Thanks for the wicking tip, Larry. So this is just nylon cord that can be purchased at a hardware store, or perhaps Walmart? Like the stuff you use for anchors, stuff like that? I can see how the cotton would rot. Thanks! Barb
You can also use strips of nylon stockings or knitting yarn made of artificial fibers, which is what I prefer since I mostly stopped wearing nylons. One skein of yarn lasts for years, especially since I wash them and soak them in a bleach solution with the pots when I'm repotting. I wick a lot of things, including some I don't think are recommended for wicking, but I let the reservoirs go dry for an appropriate period for things that might not like it otherwise. And of course add extra perlite.
No, not as thick as anchor rope. The nylon cord I use is around 1/16 of an inch thick.
There is a formula for figuring out how many wicks to put in a pot depending on the size of the pot. Measure the diameter of the pot and subtract one. That will give you the number of wicks that one should use per pot. Example: a 2 in. pot would take one wick. A 3 in. pot would take two wicks. A 3 1/2 inch pot would take two wicks. A 4 in. pot would take three wicks and so on. As Nancy said you will need to put some more perlite into the potting soil that you are using if you are not using a wicking soil. If you are using regular African violet soil I would use two parts African violet soil and one part perlite.
Also with African Violets and even more so for streptocarpus one should take the wick out of the reservoir and let the plant dry out about every three or four weeks. It does the plant a lot of good and will keep it from getting root rot. Anyway, that is my experience.
I hope this helps. If you have any more questions don't be afraid to ask.
I don't wick any more but I get plants from others with wicks in them. But, I don't see more than one wick. I have used double wicks in the past--like when I wicked a very water hungry Drymonia serrulata in a five gallon pot! I couldn't keep it from wilting so I wicked it and put it over a big reservoir. Then I was able to flower the giant.
Strips from nylons seem to be popular around here. Also yarn. I always used nylon cord from the hardware store. I would buy two sizes so I could vary the thickness of the wick according to the size of the pot (About the size Larry suggests or even narrower). Streps like to dry out a bit so be careful you don't keep them too wet. One way to prevent this is to use extra perlite in your potting mix.
Just so you know, I did not invent the wicking formula for the number of wicks for any given pot. I buy most of my violet and gesnariad supplies from The Violet Showcase in Denver. They were the ones who came up with the formula. They also sell a thicker nylon cord for the larger pots of 4 in. to 6 in. so they can be wicked with only one wick. I tend to have plants that are usually in pots 4 in. across and smaller so that I preferred the smaller wicking cord. I have found the formula to work very well for my plants. Under periods of brain fog I have put only one wick in a 4 in. pot and would later notice that the pot was not getting enough water. So for me it seems that the formula has some merit. When buying plants from different vendors I have seen different wicking materials. Everyone seems to have his or her favorite. I think the most important thing is to be consistent and be comfortable with the type of wicking material that you use. And, make sure that what ever you are doing that the soil does not get too soggy. Again, as Jon stated above, if the soil seems too soggy add some more perlite to it.
A little off subject. How do you like California after being an Iowa gal? Just interested.