This is a diagram of a wick hydroponic system

What Is Wick Hydroponics?

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The wick hydroponics are the most simplistic hydroponic systems there are. It can be a completely passive system so there is no need for pumps or electricity. Since there are no moving parts, there is no need to worry about any system failures or parts breaking. As long as your keep your reservoir full of nutrient solution your plants ready to grow. The picture below shows the workings of a simple wick hydroponic system. I’ve taken a 2 liter bottle and cut it in half, turning the top upside down. I placed a little water in the bottle and added a wick used for tiki torches. All that’s left is adding the grow medium and seeding and some nutrients.

wick hydroponic system
A basic wick system ready to add grow medium, a plant, and nutrient solution.

What Plants Work Well Using Wick Hydroponics

Wick hydroponics works well for plants that don’t take much water to survive. Wick hydroponics works great for those that often have trouble remembering to water their house plants. Smaller plants such as herbs and lettuce work great with these types of systems. Larger plants have a larger root system and need more water. The wick does not bring enough water up quick enough to sustain larger plants or fruiting plants. Wick hydroponics is not the method to use if you’re looking to grow tomato plants on the back porch.

How Do Wick Systems Work?

As you can tell by the name, wick hydroponics, the most important part is wick. You need to use a wick that is absorbent enough to get water to your plant’s roots, and at the same will not rot or mildew. I have used tiki torch wicks but you can also use nylon rope, felt strips, or braided fiber in wick hydroponic system. Whatever you use for your wick material, make sure to wash it out first and it will wick more effectively. The number of wicks you use depends on the wicks you’re using and how much water your plant needs. Unless you’re growing a small single plant you will most likely need multiple wicks. The shorter your wick length can be on your hydroponic wick system the better. Smaller wicks move your nutrient solution more quickly to your plants.

Wick Hydroponic System

What Type of Grow Medium Is Used In Wick Hydroponics?

A variety of grow medium can be used with wick hydroponics. Perlite, Vermiculite, and Coconut Fiber are some the most popular grow mediums used as well as hydroton expanded clay. You want a grow medium that is absorbent so to get the nutrient solution to as much of the roots as possible. Both the grow medium and your reservoir should never run dry. You will also need to rinse both your grow medium and the reservoir of your hydroponic system periodically to wash out excess nutrient mineral and algae build up.

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