Low-Technology Hydroponics Wick System for Beginners 2018

Discover hydroponics wick system that does not require electricity, pump, or any moving parts. Therefore, it can be used virtually anytime and anywhere.

Click to Tweet

Hydroponics has become increasingly popular in the gardening industry. One of its methods is Hydroponics wick system which is easy to create, making it suitable for people who want to start learning about the fundamental principles of this gardening system. Because there are no mechanisms involved, it will be easier for beginners to comprehend how this system works. However, there are some limitations because wicking hydroponics system does not work with plants that consume much water like large plants and tomatoes.

A diagram of the setup of wick method

A diagram of the setup of wick method. Source: hannainst.com

Wicking system for watering plants is possible with lettuce or herbs like rosemary since they do not need much water in order to thrive. To build a wick hydroponic system is fairly simple and easy. You can have your own DIY hydroponics wick system in no time. Here are the hydroponic wick system materials that you need:

  • Grow tray (container or bucket)
  • Reservoir (container or bucket)
  • Wicking growing medium (Vermiculite, Perlite, and soilless mixes)
  • Wicks (or strips of felt)
  • Air pump (optional)

Grow Tray

Net pots are not needed to put the growing material. The grow tray is one of the water wicking materials that sets this method apart. The growing medium fills the tray and seeds are then transferred to it. You can try planting buttercrunch lettuce in this tray.

A diagram of the setup of wick method

A diagram of the setup of wick method.


The reservoir is the same with other containers used. If it is not light proof, make sure it is black in color. Penetration of light can cause algae to build up. It should also be large and filled up with fertilized water. You can have fertilized water by buying a box granular plant food and following the instructions as to how much water should be mixed. This container is placed below the grow tray since it will be the one to provide water and nutrients to the plants. Changing the water every week is necessary so that your plants get the right amount of nourishment and avoid nutrient salt from accumulating. If left for a long time, it might be noxious for your plants.

Wicking Growing Medium

The best type of growing medium for your homemade wick system is the kind that does not drain fast and uses its capillary action productively. Vermiculite, Perlite, and soilless mixes are the hydroponic mediums you ought to utilize.


Gardeners benefit from it since it can increase water and nutrient absorption and aerate the soil. Therefore, it produces healthy plants. You can find it in potting soils or in four various sizes for gardening.

Vermiculite. Via: GardeningKnowHow.com


Having the same functions as vermiculite, it is also good for hydroponics wick system. Some gardeners mistake it for light material such as Styrofoam. It also improves drainage because it has natural filtration. Though it drains excess water, it can still retain moisture.

An actual image of perlite which is an effective hydroponic medium

An actual image of perlite which is an effective hydroponic medium. Source: university.upstartfarmers.com

Soilless Mixes

Soilless mixes differs from the 2 growing mediums described because you have control over your choice of amount of drainage and retention of water and air. You can basically personalize this material depending on your plant. Moreover, it is disease- and contaminates-free.

Soilless Mixes. Via: www.wisegeek.com


The wicks connect the grow tray and reservoir, so plants get their needed nutrition. The wick’s capillary action makes this possible. Using a cotton rope is an easy wick to use, but it is weak to molding and rotting. You need to check it from time to time if you want to utilize this system for a long time. You can use a nylon rope instead. The wicks are directly connected to the grow tray through small holes. Another suggestion is to make the holes a little smaller to prevent the growing material from going through the holes. There are different factors like the kind of plants and growing medium used to determine the number of wicks needed. To simplify, use one wick for each plant.

Air Pump (Optional)

One of the top air pumps for hydroponics available in the market

One of the top air pumps for hydroponics available in the market.

Although it is not necessary, an aeration system like an air pump can be advantageous. The bubbles formed helps with the circulation of water. With the water going around, nutrients move as well which results in equal distribution across the system. There is a possibility that nutrients will accumulate at the bottom if the water is static. You can seek help from your local hydroponics store to know the suitable pump for you.

4 Reasons Why Hydroponics Wick System Is Good For Gardeners



Because this system does not need much time for maintenance, many gardeners opt for it. The wicks do the job of watering the plants; hence, it means more time for them to do other things.


Fool Proof

Having no hard-to-find materials to be bought and steps to be followed, it is easy for gardening enthusiasts to set up this system. They do not need to worry about their plants wilting because there is no need to manually water the plants. In addition, there is very little chance of failure because there are no moving parts.


No Overwatering Or Over Fertilization

Overwatering or over fertilization of plants is unlikely to happen with wicking hydroponics system due to the wicks. The water is transported at a constant speed. Thus, the plants are well-nourished.



Gardeners do not need to seek professional help or advice for this system. A bottle cut in half can be used in building a wick hydroponic system. You can imagine how simple and basic that is even for first-time gardeners. They can also grow them in a closed environment as long as there is artificial light available.

A sample diagram of hydroponics method using a bottle cut in half

A sample diagram of hydroponics method using a bottle cut in half. Source: tlc.peoriaud.k12.az.us

Wick system is a great option to gardening. However, you have to keep in mind the pros and cons of using it. It will be better to do research such as the compatibility of this system to the plant you want. Exploring gardening options like this is something worthwhile.

Pin it!

hydroponics wick system pin it

0/5 0 ratings
Lucy M. Clark

Hi there! I’m Lucy, and I’m a self-confessed garden fanatic. Gardening has always been a passion of mine and will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and have one adorable son, I have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other garden enthusiasts like me.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments