A Guide to Light Deprivation Greenhouse Growing

An improved annual yield, greater sustainability, multiple harvests with yearlong growing, and a lowered production cost… Any one of these advantages would provide a sound reason to make the switch from indoor warehouse grow operations to growing in a greenhouse!

While most strongly associated with the cannabis industry, and hotly trending in states like California that have recently legalized recreational cannabis, greenhouses equipped with light deprivation systems can provide a huge out of season boon for different types of crops that require specific lighting schedules.

What is Light Deprivation?


Light deprivation, also called “light depo” or “light dep,” is an agricultural growing technique that controls how much, and how often plants receive light. Light deprivation greenhouses accomplish this by using blackout material to cover the plants, simulating different seasonal changes. The resulting darkness tricks plants into responding by flowering on command; this allows licensed cannabis growers to reduce the time necessary for plants to reach maturity, and enjoy multiple harvests per year vs. outdoor grows that are entirely limited to a single growing season.

Just as different kinds of plants require different growing conditions, determining the best cannabis plants to grow using light deprivation greenhouses comes down to understanding photoperiodism.


Photoperiodism & Light Deprivation Schedules 


Photoperiodism is the response from plants and animals, by growth or behavior, to photoperiods.

A photoperiod is the interval within a 24-hour day during which plants or animals are exposed to light.

Crops that bloom in the fall are stimulated to do so by the shorter days and longer nights. While you can delve far more in depth to understand the science behind flowering and how plants mature, for the intentions of this article, you have the information to get started.


The Best Plants for Light Deprivation Greenhouses


While certainly open to debate, plants that typically bloom in the fall are known best for light deprivation greenhouse growing. Some of the best plants for this type of growing include:


  • Asters
  • Cannabis
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Cosmos
  • Mums
  • Poinsettias
  • Zinnias


Naturally, many of these plants and their individual species and strains all can only be harvested in the fall. With a greenhouse equipped with a light deprivation system, however, you can harvest all of the summer cosmos, spring poinsettias, and cannabis as you like.


Types of Light Deprivation Setups


Light Deprivation Hoop Houses (Low Cost)


The cheapest light deprivation greenhouses involve regularly covering and uncovering a hoop house with a black tarp.

Rebar, wooden planks, and PVC piping is used in making these type of light dep greenhouses. The rebar anchors the PVC that is used to build the frame over the desired garden space. The wooden planks then are used to stabilize the PVC being connected to the pipes across the length of the structure.

Light is controlled by draping a black tarp over top of hoop house, and manually removing it, at the appropriate hour every day.

While this is the least expensive, it requires the most manual labor, and a single mistake in timing can ruin your crops. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) hoop houses don’t usually last more than a single growing season without needing extensive repairs or at the very least replacing the plastic cover and black tarps frequently – as they will degrade quickly when subjected to prolonged UV exposure. DIY hoop houses are not engineered structures. If you choose to go the cheap route and build a hoop house, be forewarned and understand should the weather change quickly or mother nature decides to conjure a sudden and severe storm, your hoop house will either need to be taken down or will likely end up in pieces.


Entry Level Greenhouses (Mid-Range)


Mid-range greenhouse growing can range from backyard greenhouse kits to full sized commercial greenhouses. The main differentiating factor between this and lower cost DIY hoop houses is the quality of materials.

Stepping into greenhouses for commercial growing, a mid-range greenhouse with light deprivation can be as small as 20’ wide x 20’ long to as large as 30’ wide to 120’ long. Mid-range greenhouses are usually mass produced, and cheaply made over-seas. These are the greenhouse systems you see on big box store shelves. Instructions for mid-range greenhouses are vague at best, resulting in hours or days of frustrating setup.

Like DIY hoop houses, mid-range or entry level greenhouses can be equipped with light deprivation tarps or blackout material that requires manually opening and closing. While some of the ‘better’ entry level greenhouses will have a rating for wind or snow loads, know these are not actually engineered greenhouse structures designed to meet specific wind or snow loads, but rather general recommendations not to use your greenhouse kit in certain conditions. Failure to heed the warnings could result in your greenhouse and entire crop being destroyed during a storm event.


Engineered Greenhouses with Automated Light Deprivation Systems (High-End)



The highest quality light deprivation greenhouses are engineered structures designed to meet specific wind and snow loads, or meet local and international building codes for safety and durability. Manufactures of such systems have invested the time and resources (money) to create commercial greenhouse systems capable of withstanding the harshest weather conditions and for year-round use. Light deprivation systems and other variables such as humidity, temperature control, air exchange, and even oxygen level  for engineered greenhouse buildings are often automated, allowing growers – like licensed cannabis growers to automate and manage growing conditions.

Engineered greenhouse systems are designed to specifically. Whereas DIY hoop houses can be built for less than a hundred dollars (depending on the size and quality of materials), and mid-range greenhouse kits sell in the range of $100 to $500 dollars, engineered greenhouse structures, custom designed to meet the specific needs for cannabis growers can range in the thousands, tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands of dollars for automated and large scale commercial greenhouse facilities. Understanding the differences in quality as well as the cost for cannabis greenhouses is beneficial for first time cannabis growers, as well as seasoned growers considering moving from expensive warehouse space used for indoor growing to growing cannabis in a greenhouse!

While there are many manufacturers that sell greenhouses with automated light deprivation systems, none are as well known in the cannabis industry as the GrowPort™ series of greenhouses for growing cannabis from WeatherPort Shelter Systems™. GrowPort™ greenhouses offer licensed cannabis growers ease of use, durability, and are engineered to meet area specific wind and snow loads.  from WeatherPort™ rely on 50 years of proven excellence, utilizing cutting edge manufacturing techniques, the latest engineering principles, and highest quality materials to create an unrivaled cannabis greenhouse solution. All their greenhouse solutions are custom designed, engineered, and manufactured in the United States, by hard-working Americans.

Choose from a wide range of greenhouse options including: automated strip vents which provide natural ventilation, metal framing systems designed specifically for hanging grow lights and powerful horizontal air flow (HAF) fans, wet walls, blackout intake and exhaust fans, automated light deprivation system, humidity and temperature control systems, as well as mobile device access. Gone are the days of having to physically be in the greenhouse to control and operate all the growing systems.

Discuss your cannabis greenhouse needs with a friendly WeatherPort specialist by calling (970) 399-5909 today! Or if you are in the Delta, Colorado area, stop by for a tour of our fully automated greenhouse system.



  1. Richard-Reply
    August 15, 2019 at 1:57 am

    Looking for 30’x70′ cannabis greenhouse with equipment for full automation.

    • August 20, 2019 at 10:19 pm

      Hello Richard! I see you also submitted an online request using our contact page for more information about our fully automated greenhouse system. A WeatherPort specialist will be in contact with you to discuss your greenhouse structure needs so we can custom-design a greenhouse to meet the wind and snow loads for your area.

  2. Michael B.-Reply
    November 29, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    Looking to build a 30′ x 60′ automated greenhouse with light dep.

    • December 26, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      Hello Michael! If you are a licensed cannabis grower, we would love to discuss how an automated greenhouse with light deprivation from WeatherPort can support your cannabis growing operation. Please send us an inquiry by using our contact page or sending an email to info@weatherport.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

  3. Mark-Reply
    January 23, 2020 at 8:20 am

    Looking for the best bang for the buck! I’m looking for the biggest greenhouse structure possible and what would be the cost ? I live in Nevada so I’m not worried too much about the weather just want something that will last a long time and be easy to operate as far as covering the greenhouse. I’m not looking for a lot of bells and whistles, just want the easiest way to control the amount of sun and set a time schedule to control the time frame for light deprivation.

    • January 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm

      Hello Mark! I see you submitted a request for more information about our light deprivation greenhouse structures. A WeatherPort greenhouse specialists will contact you shortly to design a cannabis greenhouse that meets your exact growing needs. All of our structures are engineered to meet local building codes for safety and we produce our greenhouses here in the United States with the highest quality materials to ensure long-lasting durability.

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