Hydroponics has tremendous advantages in today’s world. You can grow plants anywhere throughout the year and get healthy, clean, and organic produce right inside your home.
However, hydroponics has one significant drawback: it initially requires technical knowledge and investment. As a result, the steep learning curve and the complexity can be daunting.
And, if you are looking to get into hydroponics, I suggest starting with a wick hydroponic system because it is the simplest and easiest in both function and form and also the least expensive form of hydroponics system.
Before getting started, it would be helpful to know what the wick system hydroponics pros and cons are.
What Is Wick System Hydroponics?
Wick system hydroponics is the simplest and easiest of the six types of hydroponics system designs. And within the hydroponics system, there are two groups of hydroponic systems: active and passive.
Every wick hydroponic system has four essential components:
- Growing container
- Reservoir for the nutrient solution
- Growing medium
The wicking system belongs to the passive group. It has very few moving parts and does not require sophisticated machinery or equipment like motors and pumps or extreme planning and engineering efforts.
This system is perfect for beginners, and you might have already tasted it at school since most teachers often use it as an introduction to hydroponics.
The Wick system works phenomenally well with low-maintenance plants that require less water and nutrients. Once you set up your wick system, you can grow herbs such as rosemary and leafy vegetables like lettuce.
How Does Wick System Hydroponics Work?
Before discussing the wick system hydroponics pros and cons, you should first understand how this type of hydroponic system works.
The principle behind the wick system is based on capillary action, a natural and everyday phenomenon related to water movement across closed tubes.
Have you, your parents, or your grandparents used a fountain pen? The ink moves from the pen’s body reservoir to the tip and paper. Well, capillary action is needed to keep the ink flowing onto the paper.
In a hydroponic wick system, capillary action is what feeds the nutrient solution to the root zone of the plants. It uses this capillary action of water to draw water and nutrients from a reservoir to the plants.
As we discussed earlier, the wick system hydroponics belongs to the passive form of hydroponics, which means that the system works without motors, pumps, or moving parts. And capillary action transports the liquid to the roots all by itself.
Each plant will have at least one or two wicks connecting it to the reservoir, usually installed immediately under the growing surface or tray for maximum effectiveness.
With the capillary action, the water and dissolved nutrients will move from the reservoir up to the plants through the wicks.
Why Choose Wick System Hydroponics?
One of the main reasons most people choose wick system hydroponics is because it is the most environmentally friendly hydroponics system. If you build your wick system in an area where your plants will receive enough natural light, you no longer need electricity to grow your plants successfully.
In addition, you can choose to use recycled and renewable materials for all of your system components. And hydroponic wick systems consume less water and nutrients than other hydroponics systems.
Another reason new gardeners should choose a wick hydroponic system is its absolute simplicity. It is the perfect choice to get you started in your hydroponics journey.
I would recommend beginning with a single setup where the structure is low maintenance. You would only need to replenish the reservoir containing the nutrient solution as required and flush out the system routinely.
With a wick hydroponic system, you do not need any specialized equipment. All you need is a few buckets that will serve as your containers.
An option is to prepare a small wick system container using a 2-liter plastic bottle. As for the wicking material, you can use any absorbent material as a great option to work with, including yarn, string, rope, or even strips of old clothes.
What Plants Grow in Wick System?
The Wick system is suitable for cultivating smaller, non-fruiting plants, such as herbs and lettuce, and starting seeds and cuttings. And, because the Wick system is that wicking is a relatively slow, low-volume way to move liquid, these types of plants don’t need much compared to other types.
The best plants to grow with the Wick system are fast-growing lettuces and herbs. Herbs, including rosemary, which does not require very much water, are excellent choices.
Also, most people use hydroponic wick systems to complement other growing systems that can support higher volumes of plant growth.
What Are Wick System Hydroponics Pros and Cons
Now that you have a good idea of how a wick hydroponic system works. Let us discuss the Wick hydroponic system’s advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of a Wick Hydroponic System
- The significant advantage of a wick hydroponic system is that it is simple to build and easy to maintain. It is beginner-friendly.
- Whether you keep your wick hydroponic system small or scale it up, you can do it by recycling or upcycling your everyday household items and materials that you already possess at home.
- Once your wick hydroponic system is set up and running, you can enjoy low-maintenance gardening year-round.
- Another significant advantage is that a wick hydroponic system doesn’t require electricity making it possible to set up in places that lack electricity power and leading to electricity savings.
- Wick system hydroponics is also very water efficient because the system is automated since the water-based solution delivery depends on the plants’ consumption.
- Hydroponic wick systems use fewer nutrients and water than other growing systems due to the kinds of plants the system supports.
Disadvantages of a Wick Hydroponic System
- One of the major downsides of wick system hydroponics is that you are somewhat limited in what types of plants you can grow because of the slow rate at which the system delivers the nutrient solution.
- Larger plants and plants that produce fruits are not well suited for wick system hydroponics because they are thirstier for water and nutrients to support their growth.
- Another disadvantage to wick system hydroponics is that the growing medium is susceptible to a toxic buildup of nutrients over time. However, you can prevent this issue by rinsing it every week or two with fresh water.
How to Maintain a Wick Hydroponic System
Even though wick system hydroponics is a low-maintenance system, you should still do a few things to ensure your plants are healthy and flourishing in their living environment.
One of the biggest concerns in hydroponic wick systems is that the plants are not getting an adequate amount of nutrient solution because of the low volume at which the wicks deliver the liquid. You can prevent this by:
- Setting up multiple wicks to provide your plants with a higher amount of water and nutrients.
- Keeping the water level high in the reservoir so it doesn’t need to move as far.
- Rinsing your growing media regularly to avoid nutrient build-up, which can be toxic to plants.
- If required, add an air stone to aerate the water and supply more oxygen to your plants.
The wick system hydroponics is the simplest and easiest in both function and form and the least expensive hydroponics system. Just ensure that you are familiar with the basics and the wick system hydroponics pros and cons to help you figure out if this system suits you best.
This system serves a particular purpose in the world of hydroponics. You can think of this system as the training wheels on a bike, and pretty soon, you will have outgrown the wick system hydroponics and moved on to the bigger and more powerful type of hydroponics systems.
And, even after you have upgraded to more sophisticated methods, you can still utilize a wicking setup for some fresh herbs in your living room or kitchen.