How the Wick Hydroponics System Works

How the Wick Hydroponics System Works

The world’s first known instance of a Wick Hydroponics System goes back to the Babylonian era. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, was built hydroponically. The gardens thrived on a constant watering system coming from river water full of minerals and oxygen.

Even before these vertical marvels came into existence, people were growing rice crops hydroponically. However, advancements in technology have made this sustainable and ecological way of farming without using soil more mainstream.

So, if you are an avid gardener and want to try something new, make your way through this article to better understand this easy hydro farming method! We will discuss the components and how each part comes together to make Wick Hydroponics work.

Let’s begin with the components

wick system hydroponics

Wick Hydroponics System Components

The Wick hydroponics system is extremely simple to build. It is made up of four components.

  • Grow Tray
  • Wick
  • Reservoir
  • Aeration System

Once assembled, it takes no time to build a Wick Hydroponics System. This aspect makes Wicks perfect for students as well.

Grow Tray

The Wick System does not use any net pots for holding the growing medium. So the medium is added directly to the grow tray, and the seedlings are planted in it. Perlite, leca, vermiculate, or coco coir are good options as they do not get soggy like soil.


The wick is an essential part of a Wick hydroponics system. It is the connecting link between the reservoir and the grow tray that holds your plants. Depending on the number of plants or the size of the tray, the wicks are fixed to the grow tray. The general practice is one wick per plant.

Some of the most common wicks used are propylene felt strips, braided polyurethane yarn, cotton rope, nylon rope, blankets, a stripe of fabric from old clothing, fibrous rope, tiki torch wicks, wool strips or rope, wool felt, rayon rope, or mop head strands, and more.


The reservoir is a container full of water with soluble nutrients in it. The size of the reservoir is dependent on the water requirement of the plants you intend to grow. Maintain the water level with regular refilling so that the nutrient solution doesn’t have to travel too long. For optimal effectiveness, place the reservoir directly below the grow tray.

Aeration System

The plants can take oxygen from the nutrient solution. However, you can also use an air pump or an air stone. The air stone is kept at the end of the air tube. When the pump starts, the air pushes through the air stone creating bubbles and spreads oxygen throughout the water. One significant benefit of an air pump is that the water keeps circulating, mitigating the chances of algal formation.

How Does The Wick Hydroponics System Work?

The Wick Hydroponics System is based on the principle of capillarity. It follows the natural phenomenon of fluid movement in narrow spaces resisting gravity and without any assistance.

Talking about the Wick Hydroponics, it uses capillarity or capillary action of water to move nutrients and water from the reservoir to the grow medium containing the plants. As told earlier, every plant has at least one wick or sometimes more that connects it back to the reservoir. The capillary action moves the nutrients from the reservoir to the plants through these wicks.

The working is simple. Water is drawn up through the wicks, past the roots, and back into the reservoir. This combines natural air exchange with water delivery to create a home-grown hydroponic system that’s both sustainable and organic.

Hydroponics are of two types – active and passive. The Wick Hydroponics System falls into the second category. It implies that there are no moving parts, electricity, or pumps used in it. This minimizes the risk of system failure as far as the reservoir is full of nutrient solutions.

hydroponics plant

How to Make The Wick Hydroponics Work At Its Best?

There are a few significant things you must consider while building and maintaining the system. We have explained it with respect to each component.


  • Your chosen wick should have these two significant properties – high wicking ability and resistance to rotting.
  • Test different materials to select the best absorbent material of all. 
  • Wash the wick before using it; this process improves the wicking ability dramatically. 
  • The size of the wick is directly proportional to the amount of nutrient intake. The thicker the wick, the more the water is soaked and needed. So, test the wick before installing.
  • How many wicks should you tie to a plant depends on the water requirement and the plant species?

The Grow Medium

  • The water movement in the Wick hydroponics system is relatively slow as compared to other systems. Therefore, choose a grow medium with the excellent absorbing ability and retain moisture for a long time.
  • Remember, the medium should have some capillary action to soak the nutrients.
  • Clean the reservoirs regularly as some microorganisms and algae may grow in them.
  • Add more nutrients to the water as the concentration may deplete over some time.
  • Flush the medium regularly to prevent nutrient buildup. An excess can cause plant toxicity.
  • Rubber connectors are an excellent option to fasten and ensure that the wicks stay in place. Or you can make smaller holes so that no growing medium falls out of the tray.


  • Periodic maintenance is essential. 
  • Top up the reservoir regularly as the success of your Wick Hydroponics depends on it.
  • Place the reservoir away from light. This will discourage unwanted growth in the reservoir.

Best Plants to Grow

A Wick hydroponics system is not the best system to deliver large amounts of water and nutrients. Therefore, 

  • Non-fruiting plants and small herbs are the best options. 
  • Avoid water-loving plants such as tomatoes.

Wrapping Up

Wick hydroponics system is a versatile and sustainable system that is designed to help you grow your plants with minimal effort. It’s an ideal system for beginners and more advanced growers, especially in situations where space is limited or the grower lacks experience.

You can construct a Wick System at any scale – from a few pots on the windowsill to an acre-sized operation – from readily available materials: plastic buckets, PVC pipe, or screens for growing media like clay pellets or coconut coir chips. So, get started!