Wicking Question

nwgatreasures(7)March 12, 2009

Taking a survey and hoping that I can communicate clearly what I'm asking about.

Here's what I already know:

wick comes into container through hole in bottom of container. Perlite or gravel is added to the bottom of the inside of cup. Wick is pulled through that medium.

Here's what I want to know now:

1) do you curl the wick between this layer and the next layer of soil


2) do you continue to bring the wick up into the soil just a bit so that the wick will be between the roots and the bottom of the container


3) Do you bring the wick all the way up and and around where the root system of the plant will be so that the 'top end' of the wick is almost near the top of the soil/container?

What do you do? WHY do you do it that way?


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Hi everyone, I need a little help here i am afraid to wick my violets. I had a few of them wicked and I was afraid something would happen to them so I pulled the yarn out. Maybe I am unsure how to do this as there are so many with their own ways so what is the best way and is this really safe?-Thanks Terri

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 6:38PM
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This thread should help you then.
I'm actually afraid to not wick my violets.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 7:05PM
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It took me awhile to be comfortable with wicking, but now all of my AV's are wicked or in oyama pots.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 7:33PM
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Dora, I've wicked all three ways. I don't really see any difference in any of the ways. Lately I've been putting an inch or more of perlite in bottom of pot, then adding potting mix (1/3 of each of av pot. mix, perlite, vermiculite). All but one tray of babies sit on capilary matting. That's the reason for the extra perlite in bottom of pot. One tray of babies sit on grids. I do notice that when transplanting, the the roots are down into the perlite on the bottom of pot.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 8:01PM
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Hi Ima, Do you have to put the perlite in the bottom when I wicked my violets I didn't. And then I would read everyone elses way and thats when I got nervous and I unwicked the ones that made me nervous some are still wicked and seem to be fine,I just wish I could say the same for myself.-Terri

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 10:48PM
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I only put perlite in the bottom of the pots that will sit on a mat in a tray. This is so if there is extra water in the tray, the plant will not be sitting in water, it will have the perlite buffer. Sort of like the oyama pots only I have a wick thru a plastic pot and it has some perlite in the bottom of the pot. If a pot is pulling up water from a water source below the pot, like the pot is sitting on a margarine tub with a hole cut in the top for the wick to drop thru, it doesn't need perlite in the bottom of the pot.

Whenever you wick, you need extra perlite mixed in your soil so your soil does not hold too much water. If you wick a plant and you think it is too wet, repot..adding more perlite to the soil. This is why you should not wick all your plants at the same time..if they should be too wet before you realize, you don't want to lose all your plants. Work on a couple at a time.

When I pot up a plant, I
1) pull my yarn up thru the bottom of the pot. (I use the 3 strand baby yarn...I had trouble with the the regular yarn pulling up too much water, pulling the strands apart was too much time)
2) I put a piece of paper towel in the bottom to keep the perlite/soil in the pot.
3) I put in some perlite, it's going on the mat in a tray or may at sometime go on the mat. I'm holding up the yarn with my thumb.
4) I put in some soil mix
5) I drop the yarn
6) I put in the plant and add the rest of the soil, not tamp it down too hard.
7) Top water just a bit as soil is already damp.

This is what I do and what works for me. Lots of ways work, because everyone uses a little different soil mix, has different wicking materials even their growing conditions differ. I think the main problem someone will have with wicking is the soil does not have enough perlite and it stays too wet or the wicking material does not draw up the water..and..both can be changed to work better.

I have oyama pots and the plants love them, but I can't put every plant I have in them, I have too many plants. The wicking works in both a tray or a water source under it.... I have pots that fit in the tops of small vases, teapots, flower pots without the drain hole, painted yogart cups - lots of things can be decorative water sources.

Don't be afraid to try. Plants like it and it is much less work to water and all. Just try a couple at a time and like you say, if you think it isn't working, pull the wick out, or leave the wick in and just remove the water source under the plant and put it in a saucer or what. Leaving the wick shouldn't be a problem. Or try repotting with more perlite, change the wick. Every one of us that wicked the first time was a little afraid. I remember mine was way too wet. But now I'm much better at it!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 1:49AM
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Thanks lily - your explanation is the kind that I'm looking for to gather from growers here.

I'm finding better success with looping the wick between the soil and the gravel (bottom layer) because plants that have had the wick brough up around the root system are too wet for my taste/preference.

I'm working on a "Picture Directions" sheet to use in the community programs that we are doing and I'm just gathering (hopefully more will participate) experience and preferences from those who post here.

When complete, this picture sheet (that will be laminated) should be able to communicate to almost anyone who can see....the basic and elementary steps to potting a violet in a solo cup.

I like my wick placed in a circular position between the gravel and the soil but others in our group like it brought all the way up and I think that makes the soil too wet.

Hoping more will contribute to this thread. Thanks to those who have already done so.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 7:47AM
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Dora...I always like to start by telling people that they CAN grow a violet from walmart or the grocery store. Cause the first thing out of their mouth is they kill violets. If they can grow a houseplant they can grow a violet, they just need to change that peat and its so hard to get thru to them! Good luck with your programs and I hope we get some more people interested in growing violets!

I think as long as you get that wick up into the pot some, the soil will do the rest...I don't think it matters how far, as long as it doesn't come out the top of the soil, cause then its drying out I believe. tish

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 7:56PM
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Hi, Dora I took your great advise and followed your wicking ways,just got done wicking four of my violets wish them luck for me.Thanks and happy growing-Terri

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 9:46PM
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Hi Dora,

I agree with lillipad, I am not too sure that circling the wick one way or the other, having it 1.323 inches from the bottom, or any other wicking specifics should be too critical just as long as you get it up inside the pot and into the potting mix. The poting mix will take care of it from there. You probably want to be careful that you do not leave the wick sticking out on the top of the mix, since this might have a tendency to wick the water out of the pot. Other than that, I don't think that it matters too much. I have also read that the size of the wick is not that critical since the mix is only going to draw up and hold onto so much water, depending on the ability of the mix ingredients to draw and retain water.

In my opinion, larger diameter wicks will draw water faster than a smaller wick, but once the potting mix reaches a certain saturation point the wicking process will probably slow down. I am thinking that what is more critical than the specific wicking technique is ensuring the proper ratio of peat/perlite/vermiculite ingredients and making sure that the mix is light and not capable of holding too much water and allows for ample air in the mix for the roots. If the mix is not capable of drawing a lot of water and holding on to it, like a mix of 100 % peat would be, then there should not be a problem regardless of how you configure the wick in the pot.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 6:16PM
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Dora -
I agree with Curtis. The soil is what matters. I have used a 1-1-1 mix successfully for many years, but lately I have been adding extra perlite to that. It is now about 2-1-1 perlite-peat-vermiculite with about 1 T of dolomite lime per quart of peat in the mix. If the soil is light enough, it will not hold too much water regardless of wicking technique. That said, I use a pretty big wick (small wicks sometimes dry out on me). I use a 1" wide strip of nylon knee-hi sock for my wicks. Works great. This fabric is a little heavier than pantyhose (think nylon tights). I always have this material around. I thread my wicks all the way through the pots to the top. I have left the ends above the potting soil. Doesn't seem to matter any. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 11:03PM
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I do it just a little bit differently. First of all, I use a 1-1-1 mix with about another 1/2 of perlite. I started using acrylic yarn after a couple of years of using pieces of nylon hose. I was having too many wicks stop working even when there was water in the reservoir.

I bring the yarn up through the hole, loop it around the bottom, and then place a scoop of mix to hold it. I don't put a layer of perlite on the very bottom. I then pot as I normally would, water in, and place on the reservoir or bag it, depending on how much I've disturbed the roots.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 12:34AM
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I am new here and I do have to admit I'm still trying to find my way around in this Forum. But I'm so happy to have found y'all because I have all kinds of questions that I haven't been able to find the answers to as of yet.

I think I understand everything that's being explained here (not my language so I do miss things ocasionaly) but I really can use some pictures or drawings as back up for all explanations. So, if anyone knows of any available please let me know.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 4:34PM
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Our study group is working on this sheet next week to finalize it and I'd be happy to share when we get it done. If you'd like to email me through my profile on this message board, I'll be glad to send it to you once it is completed.

Welcome to the board.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 6:36AM
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Just wanted to get this on top for new people....

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 9:19PM
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As someone new to AVs (other than the one I grew for years and couldn't figure out why the lower leaves would die and the stem kept getting longer....), these types of posts are greatly appreciate.

Dora, if you do have that drawing still, I'd love to have it. Let me know, please, and if you do I will email you.

Thank you.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 1:48AM
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