Sip vs wick watering?

itzimsFebruary 14, 2013

Although I've kept houseplants over the years, i just recently have become reenchanted with african violets.

I have been searching the net trying to get a breakdown of the differences or similarities between a sub irrigated planter (think recycled soda bottle planter) vs the wick watering method that I see mentioned extensively in this forum.

I understand that most advocate using a very lite medium when wick watering and also using wicks of yarn or mason twine in different thicknesses for different pot sizes.

Information on the net regarding SIPs use batting for a wick, make ventilation holes in the part of the bottle (neck) that contains the plant and holes on reservoir part of the bottle to act as an overflow and also to provide more ventilation. I have no idea if the neck of the bottle is meant to be above the waterline or below the waterline. Also can't seem to find out how far up the planter the wick is supposed to extend.

I would really appreciate anyone who can help enlighten this newbie?

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irina_co(z5 CO)

Itzims -

I really cannot imagine what is the contraption you are trying to create. Post the photo!

You can grow AVs in anything - provided that air and soil humidity, temperature, air in a soil, light. Ph, fertilizer is in acceptable limits. Batting stripes can deliver too much water - so make them narrow.

My only word of caution - we keep AVs to enjoy the natural beauty of a well grown happy blooming plant. IMHO people sometimes go overboard with elaborate pots and fancy teacups to keep the plants in - it distracts from the plant itself - so moderation is good. In your case you are trying to create the mechanics out of a household trash. So - put some creativity into making contraption not too obvious.

By the way - if you have your fertilizer solution in a transparent bottle - in no time you will create a colony of green algae there. So probably wrapping it all in dark material will help.

Good Luck and post a pic please!

Irina

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 1:53PM
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itzims

Here is a poster pic of the thing I'm talking about. You are cracking me up! Maybe I should add a few crumpled candy wrappers into the mix? :o)

I guess I am trying to figure out if there is an advantage to the design of the soda bottle planter over wick watering - without losing plants in the learning process. Anyhow here is a link to a website which has lots of info on all types of sub irrigation planters:

Here is a link that might be useful: Inside Urban Green

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 2:55PM
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aviolet6(7)

This is interesting. I have a friend who recently saw this or something similar on Pinterest. We were going to try this on a few plants, but we haven't yet. I think a regular soda bottle would be too big for most African Violets. But I had thought of trying one from a small individual size bottle. A clear bottle would make it easy to see the soil and roots to tell if the plant is in fact getting the right amount of water, but yeah, algae would probably grow in the bottom where the water sits. Anyway, I'm of the opinion that your device would achieve the same thing as the regular wicking methods, it's just a different type of container. You could use yarn or whatever just the same as we do in our little plastic pots. Main thing is don't use a bottle half that's too deep or wide for an African Violet. They have shallow roots and being pot bound is not bad for them.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:25PM
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aviolet6(7)

I would keep the bottle end above the water line. Let the wick(s pull water up as needed. The wick only needs to be 1/2 inch or so up into the soil inside your container part - if that. Higher is ok, but not necessary.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:39PM
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itzims

Thank you for the helpful info.

The diameter of a 24 oz soda bottle is about 2.5 inches. I would imagine the really small bottles would be too small for all but the most tiny plants. I think I'll try one plant in a bottle and see how it works out.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 10:24PM
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aviolet6(7)

I guess I was thinking of wider & deeper bottles. Make sure you use a light mix so it won't be waterlogged. You can even pull the wick out of the water for a day or several if the soil is staying pretty moist and heavy. I do that with some of mine, it's still easier than not using a wick at all and keeps me from worrying that they are getting too much water.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 11:40PM
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itzims

Thanks aviolet6! I've transplanted one violet into a bottle from a 4 inch pot. If they like being potbound, this one should love this planter! At this point I don't see the algae being any more of an issue than it would be for someone using plastic deli containers. I don't have many plants and it would be easy enough to take them to the sink periodically to clean them or swap the dirty bottoms with clean ones.

I also double checked the diameter of the 24oz bottle - it's 2.75 inches. There is a slight bulge on the top and bottom of the bottle, but I'm sure that it can't be more than 3" in diameter at the widest point.

On one of the YouTube vids I saw the guy spray painted his bottles because he had heard the plant roots don't like light. A little too much trouble for me... Somewhere on the link I posted, there is a pic of a cactus w the bottle hidden in a clay pot.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:17AM
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itzims

I happened to google oyama pots after seeing them mentioned on this forum. Don't ya know... They look an awful lot like a fancier and more polished version of my soda bottle planter!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 6:06PM
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aviolet6(7)

Will you post a picture of your finished violet SIP?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 6:13PM
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itzims

Yes I would be happy to do that.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 2:35AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Hmmm - I wouldn't move my hundreds of plants into bottles - but this contraption probably will work admirably for growing tomato seedlings on the windowsill.

I.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:03PM
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itzims

Irina -

This is just a little unkind. I am not asking you to move your collection to soda bottle planters. But I know there are many on this list that would like to use something they made from reclaimed trash. If you look at the oyama pots -- do you think they are contraptions? I can see a resemblance to the oyama pots that many use and love, so why are you condemning this as something only fit to grow a tomato seedling on a windowsill?

I came across sub irrigation planters and upon coming to the garden web forum learned about wick watering. I wondered about the difference between the two and also if, in fact they could be used interchangeably.

Irene

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 5:45PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Irene -

didn't want to offend you = for me - contraption - means some kind of improvised device, not necessary bad or ugly.

If we wouldn't be inventive - and using available materials - we will be still hunting mammoths and growing fur instead of wearing pants and dresses.

I love tomatoes - and for me - growing them from seeds is admirable! My choice ones - the heirlooms " Black Krym" and "Yellow Pineapple". You cut these monsters in half - and the aroma makes you drool...The biggest yellow one in 2011 was 1pound 5oz.
Anyway - generally both approaches use watering by capillary action - so do not see very much difference in the theory - and both techniques need to be tweaked to the soil, humidity etc. of the grower home.

For me - mats and wicks are significantly more convenient - easier to take care - and additional humidity from mats is essential - and plants grow better that way than in Oyama pots. But generally wick watering in all its shapes is better for the humidity loving plants. For cacti - probably not.

Irina

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 2:15PM
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dognapper2(5)

The idea of soda bottle construction for planters and other experiments has been around for a while. I first found this Bottle Biology book years ago. My daughter used it for a 7th grade science fair project - tomato plants w/diff additives besides fertilizer (oil, sugar, soap...).
Miracle-Gro was the winner, as probably could have been predicted :)
She's a chemical engineer now [grins] turns 30 this year...

Lots of other cool ideas for experiments using different bottle construction.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bottle Biology

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 6:58AM
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itzims

Wow, I didn't know there were educational materials about this. Duh! I remember sprouting lima beans in school, so it makes perfect sense!

The site owner of the link above (I think he is the owner) gives classes at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I'm across the river in NJ but I don't know that I want to drive to Bklyn to learn more. :-)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 12:48PM
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seaj

This isn't so different from semi-hydroponics. My violets do very well in s/h, though they did need an initial adjustment period. They all looked kinda sad until they grew new root systems.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 3:17PM
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petrushka

it's essentially the same method, but with sub-hydro there probably will be more water wicked up - so the soil has to be 50% perlite and the wcik farely thin. i use twisted 2-ply acrylic yarn from a knit shop. even then it might be too soggy.
i use smth like that bottle method, except that the AV is in it's reg pot with wick trailing in water in a large yogurt container. the pot is usually too small to rest on the rim. so i nestle the 3rd container in between with a hole cut in the center, thru which the wick trails down. so it's like yogurt container, shallow 'dip' container the same diameter with hole cut and then AV pot on top. with this contraption i don't have to add/change water more then once every 2 weeks. algae not a problem since yogurt containers are not transparent.and i add peroxide (and fertilizer) in water to keep it fresh.
if i see that the soil i soggy - i just lift it out or periodically stop adding more water and let it go drier.
at some point i had over 40 AVs going very happy and blooming non-stop and getting very large too.
but then mites came...but that's another story.
i have no problem going away on vacation either :).
but i do remove rotted bottom leaves promptly. and i don't put very young small plants on the wick - too wet for them. they stay bagged and watered by hand minimally until they start flowering.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 11:53AM
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itzims

Hey, I'm back here to add a follow up to my original post. I had promised to take and post pictures of the av in the planter. I didn't take any. I ended up removing the av from the soda bottle planter. I discontinued the trial because the leaf stems were being damaged from touching the sharp, thin edge of the planter. Not enough damage to kill the leaves but then again it wasn't in the planter that long.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 3:20AM
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Mary246

I hope it's not to late to offer a suggestion. I've been thinking that a person could take a piece of plastic tubing and slice down one side then slip it over the rough edge. You'd have to measure the circle of the pop bottle and cut it to fit. Possibilities.
Mary

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 7:51PM
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