Make a Super-easy Hydroponics System!




Introduction: Make a Super-easy Hydroponics System!

About: I'm a person, into Science, Physics, Weapons, String Theory, Altoids tins, Vacuum Formers, Explosives, Computers and pretty much everything else.

I'm busy, like gardening, and forgetful. Whats the easy way to counter all that, and grow plants? A hydroponics system!

Hydroponics, or the art of growing without soil, is pretty darn simple. Water+nutrients+plant= better than dirt. No weeds! No bugs! No over-watering! No gardening smarts required! Just plop your plants in and sit back!

Here's how to build an easy wick hydroponics system with stuff around your house.

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Step 1: What You Need

Here's what you'll need for this project.

  • A plant with a somewhat small root-ball.
  • An empty spice container, small. The lid must have a flip up top and holes, but the flip-up top can be broken off.
  • Lid from another spice container, same size, but no holes
  • Gravel or pebbles
  • Old T-shirt, sock, or some sort of cotton fabric
  • Distilled or bottled water
  • Fertilizer that will dissolve in water
  • Tape
  • (Optional) black paint

Step 2: Preparing the Jar

Remove the cap on you spice jar, and using hot water, remove the label and glue. Then wash out the lid and jar. Take your cap, and cut off the bit without holes. Set aside.

Then take the other cap, and cut a hole in the center big enough so that the holes in the other cap all show. Finally, tape the caps together.

Step 3: Prepare Medium

Take your gravel/pebbles, and thoroughly wash them in HOT water. Make sure all dirt, moss, and small plants have been removed.

Step 4: Prepare Wicks

Take your T-shirt, and cut 5 thin strips an inch longer than your jar. Wash them thoroughly with water, dry until damp, and feed one through each hole of the jar lid. If done right, it shouldn't need any glue.

Then, loosely braid the long ends (The ends that will be in water) together in a way that they don't come apart. Tie a knot at the end.

Step 5: Prepare Plant

Now take your plant, and dig it out of the dirt its in. Remove as much dirt as possible, and then gently wash the rest off with water.

Step 6: Assembly, Part 1

Mix your fertilizer and water to the instructions on the package. Pour this mixture into the jar. Then, put the long ends of the wicks into the water, and screw the cap-assembly on.

Step 7: Assembly, Part 2

Place your plant into the top, making sure the wicks are touching the roots. You may find you need to unscrew the cap and pull the braid a bit to shorten the wicks. Once the plant fits in, fill the top with gravel until the roots are covered.

EDIT: I found that my plant was drying out, so I covered the roots in scraps of tissue. This held them to the sock fabric and also kept the tops wet.

Step 8: Optional- Algae Proofing

Paint or cover the jar with something opaque, to discourage Algae growth.

Step 9: End

Congrats! You have your very own hydroponics wick setup! Grow this for a few months, see if you like it, and if so, expand into other types of hydroponics systems.

Hydroponic Food Factory


Thermally Pumped ebb-and-flow system

Home Hydroponics

Hydro-warning: The more complicating your systems get, the more likely your plants are to die from random things. Dirt is the least likely, wicking second building up with the nutrient film technique, and peaking at random die offs with Aeroponics and Aquaponics. Tread carefully.

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    13 Discussions


    6 years ago

    Where do you put the fish?


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    In hydroponics there is no place to put fish. I think your thinking of aquaponics


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Might want to cover the bottom of the container as to no get algea


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Good idea and nice work i had fun doing this. I my self did not have old spice containers laying around so i used a soda bottle. Drilled holes in the lid and chopped the top off and flipped it over. I am about to go get some paint for it soon if the soda bottle works out i will be making more.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I've have a recycled grocery bag full of spice jars I didn't want to throw away. You just made my day!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I may do something like this for an upcoming environmental fair in my area. It's amazing how may people think growing a plant without dirt must be voodoo. I like seeing something like this on a very small scale. My hydroponic garden at home is too large to transport to different places on a whim.
    Just a suggestion though: add 2 parts of fertilizer to one part Epsom salt (1 gallon of water, 2 tsp fertilizer, 1tsp of Epsom salt). The added nutrients from the epsom salt will help replace the nutrients that would normally be in the soil.


    9 years ago on Step 9

    Kaber et al, I did a similar science project with my daughter a few years back taking off a theme I saw at Epcot Ctr with floating garden in the lakes there. cool; So for starting seeds I took scrap styrofoam laying around the house and cut out circular "biscuits" per se and then cut a center hole (donut like) that would support a single cotton ball. Used a medium plastic container (6" X 12") with 6" sides. Fabricated a black wrapper with just about any black material to block some of the sunlight from sides (garbage bag should work well). I started tomatoes by placing the seeds in the cotton balls and then placing in the donuts so enough cotton was level with the bottom and will remain wet. Germination in just a few weeks and makes a good observation sort of terrarium for kids. Donuts can be lifted out and used for observation/discussion and returned to nutrient broth you have in plastic container. Obviously as the plants get some size they could tilt the floatation device but by that time you should be ready to transplant to another larger device; maybe a regular pot with soil or such. The cotton ball with roots can just be transplanted to new medium. I terminated my project at that point but should be a nice classroom starter project. If I were using it for my garden now (and I may start it again) I'd transplant to a small pot until enough size to later move to outside garden but gives a way to start plants way early inside in preparation for warm temps. Have fun.


    10 years ago on Step 9

    Thanks! I am looking for a few small & simple hydroponic projects for our homeschool group and this looks like it'd be great for us to do.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    That s cool, but I dont think it s some hydroponics system. It looks like more than a self-watering system.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    There isn't any dirt. Search "Wick hydroponics" on google.