Introduction: Wick Based Hydroponics

Picture of Wick Based Hydroponics

Here's another hydroponic system, it is, again, passive, set and forget it. I did this during lunch one day at work so assembly goes pretty quick.

Let the debate whether or not this is hydroponcs begin.

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Step 1: You'll Need a Wicking Material

Picture of You'll Need a Wicking Material

Cotton rope is the easiest, however it has the disadvantage of rotting, so I borrowed some "nylon" rope from a tree guy i know. What I got is a hank of synthetic rope, probably polyethylene. Then i tested it's wicking ability, both washed and unwashed. Washing it really help. I measured the absorption at 1ml/Hour/wick

Step 2: Now That You Have a Wick

Picture of Now That You Have a Wick

Mix up a bucket of nutrient solution, punch a hole in the top, thread the wicks (I decided to use four) through and snap the lid on the bucket.

Step 3: Now the Grow Container

Picture of Now the Grow Container

I cut down a couple of 5 gallon plant pots and forced on inside the other so that the media wouldn't wash out the holes. Then threaded the wicks up through the bottom hole and spread out the wicks.

Step 4: Finally

Picture of Finally

I put an inch of vermiculite in the bottom of the grow container to ensure good wickability, and then filled the rest of the container with 50/50 vermiculite/perlite.

Pre-moisten the media, sprinkle with lettuce seeds and set in the sun.
Here's 4 weeks growth, could have been better, poor nutrient mixture.


BestGrowLights (author)2012-06-11

Great idea! You can make many other simple to advanced hydroponics systems with the hydroponics supplies and parts found here.

bahjayum (author)2008-02-18

can the nutrient solution be made from any home supplies? rather then buying the stuff?

Spint (author)bahjayum2008-10-29

Two tablespoons miracle gro + 0ne tablespoon epsom salt to 1 gallon of water. Or make a compost and use the liquid runoff.

krack (author)Spint2012-01-06


Spint (author)krack2012-01-06


bahjayum (author)Spint2008-10-29

okay thanks

keithcat (author)2008-05-22

hydroponics is great. well infact i have my strawberry and its so sweet . but i dont have idea how Wick Based Hydroponics means.

krack (author)keithcat2012-01-06

I like strawberrys

roywlogan (author)keithcat2008-07-03

All your base are belong to us

Mr. E Meat (author)roywlogan2010-03-15

Haha! I just chocked on my soup! :P

Ronyon (author)2011-03-10

Very inspiring!
I know this is old but I thought I should ask my question where it was inspired-here.
I have built and used two-bucket soil wicking, self watering systems.
Rather than using a basket to hold the soil, I drill a 3"or so hole,lay a sheet of screen over it, push the screen through to the bottom of the lower bucket, staple the screen in place, trim off the excess screen,and pack the screen pouch and upper bucket with wicking soil.

Easier for me than the "wicking basket" usually used, but a handful of rope wicks would be easier still.
I add peat moss to potting soil and solid fertilizer to make my wicking soil.
Would this soil work in place of the vermiculite and perlite used in this Instructible?
Also,what is the best kind of rope for a wick?

I am trying this right now,with pure peat soil,and hemp(maybe) rope, in both a two-liter bottle design and a margarine tub/tomato sauce can build.
I want to scale this up to the multi-gallon size seen here, or even beyond into 55gallon drums.
Any feedback would be great.Thanks.

TheOpenPalm (author)2010-04-12

Aren't most lamp wicks cotton?

hydroron (author)2009-09-06

Excellent construction! The Earthbox is a wicker too but doesn't admitt it! You can also make a drip or flood and drain system - check out the videos at

DasBus (author)2009-03-25

This is a very clever idea - thanks!

Masterdude (author)2008-11-08

I'm growing peppers and basil. Going to try this out.

Digital_Anarchy (author)2007-09-02

a community of bright, capable and inventive people who enjoy the chalenge of a project to work on, lots of whom are uni or collage students. I think everyone is trying to avoid posting what's really on their mind.

The answer is yes, this would work for growing pot.

Thats exactly what was on my mind! =P

Dude, I have no idea what you are talking about.

josheeg (author)2008-08-04

it would seem to me that a bubler or aquarium charcol filter in the watter supply going once a day could help reduce growth in the watter. The bubler would go on at night when the plant takes in 02 and would not displace co2. This seems to me would be a good backup so the plants that get top sprinkled watter like in other instructables do not die when the pump dies... to make a more robust system.

grasshopper hydroponics (author)2008-06-28

Great growing! Keep it up, this just shows how easy it is to grow indoors and out! Loads of one plant systems are available, everyone does it.

Niem (author)2008-04-06

yea i cant get any of these materials

Tom_n_6bzone (author)2007-08-12

If you placed a tube or pipe, like a pvc pipe into the top side of the bottom container to fill the it with water, you would not have to lift off the top growing container. If you drilled a small hole, say an inch from the top of the bottom container, you could not overfill it as it would begin to flow out of the hole. I think that I'm sounding like an Earth Box, huh?

Saga (author)2006-10-29

I believe that one reason why wick hydroponics aren't very popular is because the dissolved solids in the nutrient solutions can crystallize on the wick and the amount of water delivered to the roots will slowly decline. Also, if there are any pH issues, they would be slow to remedy because the wick itself would be harboring additional nutrients which would throw the actual nutrient pH off. This is still a great idea though for a system of water delivery. I would use a surface-sprinkled, time-released granule fertilizer and only put pH balanced water in the reservoir. Though for younger plants still in their vegetative state I try to keep the pH at around 6.5. Cheers

The Full Belly Project (author)2006-10-28

So what's the major advantage using a wick vs other forms of hydroponics?

It is another 100% passive method and can be done cheaply ;) The only drawback is scale - but its not too terrible ;)

trebuchet03 (author)2006-10-27

Vermiculite is a suitable hydroponics medium ;) Nice work. Just keep up with water changes to prevent nutrient toxicity :/

About This Instructable




Bio: Working my dream job in the Telecom industry, so chances are, i'll never have time to respond to comments or messages, nothing personal.
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