Wick Hydroponics: The Unsung Hero of Indoor Gardening

If you’ve been exploring the realm of indoor gardening and hydroponics, you may have come across the term “wick hydroponics”. Assuming you’re already familiar with the basics of hydroponics from the previous article “What is Hydroponics”, let’s dive deeper into the world of wick hydroponics and its nuances.

Benefits of Wick Hydroponics

Among numerous hydroponics methods, why would you choose wick hydroponics over other methods for your indoor gardening adventures? Here are a few reasons:


In traditional soil-based gardening, plants need to spread their roots far and wide in search of nutrients. But with wick hydroponics, we deliver the nutrients straight to the plants. Efficient, isn’t it?


Some hydroponic systems require expensive equipment, but not wick systems. They’re relatively inexpensive, yet yield high-quality results. This affordability makes wick hydroponics a popular choice among indoor gardeners.


If you’re just starting out, wick hydroponics is a friendly way to dive into hydroponics. It requires less technical knowledge compared to other methods, making it a perfect starter system.

Wick Hydroponics vs Other Hydroponics

Every hydroponic method has its unique features, and wick hydroponics is no exception. How does it stand out from the rest?

The Wick System

Unlike other hydroponic methods, wick systems don’t use pumps or electricity. Instead, they utilize the power of capillary action to deliver nutrients from the reservoir to the plants.


In the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), a thin film of nutrient solution constantly flows over the roots. This system requires continuous circulation and a reliable power source.

Deep Water Culture

Deep Water Culture (DWC) is another method where the plant roots are submerged directly into a nutrient-rich water solution. This requires a bubbler or an air stone to keep the oxygen levels up, which in turn requires constant power.

How to Set Up a Wick Hydroponic System

Setting up your own wick system can be a rewarding DIY project. Let’s go through the steps together.

Materials Needed

You’ll need a reservoir, a plant container, a growing medium, wicks, and of course, your plants. The reservoir can be as simple as a plastic container, and the wicks can be made from various materials, which we’ll discuss later.

Setting up the Reservoir

The reservoir will hold your nutrient solution. It should be placed below your plant container. This allows the wick to draw nutrients upward, in a manner reminiscent of how roots pull water from the soil.

Setting up the Wick System

The wicks should be threaded through the bottom of your plant container, making sure they reach the nutrient solution in the reservoir below. It’s like giving your plants a continuous supply of food right at their doorstep!

Choosing the Right Wicks

The success of your wick hydroponic system depends largely on your choice of wicks. This might seem like a trivial step, but it’s far from it.

Factors to Consider

When choosing a wick, consider the absorbency of the material, its durability, and its resistance to mold. Remember, the wick is the lifeline of your plants.

Best Materials

The best materials for wicks are those that are absorbent and durable. Cotton, felt, and nylon are all excellent choices. You could also experiment with other materials to see what works best for you.

Amount of Wicks

The number of wicks you need depends on the size and nutrient needs of your plants. Larger plants or those with a high nutrient demand might require more wicks. But be careful – too many wicks might lead to over-watering.

Maintaining Your Wick Hydroponic System

A well-maintained system is key to thriving plants. Here’s how to keep your wick hydroponic system in top shape:

Changing the Nutrient Solution

Replace the nutrient solution in your reservoir regularly. The frequency will depend on the type of plants you’re growing, but a good rule of thumb is to change it every two weeks.

Monitoring the pH Levels

The pH level of your nutrient solution can affect how well your plants can absorb nutrients. Maintain a pH level suitable for your specific plants, and adjust as necessary.

Handling Plant Diseases

Keep an eye out for any signs of plant diseases. Any discoloration, wilting, or strange growth could indicate a problem. Tackle any issues promptly to keep your garden thriving.

Overcoming Common Challenges in Wick Hydroponics

No system is without its challenges, and wick hydroponics is no different. But don’t worry – most problems have simple solutions.


Over-watering can lead to root rot. If your plants look yellow or wilted, you might be over-watering. Try reducing the number of wicks.


Conversely, under-watered plants may look dry or brittle. If you see these signs, consider adding more wicks to increase the water supply.

Nutrient Imbalance

A nutrient imbalance can affect plant growth. Regularly changing your nutrient solution can help keep the nutrient levels balanced.

Best Plants for Wick Hydroponics

What can you grow in a wick hydroponic system? The possibilities are endless!


Herbs are a great choice for wick hydroponics. Basil, mint, parsley – the choice is yours. You’ll love the convenience of having fresh herbs right in your kitchen.


Leafy greens like lettuce grow well in wick systems. Imagine the joy of harvesting your own salad greens!


And if you fancy something sweet, why not grow strawberries? They’re a bit more of a challenge, but the reward is sweet, fresh strawberries at your fingertips.

Final Thoughts on Wick Hydroponics

Wick hydroponics is an excellent method for indoor gardening, offering cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and a fantastic introduction to hydroponics. The DIY aspect is a fun way to understand your plants better and contribute to their growth directly. So, why not roll up your sleeves and get started?

FAQs about Wick Hydroponics

Q1. What is the best material for wicks in a wick hydroponic system?
Materials like cotton, felt, and nylon work well due to their excellent wicking abilities. The choice ultimately depends on your individual requirements and preferences.
Q2. How often should I change the nutrient solution in my wick hydroponic system?
While it depends on the plants you’re growing, a good rule of thumb is to change the nutrient solution every two weeks.
Q3. Can I grow any plant in a wick hydroponic system?
While most plants can grow in a wick system, it’s best suited for small, fast-growing plants due to its simplicity and nutrient delivery method.
Q4. How many wicks should I use per plant?
It depends on the size and nutrient requirements of the plant. Generally, two to four wicks per plant should suffice.
Q5. How do I prevent over-watering in my wick hydroponic system?
If your plants are showing signs of over-watering, consider reducing the number of wicks. This will help to prevent issues such as root rot and keep your plants healthy.

Wick Hydroponics
Diagram of a wick fed hydroponics setup.
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Jim Allred

Raised on a farm and now thriving in the city, I'm a passionate advocate for hydroponics and indoor gardening. With a background rooted in traditional farming and an eye on the future of sustainable agriculture, I bring a unique perspective to urban gardening. Through this website, I aim to share my knowledge and experiences, hoping to inspire and educate others on the potential of hydroponics. Together, we'll explore how we can bring the garden into our homes and the future of farming into our present. Let's grow together!

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