A hydroponic wick system is a type of hydroponic gardening that uses the capillary action of water to deliver nutrients directly to plant roots.
The soil-less media in this method does not need constant monitoring, and it can be used in any climate or season because there are no problems with excess water or high levels of salts.
As an added bonus, many people find these systems to be much easier than other types of hydroponics!
Related: Types of Hydroponic Systems
How does the wick system work?
It works by having the plants sit in a tray full of nutrient-rich water. There are wicks that run from this tray up to another one containing an absorbent medium, which is usually rock wool or peat moss.
The roots grow down into the first tray and then out through these wick systems to reach the absorbent media above where they can grow freely because the roots are no longer sitting in stagnant water.
The absorbent media is where all of the nutrients and moisture needed for plant growth will be delivered by gravity or a pump, depending on how large your system is.
What components are needed?
There are only five main parts that make up this type of hydroponic system:
- The plant tray – This is where the plants will sit and grow.
- The wick media – What transfers water up to the plant’s roots. It needs to be absorbent, so either rock wool or peat moss can work well.
- Nutrient delivery method (usually a pump) – This part of the system circulates and distributes water to different areas, including up to the plant’s roots.
- The growing medium – That sits on top of the water-filled tray, absorbing the nutrients and moisture from it.
- The reservoir – Some sort of reservoir or holding tank to hold your nutrient solution.
How much does it cost?
This type of hydroponic system can be as cheap as $100 for the base components, or it can be as expensive as $1000 for premium quality equipment that will last longer.
A low-quality system is not recommended because they are unstable and can break easily. This means you would have to replace it more often than a high-end product!
The price of this type of hydroponics depends on how large it is, and what components are included.
Most hydroponic wick systems will cost between $100 – $200 for the main parts like trays, pumps, growing medium, etc., while larger ones can be more expensive. If you need to buy an entire system with all of these components together in one package (including instructions and media), expect to pay $300 – $500.
How do I set it up?
Setting up a hydroponic wick system is very simple, and there are step-by-step instructions included with your purchase that will help you get started!
The first thing you need to do is drill holes in the bottom of your planter tray for the wicks to go through. Then, fill it with nutrient-rich water and connect your pump to the bottom of the planter if you are using one.
Next, place some growing medium on top of this first container full of water (rock wool or peat moss work best) and let it absorb as much liquid as it can.
After that, place your plants into the planter tray and connect the wicks to their roots using twist ties or rubber bands. Finally, add water so that each plant is sitting in nutrient-rich water but not standing directly in it!
Advantages and disadvantages with a wick system
As always, we like to weigh up the pros and cons when it comes to deciding on what system is right for your growing needs.
- The most basic form of hydroponics, which is simple to start with for novices.
- It’s both low-cost and simple to use.
- Super easy to run with little maintenance
- Uses a small amount of energy
- Great for growing smaller plants like spinach or herbs
- Not suited for larger plants that drink a lot of water
- Not the best at giving plant roots the nutrients they need
- Growing media is prone to have a toxic build-up
What material is best for wick water?
You can use a variety of materials for your wick system. The most popular options include:
Coconut fiber rope (coco coir)
This is the easiest to find and cheapest option, but it doesn’t last long if you are using stronger nutrient mixes that contain calcium supplements because they will clog up the pores in this material quickly. It also needs to be replaced often as it decays from being in the water.
This option is one of the most absorbent, but doesn’t have a very long lifespan and needs to be changed out every few months. It also holds on to salt build-up over time which can cause problems for your plant roots if they aren’t flushed regularly.
This is the best option for hydroponics because it will last a year or longer and has no build-up of the salt inside (which can be bad news for your plants). It’s very good at absorbing water but doesn’t hold on to nutrients as well which means you might need to replace it more often than the other options.
You can also use grow stones as a wicking material, which are made from recycled glass! They don’t absorb or release anything into the water that they sit in and last for years with proper care. However, this is one of the more expensive materials to buy so it might not be right for everybody’s budget.
Conclusion: Is the wick system better than other systems?
The hydroponic wick system is a simple method of growing plants without the need for soil. It’s low cost and easy to set up, but it doesn’t give your plant roots their full nutritional requirements or provide enough moisture in larger systems.
If you’re looking to grow small greens like spinach, this could be something worth trying out. However, if you’re looking for something more heavy-duty to grow large plants like tomatoes or cucumbers, you shoyld opt for an aeroponic system.