For the sake of this discussion, indoor vertical grow systems can be defined as:
Grow setups in which one or more bulbs is hung vertically, with no reflector. In all but Stadium style Verticals, the plants are arrayed around the bulb/s, in a 360 degree wall of green, which then grows inward towards the bulb/s. This eliminates the use of costly reflectors. Stadium style grows make excellent use of vertical space in the same way bleachers do in a stadium, instead of a 360 wall of green. The lights are hung vertically along the center aisle, while the plants sit on the “bleachers”. The nature of these setups creates far more square footage of canopy when compared to a traditional flat setup with the same footprint. Vertical setups, while initially intimidating, are compatible with most any style of growing, from organic, to soil/soilless, and hydroponics of all flavors. Vertical setups have been proven to work on both small and large scales. Whether you Do It Yourself, or buy a commercial unit, once set up properly, they really perform!
Indoor vertical grow systems generally fall into 4 categories. These are Vertical SOG, Vertical SCROG, Stadium/Coliseum Style Grows, and Tree/Bush Grows.
Sure to be a favorite with commercial growers, and those determined to get the highest gram per watt ratio with the least effort, Vertical Sea of Green(V-SOG) setups are real performers! A V-SOG setup applies the same principles of flat SOG gardening, simply with a 360 degree wall of small plants. Clones are placed in the setup in rows, as many rows high as will fit into the system. Well rooted clones may go immediately into flower, or veg a few days to a week before being switched to 12/12, depending on how much a strain may stretch.
V-SOGs of any decent size require clones, and lots of them. Alternately, they can be used to grow out lots of seed in a small space, for instance for breeding purposes(searching for traits, etc). Those using clones will need several mothers or one bushy tree of a mama, to provide the extreme number of clones required to fill a V-SOG. One nice aspect of this is how easy it is to flower out several strains at once, since so many clones are required. Variety is easy to provide with a V-SOG. However those looking for absolute highest gram per watt should stick to single strain runs, and use clones that are as consistent as possible. So long as you can provide the space for mothers and lots of clones, you can turn around a V-SOG in a very short amount of time and be flowering your next crop in a matter of days.
Most of the commercially available vertical setups I've seen have been of the V-SOG variety, and mostly hydroponic. I'll include links at the end of the article(so you finish reading it before getting lost).
Pictured is an EcoSystem to give you the idea.
The most common vertical method for micro and personal growers, Vertical Screen of Green(V-SCROG) takes the principles of scrogging vertical. As with flat scrogging, V-SCROG uses a screen to train buds. The grower constructs a tube of hardware cloth, or any chicken wire like material with appropriately sized holes, and places the bulb in the middle of the tube. One or more plants are placed on the ground. The plants are trained around the screen until it has been filled, using the same techniques as traditional scrogging. When flowered, the colas all grow inward to the bulb like an inside out porcupine. That is a very basic description of V-SCROGs. Since they are all DIY, there are as many variations on the same basic theme as one can imagine. A popular variation is to fit the whole works, including ventilation, into a barrel. This is sometimes called V-Tub, Barrel of green, etc. They come in every flavor including soil, hydro, single plant, multi plant, etc.
One grower has created a larger scale V-SCROG setup by attatching larger vertical screens to individual pots. He then arrayed them in a circular formation around his bulbs to create a large size V-SCROG. There is some real potential here to have some serious harvests off of minimum watts and just a few plants.
Pictured here is bf7's V-SCROG tub for reference.
Stadium Style Grows
Stadium, and Coliseum Style grows were probably the first step towards 360 degree vertical gardens. They deserve a place here as well.
This type of setup consists of rows of steps descending towards each other along the walls of your grow space. For the soil/soiless grower, this can mean something as simple as a series of wooden benches. While for a hydro grower, it can mean systems as complex as the cool PVC model pictured below(though a hydro setup could also be quite simple).
The Lights are hung vertically, in a line down the center aisle of the room. They are hung at a height that will place them in the middle of the height of the overall stadium canopy.
A stadium style grow won't gain you as much square footage as a circular setup will, nevertheless you should get 40% more square footage(I figured that might be about average, you could gain more or less depending how you set yours up), with a lot less work, and likely it will be easier to maintain. This is a really simple way to get more out of a flat garden, without completely rebuilding your room.
SensiSamurai posted an incredible stadium grow up, with excellent pictures which very clearly illustrate the concept:
SensiSamurai's Badass Stadium Grow
Tree/Bush Style Vertical Grows
After much consideration, and without consulting anyone else’s opinion, I have decided Tree and Bush Grows utilizing vertical lighting deserve a place here. Modern indoor tree/bush grows are gaining a lot of popularity. With more states going medical, but restricting plant numbers severely, it’s easy to see why. If they limit your plant numbers, you grow huge plants!
To keep things simple I have broken this down into 2 sections. Trees and bushes(shrubberies if you prefer). Both are grown to a very large size using vertical bulbs. The difference is in the plant size, and in the way the bulbs are implemented in the floor plan. With the huge trees, you surround the plant with bulbs. However when growing smaller(but still quite large by indoor grow standards) bushes, the plants are arrayed around the bulb/s in a circle, to suck up every bit of direct light possible. Both methods have merit, and have proved highly successful. Large harvests with very little popcorn bud are the norm with a properly dialed tree/bush grows. Ok read on for a little bit more detailed info, and some links to examples here on IC.
Using vertically hung bulbs arrayed around individual trees in a checkerboard pattern, this style of growing allows plants to use every bit of light your bulbs produce, in much the same way as the other systems described in this thread. It’s simply one plant instead of 100. This means your plants will require a longer veg time to reach flowering size, and they will need a system capable of handling a very large root mass for each plant, since that is what will create a giant tree harvest of dense nuggets. This is an up down view of such a garden, with the X’s being the Lights and the O’s being the Plants:
Four plant tree garden(5 bulbs):
12 plant tree garden(13 bulbs):
With this type of tree growing you can lower electrical use, by putting the lights on a flip flop and only running half of them at once, switching to the other half of the bulbs midway through the day.
Here is Heath Robinson's thread about his tree grows, and how he does them. This is an incredible read, not just for those who intend to grow trees. Jump to page 8 if you wish to see his breakdown of how he does it:
Heath's Tree Grows
Bring us, a Shrubbery!
Another valid implementation of vertically grown plants is to array your buckets flat on the ground in a circle, and simply hang a bare vertical bulb down in the center(or two bulbs). This requires large bushes to make the best use of the light, but can be very rewarding in terms of grams/watt, if not so visually impressive as the giant trees you can grow with the above method. This is another method that should be attractive to medical growers who have to work with limited numbers.
Although out of the price range of many growers, these commercial units show some real innovation, and have lots of ideas worth borrowing for your own setup. Some of them, like the EcoSystem, are basically turnkey, so once you get it, you just have to fill the reservoir with a nutrient solution and plug in your clones. Then it's off to the races!
I can't seem to find a manufacturer's site for this one, but it's been a round a long time, and many European hydro retailers carry it, as well as some west coast US shops.
The Pi rack is similar to Heath's most recent vertical system, but free standing circular rack units constructed of alloy. However it seems to have disappeared from the marketplace, and was rumored to be plagued with design problems. :
These guys have stackable cooltubes specifically designed for vertical setups. They also carry octagonal and square shaped PVC based verts that seem quite nice. Here is their vertical PVC garden that fits into a 4x4 grow tent, very cool small setup:
The RotoGro is a 360 SOG but instead of vertical it is horizontal. It is the first system of this type that I ever laid eyes on, and it has been intriguing me ever since:
The Omega garden is like the Rotogro in that it is horizontally oriented: