4 Best Hydroponic Grow Tray Reviews

Many growers often skimp out when it comes to grow trays, going for something cheap and flimsy rather than high quality.

However, they soon find that these bargain trays quickly crack and snap, leaving them back at square one.

This guide will take you through everything you need to know when it comes to looking for the best hydroponic grow tray for your setup.

Top Pick: Bootstrap Farmer 1020 Trays

Sale
Bootstrap Farmer 1020 Trays - Extra Strength No Holes, 5...
772 Reviews
Bootstrap Farmer 1020 Trays - Extra Strength No Holes, 5...
  • Ultra-Durable, Top-Quality BPA Free Plastic Trays No Holes....
  • Perfect match to our other heavy duty trays and humidity...
  • 2 Year Warranty guaranteed not to break so you can focus on...

Bootstrap Farmer is a brand with a reputation for quality, and the Bootstrap Farmer 1020 Tray is proof of that. This is one of the most popular grow trays among both small-scale and commercial growers.

Unlike most of the other grow trays out there, this one can hold heavy weights without bending, and the accompanying humidity domes are a nice touch.

What also sets this grow tray apart is its 2 year warranty – something that’s rarely offered by grow tray manufacturers.

Hydroponic Grow Tray Buying Guide

Best Hydroponic Grow Tray Reviews

Types of Hydroponic Grow Trays

There are 2 main types of hydroponic grow trays available:

  • Single trays – these are relatively flat trays, without any individual compartments. Some have drainage holes and some don’t. They can be adapted to work with all hydroponic setups, but are especially beneficial for ebb and flow systems.
  • Multi-cell trays – these trays feature multiple cells, each designed to hold one plant. Again, these can work with all systems, but are heavily favored in drip systems, enabling you to adjust how much feed and water each individual plant receives.

Size

The bigger your grow tray, the more plants it will hold, but you need to also take how much space you have into consideration when choosing a grow tray size.

Measure your growing area and check this against the dimensions of the grow trays you’re browsing, so that you can ensure that the grow trays won’t get in the way.

If you’re using a grow tent, then measure the internal dimensions and compare this with available trays. Many growers end up with trays too large for their tent, which then means more money needs to be spent on a larger tent.

The depth of a grow tray is also important, as deeper grow trays enable you to grow larger plants that are heavier feeders.

However, while you may want a deep grow tray to produce strong and healthy tomato plants, don’t forget that the hydroponic system you’re using will influence the type of plants you’re able to grow – many are only suitable for shallow-rooted plants, such as lettuces.

Your hydroponic setup will also determine how large your grow tray should be. If you’ve gone for something extremely basic that can only support a couple of plants, then you don’t need a large grow tray.

If you don’t have much space but have a hydroponic system capable of supporting a large number of plants, then look for grow trays that are small but stackable. These are ideal for those with hydroponic systems that enable them to grow vertically.

Best Hydroponic Grow Tray Reviews

Material/Durability

Most grow trays are made from plastic, but the type of plastic used will affect how durable the trays are.

Thin plastics won’t last for very long. The weight of water and plants will soon cause them to bend in the middle and crack, making it unlikely that you will be able to reuse these for your next lot of crops.

However, thicker and more durable plastics will last you for several seasons. They may initially cost more, but they usually save you money in the long run, since you won’t need to keep buying new trays.

Will You Be Growing Edibles?

If you’re planning on growing edible plants, then this limits your choice when it comes to the grow trays you can use.

Some trays, such as those made from polystyrene or PVC, are toxic when used in a food system. They contaminate the water with chemicals that are then absorbed by plants, with those carcinogenic plants then ending up on someone’s plate.

To keep your edibles safe, make sure that you only use food-grade grow trays, ideally made from BPA-free plastics.

If you’re only growing ornamentals, this won’t matter as much.

Best Hydroponic Grow Tray Reviews

Drainage Holes

If the grow tray that you’re shopping for is going to be used as a base tray, or if you are growing using the nutrient film technique system, then you will want a grow tray that doesn’t have any drainage holes.

However, if you’re going to be placing your growing medium directly into the tray itself, or are going with an ebb and flow hydroponic system, then a tray with drainage holes would definitely be useful.

Drain Channels

You will notice that many hydroponic grow trays have grooves running along their base – these are drain channels. They allow excess water to flow away from plants, before being used up later on.

This not only prevents your plants from suffocating due to any excess water, but will also mean that you’re using less water and nutrients overall. This won’t matter as much for some hydroponic systems, such as drip systems, but it makes a huge difference to others, such as ebb and flow setups.

Best Hydroponic Grow Tray Reviews

Does it Have a Compatible Humidity Dome?

If you are germinating seeds using a hydroponics system, then you’ll understand just how important humidity is.

Even if you don’t plan on sprouting seeds, it’s still always good to have that option, which is why you should make sure that there are compatible humidity domes for the grow tray you’re considering.

Some will come with their own humidity dome, but others won’t. If the grow tray you’re considering doesn’t have a humidity dome made by the same brand, then make sure that domes are readily available elsewhere, to fit the size of your grow tray, before you make your purchase.

Is it Stackable?

While many grow trays look to be a standard shape and size, some manufacturers adapt their products in almost unnoticeable ways. This then means that you wouldn’t be able to use those grow trays with grow trays from another brand.

This will only really make a difference to those who intend on stacking their grow trays. If you already have trays and you’re looking to increase your stack, make sure that the ones you purchase are compatible with the trays you already have.

Best Hydroponic Grow Tray Reviews

Environmental Impact

There are a couple of ways in which you can keep your environmental impact to a minimum when using plastic grow trays.

Some plastics are more environmentally-friendly to produce than others, making these the better option for those who are eco-conscious.

You should also keep durability in mind again – being able to reuse your grow tray several times will save more grow trays from ending up in landfills. Once you do need to dispose of your grow tray, being able to recycle them will cut back on your environmental impact even more.

Manufacturer’s Guarantee

Some of the trays out there will come with a manufacturer’s guarantee. This means that if you ever happen to encounter a problem with your new grow tray, in terms of cracking or breaking in any way, the manufacturer will replace it for you free of charge.

A manufacturer’s guarantee not only gives you the peace of mind that you’re spending your money in the right place, but it also shows that the manufacturers themselves have the utmost confidence in the quality of their product.

Let’s see how to make a tray stand:

Best Hydroponic Grow Tray Reviews

Bootstrap Farmer 1020 Trays

Sale
Bootstrap Farmer 1020 Trays - Extra Strength No Holes, 5...
772 Reviews
Bootstrap Farmer 1020 Trays - Extra Strength No Holes, 5...
  • Ultra-Durable, Top-Quality BPA Free Plastic Trays No Holes....
  • Perfect match to our other heavy duty trays and humidity...
  • 2 Year Warranty guaranteed not to break so you can focus on...

Features:

  • Choose whether you need accompanying humidity domes
  • Made from high quality, BPA-free plastic
  • Dimensions: 21” x 10.75” x 2.5”
  • Has drain channels
  • No drainage holes
  • Comes with a 2 year warranty

What We Like:

These are some of the best quality hydroponic grow trays out there – both trays and domes are made from durable plastic that will last you for several years.

They are strong enough to not even slightly flex when carried while full of water and plants, which is a huge bonus to indoor growers. Their 1020 measurements are spot on too, meaning that these trays can be easily stacked and used in a variety of systems.

What Could Be Improved?

Some may find the cost of these grow trays quite high, especially when compared to some of the others on the market. However, you really are paying for quality, as you will be able to reuse these trays time and time again.

Seed Sprouter Tray

Seed Sprouter Tray Seed Germination Tray BPA Free Nursery...
93 Reviews
Seed Sprouter Tray Seed Germination Tray BPA Free Nursery...
  • -Healthy & Eco-friendly Material: Made of solid food grade...
  • -Concave-convex Design: Convenient to take out inner mesh...
  • -Wide Use: This seedling tray can sprout multiple types of...

Features:

  • Made from non-toxic, food-grade, BPA-free plastic
  • Pack of 10
  • Designed for those seeking a tray specifically for germination and sprouting seeds
  • Comes with a removable inner mesh that increases breathability, and therefore germination
  • Comes with planting papers, perfect for starting seeds
  • Dimensions: 12.6” x 9.8” x 1.8”

What We Like:

Lightweight but sturdy, these seed sprouting trays really improve germination, especially if you use the handy mesh tray provided with it.

The fact that this product comes with everything you need to get started with hydroponic growing, including ten sheets of planting paper, makes it a great one for beginners.

What Could Be Improved?

Some seeds need darkness in order to germinate, but the green plastic that this tray is made from is semi-transparent, which mean some light ends up getting through. However, this usually isn’t enough to cause a problem, and the plastic can always be covered over with an old towel.

The lack of a humidity dome is another issue, especially since this product is designed for starting seeds. Compatible domes aren’t easily available elsewhere either.

1020 Net Pot Tray 5 Pack for Aquaponics and Hydroponics

1020 Net Pot Tray 5 Pack for Aquaponics and Hydroponics
39 Reviews
1020 Net Pot Tray 5 Pack for Aquaponics and Hydroponics
  • Ultra-Durable, High-Quality BPA Free Plastic Net pot trays....
  • Fits 32 2" net pot trays per 1020 cover
  • One Year Warranty

Features:

  • Made from durable, food-grade, BPA-free plastic
  • Pack of 5
  • Compatible with 1020 covers
  • Holds 32 2” net pots
  • Dimensions: 21.25” x 11.25” x 2.5” (depth refers to the length of the spikes underneath the tray)

What We Like:

If your hydroponic system makes use of net pots, then you will find these trays extremely useful. They are strong and sturdy, and don’t flex when fully loaded.

Their size is perfect for shallow-rooted plants, and the concept is adaptable to a variety of different hydroponic systems – you can either use this tray with a base tray, or place it directly over a nutrient reservoir container.

What Could Be Improved?

Although the official product listings state that the holes hold 2” pots, they are actually slightly larger. This means that only wide mouth pots are suitable to be used with this tray.

Although smaller pots can still work if you don’t plan on moving things around too much, they don’t have the same sense of stability.

However, some may find the size of the holes, as well as the length of the spikes, too small, with no options available for larger pots or longer spikes.

Grodan RW205002 GRO-Smart Tray Insert

Grodan RW205002 GRO-Smart Tray Insert, Brown
320 Reviews
Grodan RW205002 GRO-Smart Tray Insert, Brown
  • Your Grodan Starter plugs, Mini-Blocks and Gro-Blocks have...
  • This durable Dutch tray has double-sided features. Use the...
  • Use the mesh side for sheets of A-OK's, Mini-Blocks, or...

Features:

  • A double sided tray with 78 small cells on one side and larger cells on the other
  • Made from durable hard plastic
  • A chic terracotta color that blends in well with home decor
  • Fits in standard 1020 base trays, while still remaining slightly elevated

What We Like:

Although technically an insert, this product can be used as a standalone tray too. In fact, it can be used in so many ways, whether you want to fill each of the 78 cells on one side with rockwool plugs or would prefer to turn it over and make use of the larger growing area.

The plastic it’s made from is not only durable, but holds moisture and humidity well. It is also not at all transparent, making this tray ideal for rooting cuttings and starting seeds.

What Could Be Improved?

The main downside to this product is that the drainage holes at the bottom of each cell are quite large.

This isn’t a problem for people using rockwool cubes, but if you’d like to use pebbles as your growing medium, you’ll find that the smaller ones end up falling through the holes.

Conclusion

It can take a while to find the best hydroponic grow tray for the specific system you have, but it really is worth investing in quality the first time around.

This will ensure that your trays will last for several seasons, saving you so much money in the long run.

Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Jill Sandy

Jill Sandy

Jill is a sustainable focus gardener. She loves decorating her home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques she develops herself. You can reach her at jill.sandy@constantdelights.com

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh is our Head of Medical Review. He is a research physician at Oxford University Clinical Research Unit. After accomplishing the program of level 1 sub-specialty in Pediatrics, he was awarded the Chevening Scholarship for his Master’s degree of Public Health in the University of Edinburgh in 2019

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