Wick System

Welcome to Mainely Hydro’s Hydroponic Grow Methods 101. The following blog-series will introduce gardeners and growers to different hydroponic methods, all of which can be used for personal or commercial gardens. This six-week series will cover the basics of wick systems, NFT (nutrient film technique), drip systems, ebb and flow systems, aeroponics, and DWC (deep water culture).

We will begin the series with a simple hydroponic system, a wick system.

Wick System


Plastic tray, soil-less growing medium, nutrient water solution, wick/rope, and reservoir- air stone and air pump optional


A nylon rope or wick acts as the lifeline for plants in a wick system. The system depends on the wick to provide plants with nutrient rich water, by saturating in a reservoir and feeding into a growing tray. Ideally, wick systems should be used for smaller plants or a small quantity of plants. Keep in mind that wicks can only saturate and feed plants so quickly; your plants may outgrow the system. This can happen if the plant number gets too large, or the plants themselves are too large, and the wick just can’t keep up. Adding multiple wicks may help to alleviate this issue.

To construct a wick system, begin by submerging one end of the wick into the reservoir containing the nutrient water solution. Push the other end of the wick through the growing tray to enable the wick to reach and feed the roots. Next you’ll need a soil-less growing medium. Growing mediums that work well in wick systems include rockwool, coconut coir, perlite, and vermiculite. Fill the table halfway with the growing medium and introduce plants. Then continue filling the tray with the medium.

The reservoir is the holding tank for the nutrient water solution, and is present in in all hydroponic systems in one way or another. In this particular system, no pumps are required in the reservoir, making this hydroponic system great for beginners. Although they are not required, Mainely Hydro suggest always using an air pump and air stone in your reservoir. We know the two ways to encourage plant growth are oxygen at the roots and carbon dioxide at the leaf. We also know a common issue with wick systems occurs when roots become suffocated from depleted oxygen in the water. You can add an air pump that will sit outside of the reservoir and attach it with tubing to the air stone inside the reservoir. This setup will provide the nutrient water solution with dissolved oxygen, avoiding the issue all together. Introduce an air pump and air stone into the reservoir, and you and your plants will appreciate the difference. Easy setup and minimal materials makes wick systems a great starting system for beginning hydroponic gardeners.

Next week, Mainely Hydro’s Hydroponic Grow Methods 101 will introduce NFT or nutrient film technique. 

Posted on: March 24, 2016, by :