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How to Pick a Growing System

How to Pick a Growing System

Choosing a growing system? Before you buy, ask yourself these 8 questions.

1. Size

How much floor space have you got?


First, your system needs to fit!

You also need space to spare for lateral plant growth and for you to access your system.

To give you a rough idea, here's what you could get in our three most popular size tents:

2.4m x 2.4m
Oxypot R-DWC 1 x 16 Pot
AutoPot 1 x 16 Pot
RhizoSystem 1 x 16 Pot (standard), 1 x 8 Pot (XL)
Flood & Drain 1 x 16 Pot
RUSH 1 x 40L, 4 Pot, 2 Lane, 62cm Lane
Hydro-Duct NFT Channel 6 x 2
XL (120cm x 120cm)
OxyPot or OxyPot XL 1
Oxypot R-DWC 1 x 4 Pot
AutoPot 1 x 4 Pot
RhizoSystem 1 x 4 Pot (standard)
NFT Gro-Tank 424 1
Origin 1 x Large 4 Pot
XXL (120cm x 240cm)
OxyPot XL 2
Oxypot R-DWC 1 x 8 Pot
AutoPot 1 x 8 Pot
RhizoSystem 1 x 8 Pot (standard), 1 x 4 Pot (XL)
Flood & Drain 1 x 6 Pot
NFT Gro-Tank 901 1
Origin 1 x Large 8 Pot

We've been a bit conservative here so you don't overcrowd plants or struggle with maintenance.

2. Height

How much head room do you have?


In any tent, you need to keep a safe gap between your canopy layer and your lights.

If you don’t have much height...

..it can be a tight squeeze.

Try to get plants as close to the floor as you can.

Why? To leave a bigger gap between plants and your lights as plants grow. 

Pick a low profile system. NFT Systems & Multi-Ducts are great – they’re just 20cm high.

Or you can always put pots straight onto the floor or on Flexi-Trays.

If you’ve got the headroom...

...you can afford to use a taller system – like a RhizoOrigin.

3. Ease of Use

How much time have you got?


The more automated your system, the more time you’ll save. Look for:

  • A hydro system 
    There's no messing with media
    (e.g. NFT, DWC, R-DWC)
  • A system that runs 24/7 
    You don't have to check your system as often
    (e.g. NFT, DWC, R-DWCAutoPot)

4. Maintenance

Can you check your system daily?


If not, choose a system that you only need to check a couple of times a week.

We’re talking about RhizoSystems (Drip & Drain) and AutoPot Systems.

You don’t have to check your feed daily. Just top up your tank and carry out other routine plant checks.

5. Method

Do you want to use growing media?

If growing organically, you need to use media...biological, organic nutrients and hydro systems don’t mix well.

Using media is also a more forgiving way to grow. Roots are insulated from temperature changes and you don’t have to tweak your feed as much.


You can get a bigger yield if you use a hydro system. Without growing media:

  • Roots are incredible!
  • Roots have more access to oxygen
  • Nutrient uptake is faster
  • You get an incredible yield
  • You don’t have to pot on
  • You can’t underwater or overwater

There’s no media to restrict growth…better yet, roots have more access to oxygen, and instant access to nutrients.

Growth is amazing!

Whether you use media or not, there’s a system for you.

6. Number of Plant Sites

How many plants should you grow?


A lot of new growers try to grow too many plants.

They mistakenly think “more plants = bigger yield”

Don’t do this.

You’re best off aiming for 1 - 4 plants per square metre.

You can actually get the same yield from 1 big plant as you do 4 smaller plants grown in the same space. 

If you’re only growing a couple of plants, a small system will do the trick. Like a Origin, Oxypots or NFT system).

If you've got a bigger area, you need to do a bit of maths.

Step 1

Work out how much floor space you have

(Multiply your tent's H x W x D)

e.g. a 3m x 3m x 2m tent has 3 x 3 = 9 sq.m of floor space.

Step 2

Work out:

(floor space) x (number of plants you want to grow per sq, m)

e.g. a  9sq.m x 3 plants = 18 pot system

If you have more than 10 plants to manage, do yourself a favour and choose a bigger system that feeds plants from one tank.

7. Pot Size

How big are your plants?

If you’re growing big plants, make sure your pots are big enough!


Try to use around 60L of growing media per 1m -1.2m


So, in a 1.2m tent, you'd need about 60L of growing media.

You can do that with:

1 x  56L RhizoPot (large plant)


2 x 30L RhizoPots (smaller plants)

For hydroponic systems it’s a case of the bigger the better. Bigger pots = more water = slower pH & CF changes.

8. Flexibility

Will you need to move pots or expand?

Ecothrive CocoEcothrive Coco

If you want to expand or change the layout of your system, pick a modular system. 

With these systems, pots are connected individually or in groups.

The easiest systems to expand are AutoPot Systems and RhizoSystem. You just keep adding pots – when you need to, upgrade your tank.

9. Active vs. Passive

Do you want to use a water pump?


Active systems use pumps.

You have more control and will get a bigger yield in an active system (RushNFT, etc)

Passive systems use gravity or are hand fed.

Systems like this (AutoPotRhizoSystem Drain Only) are cheap to run, easy to maintain and silent.

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About the author

Ian's our Sheffield shop manager. He loves tinkering in the greenhouse. Drop by to see what he's growing.

GroWell Hydroponics Sheffield

Call GroWell Sheffield:
0114 243 9242

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