careful when selecting sativa plants. As you might already know, sativa strains tend to grow extremely tall and lanky. Incredibly, some purebred sativas could soar up to 20 feet, so it's good to have some LST experience. 

By contrast, purebred indicas and autoflowering strains rarely measure above six feet tall. Because these strains are so short in stature, they are ideal for home-growers who only have enough free space for a tiny tent or grow box.

While this indica vs. sativa distinction is useful, please don't rely so heavily on it when analyzing seeds. Indeed, since there's so much hybridization in today’s cannabis industry, it pays to take extra time to get the dirt on your preferred strain. The more data you have on your strain's appearance, the better you can space out your grow session. 

What Pots Make The Most Pot? – A Few Container Considerations 

Another issue indoor growers have to consider is how many pots adequately fit in their grow tent. Unfortunately, there's no standard pot size for pot, so choosing the "right" container largely depends on what strain you're growing.

As you'd expect, larger strains have longer roots, which means they need more space to reach their full potential. By contrast, auto strains can usually reach their peak potential in smaller containers.

The best way to begin sorting out your container size is to figure out your strain's average height. Many cultivators recommend giving your plant a minimum of two gallons per one foot in height. While this is not an exact science, it could give you a "ballpark figure" for the ideal pot size.

Please also keep in mind that your container size does have an impact on yield. As you ramp up the gallons your pots can hold, you'll have to account for taller and broader plants.

Pro tip: many home-growers favor square pots over circular ones because they tend to give you more space to work with.

How High Could Your Grow Tent Go?

We've spent a lot of time going over how to accurately assess your tent's size, but height is also critical. Even with training techniques like LST, your plants will inevitably rise towards that bright grow light. You must have enough space between your light and your plants to avoid bud burn.

How much space should there be between bud and bulb? Like many other questions in the cannabis world, there's a lot of debate on this issue. As a rule of thumb, however, you should ensure there's at least three feet of space between your plants and your light unit.

Most of the 4' x 4' grow tents now on the market have a height of five feet, which is generally considered the minimum for a successful grow operation. In some cases, however, five feet might not be enough. For instance, if you like cultivating sativas, you might need a taller tent to accommodate your chosen strains.

You should also consider the size of your grow light when trying to determine your tent's ideal height. In general, HID units take up more space than LED panels, but every light has unique dimensions customers need to review. 

To get a sense of how diverse today's grow light market is, be sure to take a peek at Everything But The Plant's light catalog. Here you'll find various LED and HID models well suited for any indoor grow. 

Could A 4' x 4' Tent Contain Your Cannabis Cravings?

For many home-growers, 4' x 4' is the Goldilocks size for grow tents. No matter what training technique you use, these tents typically reward growers with moderate to heavy yields without taking up too much space. 

Just because 4' x 4' tents are popular, of course, doesn't mean they're the best "fit" for you. You always need to consider the available space you have and the yield you want before picking your grow tent.

Luckily for contemporary cultivators, there are plenty of grow tent sizes to choose from. Whether you're looking for closet-friendly boxes or massive 10' x 20' tents, there are plenty of products to suit each home-grower's circumstances. Please be sure to look through all of the sizes now available on Everything But The Plant's grow tent catalog


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