DIY drip watering for succulents/cacti

petrushkaOctober 21, 2013

i am trying to figure out if my succulents can be auto-watered with some kind of drip system indoors in winter , dec-jan. i have moderate to good light with 2-3 hours of mid day western sun . my temps will be about 65F day to 60F night.
so on the cool side.
i need to rig smth up for 6-8 weeks. i can't use standard drip systems that hook up to a faucet . and am not familiar with commercial drips that much - the ones with a large water-container and multi-lines. but somehow i think that they drip too much for my purposes. am i mistaken?
originally i was going to use this system for my bromeliads - they need to keep water in the throat-funnel at all times...and it needs to be fresh and not from the faucet.
but then i thought it could be applied to succulents too.
i am planning to set up a drip-bottle like they use for vivariums: from what i researched so far i can set up a drip as slow as 1 drop in 2 min. this can be halved by using a splitter.
so i calculated that in 3 days this can deliver about 100ml of water per drip (about 7tb) or with a splitter 50ml each for 2 ( about 3tb).
i can set up multiple bottles dripping in individual pots or dripping into some sort of reservoir with a wicking mat.
i could then place pure clay pots onto the wicking mat and they will absorb some water which will be then disbursed thru the walls to roots. i cannot interrupt the drip - it'll drip until it runs out of water.

i have small cacti, hawortias, aloes and euphorbias mostly in 4" unglazed clay pots.
mature large jades (about 2' high in 6-7" fully glazed clay pots) - very root bound.
and common sansevieria laurentii - mature, quite large 2-3'high in var unglazed pots 6" -7"-8".
since the temps will be on the low side i am afraid of over-watering.
i can leave it all unwatered for 6 weeks and see what happens ;).
mostly they all should be ok, i think.
i am thinking that wicking method for small 4" pots would be best. but that will create water-loss thru evaporation - which i have no idea how to estimate percentage wise. any idea, very approximate?
wicking will allow me to group sev small pots and set up 1 drip per 'box'.
at a rate of 50ml per week i will need only a pint for 2 months.
or for larger pots 100ml per week - about a quart for 2 months.
i will be setting up try-drips starting this week as a trial.
i am specifically interested in anybody's experience with succulents, not other plants. and not outside/garage/porch/etc, but in a heated indoor area.
all of my plants are in some sort of std cactus mix with perlite/bark added. farely light, but still has some peat.
my indoor humidity is farely high even in winter - around 60%, since i have many other large plants too.
the link below explains how to set up DIY drip system,
but i'll be using larger water-bottles, of course.

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY water-drip bottle

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Personally, I'd not water at all, if I'm understanding you don't have a week to ten days to observe your intended operation for that long before you leave it on its own. It all sounds plausible, however.

When in doubt about watering, it's usually better to not water succulents.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 7:57PM
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well, i actually got about 5 weeks to test the system.
but it's not going to be as low temp as in dec-jan, so plants will be absorbing more water. so i hope if i can gauge the water consumption for 4 weeks at 67F i should be able to go 6 weeks at 60-65F?
what do you think about putting unglazed clay pots on wicking mat with ultra-slow drip into reservoir to replenish water - so that the clay pots themselves will absorb some water - not the medium?
the drip will be very slow as i said - so i think that some moisture will evaporate, so that not that much will be left to be absorbed by the pots?
i also think that i can put thick wicks into passive water reservoir (no drip) and the other end curled on top of large jade/sansevieria pots on the soil outside - just to barely moisten it. some will evaporate again - and some will give the top soil some moisture. sort of like dew...
am curious, what do they do in commercial greenhouses for cacti/succulents? i got sev aloe and jades that i purchased recently - they look like they are wicked on mats! is that possible?
i even found some reference to succulent wicking mats in greenhouses - but not much detail.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 8:48PM
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