Houseplants forum→wick-watering, either indefinitely or as a vacation technique

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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Sep 21, 2018 12:29 PM CST
I bought some nylon twine to setup some of my plants to be wick-watered & would love to hear anyone's/everyone's thoughts about this who has some experiences to share.

My goals are to save time overall, or at least reduce the interval between watering some smaller pots, give those plants smoother conditions (meaning not getting so dry because it's such a PITA to get covered in bug spray & become dripping with sweat to water them,) and to not worry about the wicked plants while on vacation next summer.

Has anyone setup a gravity-based system where one vessel of water has wicks going to many plants below it? That would eliminate the need for cache pots & adding water to each reservoir.

Tales of temporary vacay setups appreciated also!

@Hamwild inadvertently reminded me that I want to do this for some plants whenever it EVER cools enough to do stuff outside again. Since my plants will be outside a good portion of the year, I'll need a tight fit so mosquitoes can't get to the water to lay eggs. Ham, your post in the other discussion that reminded me made me curious, if you are needing to add water inside of a week, do you think it is saving time, or is that even a factor in why you are wicking?

TIA for any feedback!
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[Last edited by purpleinopp - Sep 21, 2018 12:30 PM (+)]
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Hamwild
Sep 21, 2018 1:01 PM CST
purpleinopp said:I bought some nylon twine to setup some of my plants to be wick-watered & would love to hear anyone's/everyone's thoughts about this who has some experiences to share.

My goals are to save time overall, or at least reduce the interval between watering some smaller pots, give those plants smoother conditions (meaning not getting so dry because it's such a PITA to get covered in bug spray & become dripping with sweat to water them,) and to not worry about the wicked plants while on vacation next summer.

Has anyone setup a gravity-based system where one vessel of water has wicks going to many plants below it? That would eliminate the need for cache pots & adding water to each reservoir.

Tales of temporary vacay setups appreciated also!

@Hamwild inadvertently reminded me that I want to do this for some plants whenever it EVER cools enough to do stuff outside again. Since my plants will be outside a good portion of the year, I'll need a tight fit so mosquitoes can't get to the water to lay eggs. Ham, your post in the other discussion that reminded me made me curious, if you are needing to add water inside of a week, do you think it is saving time, or is that even a factor in why you are wicking?

TIA for any feedback!


I don't feel that it saves me any time (granted it's probably because my pots and outer cache pots are so small and thus, I can't add that much water to the cache pots) because I have to add more water about every other day! I do it because I can't seem to grow a 'Peace Lily' or the more... finicky ferns any other way. I purposely bought Exotic Angel plants that had the nylon pre-installed, as theirs are supposed to be "ick" resistant. Hilarious!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Sep 21, 2018 2:33 PM CST
I have cared for many plants on wick or subirrigation systems and they generally work fine. Make sure the wicking material works well. I prefer wool strips available online.

Certainly, multiple plants with wicks can be used with a single very large reservoir of water. I have always used reservoirs from below the plants, but I don't know any reason why a higher reservoir wouldn't work, as well.
If you push the wick up from the bottom almost all the way to the top of the soil, then the soil will stay quite moist - good for Peace Lilies, for example. If you push the wick up only a quarter of the way into the pot, the soil will not stay as wet and that may be better for succulents
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Tropicals
Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1
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purpleinopp
Sep 21, 2018 2:45 PM CST
TYVM to both, very helpful info!! I'm pleased to hear that the water can wick up so well. I thought if the wick was more than a few inches out of the pot that gravity would need to help but it does not sound like that is needed.

What about clay vs. plastic? Any tries with unglazed clay? I have 3 of those that are drying so often. I'll be moving those to bigger pots before it gets hot again next year, but whatever is in those pots is going to dry as quickly.

Will, do you prefer wool because it wicks more quickly, or evenly, or some other reason? I'm curious but would still be hesitant to use anything natural because of the way everything grows black mildew/mold here, when moist. Handy to have an alternative suggestion in case the nylon is disappointing.
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☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Sep 21, 2018 5:04 PM CST
Tiffany - Below is a link to the wicks that I use. I like them because they are easy to cut to any desired length. I have never had a problems with them and I have some in place for 10+ years. I can't say they are superior to other wicks. You may want to experiment a bit.

http://www.silksareforever.com...

I apologize for that unwieldy link. If it doesn't work, just google "plant water wicks" and that will take you to the site.

The wicks should work equally well with either terra cotta or plastic as it is the potting soil that determines the capillary action. I'm not sure that very sandy potting mixes wick very well. Of course, terra cotta pots will always breathe more and generally require more more water, all other factors being equal.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Art Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Hamwild
Sep 21, 2018 5:06 PM CST
Thank You! for the Acorn s!
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Tropicals
Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1
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purpleinopp
Sep 22, 2018 6:01 AM CST
TY for the link, Will. It is working.

I'm thrilled to hear that a wick can deliver enough moisture quickly enough to be used in clay pots too.

You're welcome, Ham! ;)
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now.
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☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Justin
(Zone 7a)
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GardeningJustin
Sep 24, 2018 2:02 PM CST
Hi purpleinopp!

We have a multi-pot planter we're testing in some stores (we call it the WaterWick Foliage Combo for the time being) that allows you to grow eight different WaterWick-ed plants together in the same planter. One thing that's fun about it is that you can put succulents and fittonias in the same combo planter because each "drinks" through the wick at its own rate.
:-)

If it performs well, you'll probably see this concept roll out to more stores. And if it takes off for us, you're sure to see other vendors copy the idea over time!

---Justin
Costa Farms Horticulturist
Name: Justin
(Zone 7a)
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GardeningJustin
Sep 24, 2018 2:11 PM CST
BTW: I have a Calathea orbifolia that's been given the WaterWick treatment. One surprising benefit is that it's *obnoxiously* rootbound and doesn't seem to mind because it's always getting a consistent moisture supply. I have to refill my reservoir pot a lot more often, but it's the only way I've been able to keep a calathea looking not just fine, but actually fabulous.

---Justin
Costa Farms Horticulturist

BTW: Please don't judge me too hard for my confessed bad luck with Calatheas.
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Art Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Hamwild
Sep 24, 2018 2:37 PM CST
I'd think you have some supernatural gift otherwise if you could take care of a Calathea. Hilarious!
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Herbs Region: Texas Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 2 Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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pod
Sep 24, 2018 5:25 PM CST
All right Tiffany, you have my mind turning. I'm wondering if this would be feasible to use in the greenhouse overwinter.

I don't want to repot all these plants but if I could slip the plants out of the container and insert the wick on the inside of the container. (((Maybe))) Then all I would have to do is keep the water reservoir container full.

Believe in yourself even when no one else will. ~ Sasquatch
Name: Mindi Hammerstone
Tracy, CA (Zone 9b)
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MindiHammerstone
Sep 24, 2018 8:43 PM CST
Does anyone have a photo of the wick system in use? I have never thought of doing this before, am very curious!! 😀

Mindi
Name: Justin
(Zone 7a)
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GardeningJustin
Sep 25, 2018 5:25 AM CST
MindiHammerstone:

See the WaterWick system at https://www.waterwickinside.co...

---Justin
Costa Farms Horticulturist
Name: Mindi Hammerstone
Tracy, CA (Zone 9b)
Dog Lover Dragonflies
MindiHammerstone
Sep 25, 2018 7:19 AM CST
Thank you Justin!!! 😀

Mindi
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Plumerias Orchids Cactus and Succulents Region: New Jersey Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers
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Ursula
Sep 25, 2018 7:45 AM CST
I have done it to water some plants while on vacation, and I also grew African Violets that way, had them sitting on a grid over a tray with water, with wicks threaded into the pots from the bottom up.
I tested several types of potential wicks and found cotton shoelaces the most effective. You have to experiment a bit with how high to place the water container, since you just want to water your plant, not create a flood.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Tropicals
Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1
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purpleinopp
Sep 25, 2018 7:47 AM CST
TYVM, Justin! That's a fascinating idea! TY for the info-preview.

I've never spent $ on pots, but would absolutely consider devoting some plant budget to a "better" pot. Those in the pics:
https://www.waterwickinside.co...
look small, but a lot of the reason I have hardly any pots smaller than about a gallon are because they dry so quickly, a situation that could be ameliorated by wicking, assuming I can secure them from wind while outside. (If one could click through the 3 sections of that part of your website, it would be smoother. I had to go back to click on each one.)

I'm anxious to see what the multi-pot system looks like.

I'm still going to want to add wicks to some really big pots, like 5-gallon buckets. Thinking about putting 3-4 wicks in a pot that size. What are folks' opinions about that? It may prove to be impractical to try to run the wicks through the bottom holes. Is there anyone doing wicks that go in from the top? A hole (or multiple holes) cut in the side could be an option.

Ham, right?! LOL! Fussy fellows like that seem to require a level of consistency that is sooo hard to supply.

Kristi, having similar thoughts. ;) I can't even reach all of my plants once they get packed into shed-posing-as-GH. I'd love to not have to worry about the back-row-dwellers getting so dry. The rest need to come out into the light as much as possible anyway, so they are easy to soak as needed while they are out.





👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Tropicals
Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1
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purpleinopp
Sep 25, 2018 7:47 AM CST
TYVM, Ursula!
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Plumerias Orchids Cactus and Succulents Region: New Jersey Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers
Greenhouse Ponds Keeper of Koi Forum moderator Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Adeniums
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Ursula
Sep 25, 2018 7:59 AM CST
Yes, you can wick large plants from the top of the pot! I watered large Passifloras that way! Just insert the tip into the top of the soil , and perhaps coil the wick a bit snake-wise over the whole pot surface before placing the other end into the water bucket. I guess, one simply has to follow the old "communicating tubes" principle/ match the depth of both ends of the wick in such a way that water is properly flowing or better even, dripping. ( Keeping the tip of the wick in the water bucket at the bottom of the bucket) Soaking the cotton shoelaces first before inserting will start things up easier.
[Last edited by Ursula - Sep 25, 2018 8:06 AM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Sep 25, 2018 9:38 AM CST
Professional interior landscapers often use various sub-irrigation systems so that they can minimize the number of maintenance visits required at their client accounts. They are used in decorative planters and are very effective for all sized plants. However, they are not cost effective for home plant owners.

Water wicks are the simplest and least expensive extended-irrigation option. They can be used with any sized plant pot and don't require repotting or retrofitting. Besides the wick, all that is needed is a reservoir (a container that holds water) and a waterproof platform for the nursery pot to sit on above the water level in the reservoir. You can use any sized reservoir, including a large bucket of water as long as the grow pot can sit above the water in the reservoir. Multiple plants can have their wicks inserted in the same reservoir.

For smaller plants, a thick styrofoam block cut to size can be placed in the reservoir container for the plant pot to sit on. The blocs can be doubled up to increase the height. Styrofoam is waterproof and completely un-natural so it never decomposes. I have also seen bricks used as platforms.

I have sometimes used plastic window boxes as a reservoir for multiple smaller (6-inch) plants that are set on top of styrofoam in the bottom of the window box. Anything that holds water has potential as a water reservoir.

Once you understand the concept of wick watering, which is pretty basic, you can use an unlimited variety of sealed containers to hold the water and use the wicks with any number or size plants.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Herbs Region: Texas Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 2 Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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pod
Sep 25, 2018 10:27 AM CST
Wow! What great information from everyone. The seed is planted in my mind.

Thank you Tiffany for starting this thread.

Thanks to both Will & Justin for the information and the links.

Ursula, I appreciate you sharing your experience. How deep into the plant container did you place the shoelace?

I feel that I should be able to pull the root ball out of the container to insert but would prefer not to disturb the roots if the wick can be placed around the root ball.

I am also a bit nervous about keeping the plants a bit too moist in cooler weather so need to experiment, perhaps with some sacrificial plants... Whistling
Believe in yourself even when no one else will. ~ Sasquatch

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