capillary matting

luvioletsJanuary 26, 2008

Hi everyone!

Watering my plants is taking a very long time each week so I bought a blanket material that I'd like to try as capillary matting. It is 100% nylon. I was planning on trying to line a few trays of my semi minis and see how it works. Plus the humidity level in the room seems a bit low at 30% so hopefully this will boost the humidity too.

My question is, can I use this method of watering even though my plants are not wicked? Will the plant really take up water from the wet matting?

Second question: how much water should I put in the tray? Should it just soak the blanket material as long as it does not turn into a "lake" of water? Is it best to let the water pretty much dry out before I soak it again or do I keep it consistently moist?



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robitaillenancy1(zone 5)

I'm not positive the 100% nylon blanket will work. You will just have to test and see.

Plants on the mat will taken in water just like they do when you put water in a tray for them to take up. The mat makes the water just a bit more even although if the tray is not level, some plants may not take in enough water.

I pour in 4 cups full of water from a 4-cup measuring pot. It depends on if plants are standards or mini and semi as to how much water thay take up. Also it depends on the temperature of the room since some water will evaporate. And it depends on the humidity already there as to how much water will evaporate.

In winter, I have to water about every 5 days, in summer much less often.

Test a few plants to see if they are still damp after 5 days then give more water if necessary. It is better to test the plant rather than the mat.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 1:14AM
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erlyberd(Z5 CT)

I bought a felt material from WM and here are my results. It seems like my plants get too much water and it ends up spotting the foliage. I only put enough water down to keep the material damp. Maybe its the wrong material?
I have my plants on wicks and they are all semi mini's and mini's. I have clear plastic covering my stand and that sure helps keep the humidity higher. Right now its 73.8 degrees with 50% humidity.

I still think wicking is the best solution going but it is labor intensive installing the wicks.

You may want to elevate your mat above the water line and allow one portion to touch the water. Keep us informed.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 10:34AM
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Thanks for the replies Nancy and erlyberd.

I looked at the label and it is 100% polyester blanket, not nylon. I picked it up on the recommendation of Olive at the Violet Barn. She says it's all they use in their greenhouses yet I did not see many of their plants wicked.

Erlyberd, by elevating the mat above the water line, do you mean I should place the mat on a piece of egg crate? Does that just regulate the amount of water in the mat or is there another reason for raising the mat?

I've thought about covering the stand with plastic but was concerned that my dreaded powdery mildew might come back since there will be no air circulation. Have you had that problem?


    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 1:19PM
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robitaillenancy1(zone 5)

I can get humidity up to 75% if I close my door.

I have two fans blowing toward the wall 24 hours a day.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 3:22PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Donna -

depending how humid is the air where you live -
if the humidity is high - acrilic blanket is OK, if it is low - the eggcrate sitting above the water and your blankie touching the water on the sides would be better - otherwise it dries too fast.

Be sure that you soil is light - the recommended 1:1:1 mix or can be even a bit lighter.

If you stick wicks in as well - it will help. You move your plant - disrupt the contact - and your plant will dry.Or if your mat dries, the soil shrinks from the bottom. - it will be hard to rewet it. They do not use wicks at the Violet Barn - but they ask visitors not to pick the plants - because of that.

I use the acrilic blankets or leftover fleece from Walmart too. Be sure to wet and rinse - or even run it through the laundry before using, sometimes it just refuses to soak water otherwise. It shrinks with time - so when you cut it - add some. It is a nice place for growing algae - so be prepared to soak it with Clorax and rewash it at least every 2 months.

But your violets will be happy and grateful.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 10:46PM
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Just a word of caution. Make sure every plant you put into the tray is free of disease. If one plant has a problem pretty soon all of them will have the same problem.
Foliar mealies spread like wild fire on matting.
Fred in NJ

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 10:52PM
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erlyberd(Z5 CT)

Yes, I put four one inch shims under egg crate and let the ends dip into the water. It seemed to work ok but was not fail safe.

Robs floods the mat letting plants soak up the necessary wmoisture and then drain it shortly after. They use a ton of peat so they can't allow water to hand around in the reservoir.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 12:52PM
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dragonfly_wings(Z8 - Central TX.)

Might try synthetic felt or capillary matting.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 7:27PM
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