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What is a Vertical Cannabis Grow?

Scynce Led Light Grow Kush Multi Level

Any cannabis grower knows how expensive ongoing cultivation costs can be. With hefty real estate costs, huge energy bills, and a lot of sweat equity, you need to maximize profits to make your cannabis farm a worthwhile venture.

The classic approach to growing is known as horizontal marijuana growing, whereby plants are grown side by side underneath old-fashioned sodium lights. But the industry has moved on, and indoor growers are now looking to maximize every square foot with vertical cannabis grow systems.

Vertical growing, when done correctly, can increase your profits and maximize efficiency. In many ways, it’s a game-changer. Scynce LED lights are designed to help you perfect your vertical marijuana grow while creating an overall higher quality of cannabis.

What is Vertical Growing?

Vertical grow systems can more than double the amount of available cultivation space. Multiple square or hexagonal shelves are stacked on top of each other around a central light source. To protect the plants, the central lighting system must be relatively cool, which is why LED lights are such a popular lighting option among cannabis growers.

When you grow vertically, you can generate bigger and better yields. Whether stacked on shelves or arranged using trellises and strings, growers can use these systems to grow more plants.

It’s important to understand the two main types of vertical cannabis farming before determining the right system for your operation.

Stacked Vertical

The stacked vertical cannabis farming method involves stacking hexagonal or square shelves on top of each other around a central light source. This 360-degree setup enables growers to use any space between the floor and the roof, which is impossible when using traditional horizontal grow systems.

Commercial growers using a vertical rack system can also deliver nutrients and water more rapidly.

For the grower using a stacked vertical system, plants must remain short and full of buds. Hydroponics and soil-based vertical grow systems are typically the most popular.

True Vertical

In contrast, the true vertical cannabis grow method is an advancement on the stacked vertical model. At its heart, stacked vertical growing cannabis is nothing more than two or three horizontal farms built on top of each other.

True vertical growing cannabis cultivates plants to the side of the column; nutrients and water are drip-fed to the plants from the top.

True vertical growing allows farmers to further increase their yields and maximize space. A popular way of managing a growing vertical system is to utilize the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) together with aeroponics.

Pros and Cons of Vertical Cannabis Growing

Like any growth system, a vertical grow comes with its fair share of pros and cons. Here’s a brief rundown of the pros and cons of implementing this system as part of your indoor cannabis farm.


  • Efficiency – Grow more cannabis using less space. When you grow vertically, you can improve your efficiency by reducing energy consumption. With advanced Scynce LED lights, energy consumption drops by more than 50% under the vertical grow method.
  • Additional Crop Cycle – Vertical marijuana systems often provide an additional annual crop cycle when keeping the vegetative state short. By reducing the total duration of the growing cycle, farmers often choose a lower per plant yield in exchange for an additional crop cycle.
  • Easy Installation – Vertical marijuana systems are relatively easy to install due to the abundance of pre-built systems already on the market. Be aware of your state’s cultivation limits as vertical cannabis growing drastically improves overall yield.


  • Bigger Startup Costs – While the vertical marijuana grow model is more cost-effective in the long term, purchasing quality equipment does increase startup costs beyond those associated with horizontal grow systems. Advanced climate control systems, sensors, racks, and ladders are required to get started in most cases.
  • Safety – Vertical marijuana cultivation is more labor-intensive as technicians must carefully monitor and control plant height. This can involve climbing ladders and custom scaffolds.
  • Climate Control – Environmental condition issues are a huge part of marijuana cultivation. From temperature to air circulation, technicians spend much of their time ensuring the growing space remains within certain ranges. Due to the additional use of vertical space, advanced climate control systems are required to preserve marijuana plant quality across every cubic foot.

How to Start Vertical Growing

Vertical marijuana cultivation systems are designed specifically for commercial growers. If you’re growing for personal use, there’s little reason for you to invest in anything more than the classic horizontal grow system. If you’re hoping to move away from traditional methods, let’s discuss how to start a vertical cannabis grow.

Step One – Purchase an LED Lighting System

Always invest in LED lighting systems to support your marijuana cultivation. While more expensive than HPS lighting, LED lighting burns cooler, and there’s a much lower risk of light burns.

Furthermore, LED lights have narrower physical dimensions than other lighting types while also offering the best light spectrum options. Purchasing Scynce LED lights enable you to control lighting spectrums to provide your plants with their lighting needs as they reach different growth stages.

Step Two – Begin with a Two-Tier Stack

Two-tier stacks enable commercial growers to meet local code regulations. It also prevents the need for a scaffold or a scissor lift to access higher tiers. Two-tier stacks are an easy way to perfect your system before expanding your capacity.

Step Three – Choose the Right Strain

Choose Indica strains or Indica-dominant hybrid strains when you grow vertically. Sativas tend to grow taller, which can create spatial issues as they advance through the different growth stages.

Step Four – Set Up Your Grow Room Before Planting

Don’t be that farmer who fails to plan a safe grow room layout after planting. Take the time to install sensors and other climate control features before, as this can prevent problems later.

Pay special attention to airflow. We recommend the hoop-house method used in greenhouses. This pushes air into the open areas of the racks and pulls it out through the other end.

Step Five – Manage the Plumbing

Finally, keeping reservoirs clean of salt, algae, and other buildups is vital for avoiding plant damage. Install flexible tubing to facilitate the replacement of plumbing every few crop cycles.

Pay special attention to wastewater. Floor drains are a cheap and easy option to dispose of nutrient water. If your locality requires it, you may be required to invest in pumps and holding tanks.

Once you’ve followed these five steps, you can begin executing your first vertical crop cycle.

Tips for Perfecting Your Vertical Grow Systems

It takes time and experience to pull off a vertical marijuana grow successfully. Start with a smaller system and simple Indica strains before incorporating new strains and more tiers.

The most successful strains are those with few leaves and big buds. Work on your defoliation skills, and the diversity of strains you can grow increases. Most strains can grow vertically, but only experienced farmers should attempt Sativas under a vertical model.

To better control the environment, use more than a single temperature sensor. We recommend utilizing STEM cultivation to collect data on temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, lighting levels, system air circulation rates, and more. Use one temperature sensor per 100 cubic feet.

Finally, take the time to learn about your municipality’s code regulations on the disposal of nutrient water, OSHA safety regulations, and cultivation limits. Breaking these laws could destroy your cannabis cultivation operation.


The key to any successful vertical cannabis grow is a cutting-edge LED lighting system that supports your goals. Create better yields, improve the quality of your harvests, and make your operation more efficient with Scynce LED greenhouse lighting systems.

With state-of-the-art lighting controls, establish the foundation of your vertical grow with our innovative cultivation solutions.

To find out more about how we can help you maximize the potential of your growing operation, contact Scynce LED today.


  1. First, thanks for all the information. It was very helpful. How high would you say the ceiling definitely need to be for a 3 tier vertical grow?

    1. That is a hard one to answer because at the end of the day it depends on how big you want your plants to be and how you train them. Assuming at least a 4 foot tall plant with, another 6-12″ for the space to a Raging Kush plus another 6 inches in racking/trays and other structural items, it would require 5-6 feet per level. So, for a racked flower room, probably 20 foot ceilings and for veg since the plants are smaller 15 foot min. Of course that all changes if you don’t have a Raging Kush and need more space between the light and the top of the canopy.

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