Basic Hydroponic system - Wick System (2/6)

Date Posted:31 May 2017 


Basic Wick Systems Introduction

Pro & Con

Here we're going to cover the basics of wick systems which are designed for simple hydroponic growing. As a passive method, they do not have moving parts, making it easier to understand and maintain than other active systems. Wick systems are the simplest method of growing hydroponically, and are therefore, an excellent option for beginners. However, there are downsides to using wick systems. They are much less efficient than other systems, and cannot be used for larger plants, or plants that consume copious amounts of water. This system is best for herbs like rosemary, which is small, grows quickly, and does not require much water, or lettuce, which grows very quickly and does not require that many nutrients. This is not the right system for plants like tomatoes, which require more water and nutrients than a wick system could reliably produce.


How the Wick System Works

The hydroponic wick system for soilless growing is referred to as a passive system. This means that it doesn't require any pumps or moving and mechanical parts. Instead, the nutrients move up the wick or string from a solution reservoir and into the plant’s root systems through capillary movement.
In the wick system, the plant sits very near to the reservoir to minimize the travel distance of the nutrients up the wick. Because the wick doesn't deliver a strong stream of nutrient solution, this makes the wick system better for plants that are both smaller and require less watering. This is why herbs and lettuce are a good choice of plant for this hydroponic gardening method. These types of plants also require lighter amounts of nutrients and so the hydroponic wick system's lower capacity is fine for these plants.

Wick systems work by drawing the nutrients from the reservoir into the plant's roots using a wick. In this system, the plant is placed near to the reservoir in order to minimize the distance the nutrients must travel. The wick material used must be absorbent enough to ensure that the plants get the nutrients they need.


How to Build a Hydroponic Wick System 

In a hydroponic wick system you will need:

  • A container or support system to hold the plant in place
  • A reservoir container to house the nutrient solution
  • A grow medium that's conducive to "wicking" such as coco coir or perlite
  • A wick material like a rope, string or strip of felt

Because hydroponic wick systems are very basic in their design and function, it's important to maintain them manually.

Here are some tips to follow to reduce the chance of damaging plant growth:

  • Set up multiple wicks to provide plants with a greater amount of water and nutrients
  • Keep the water level high in the reservoir so it doesn't need to travel as far
  • Rinse your growing media regularly to avoid nutrient build up which can be toxic to plants
  • If needed, try adding an air stone to aerate water to provide more oxygen to your plants

Comments (1)


2 September 2017
What about AutoPots? Are they a form of wicking system? Are they better for the home gardener (without a green thumb) than the other systems like NFT? And do they work well and grow just as quickly for a variety of vegetables for the home gardener?

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