The wick system is one of the easiest hydroponic weed growing methods and it’s super easy to grasp—just picture wicks dipped into water.
Wick systems are very popular with first-time growers as their simplicity makes them great for growing cannabis indoors, especially for clandestine grows.
The simplicity of wick systems
Cannabis growers love wick systems because they require the bare minimum when it comes to watering and system maintenance, since the wicks pull water from the container in which the plants are held.
Almost anything can be turned into a container for a wick system: Split a bottle in two halves and you’ve got yourself an improvised wick system.
Even though the wick system manages itself (sort of) if you set it up the right way you’ll have way less work to do down the road.
By deciding how much water will be in the container from which the wicks pull water, you can determine for how long the plants will have water reserves.
Just like every other plant, cannabis needs light, so make sure to place your wick system in an area that gets at least 12 hours of sunlight. If not, you need to get additional lighting equipment.
Another thing to keep in mind is the air: Humidity and temperature are two very important factors.
If the air is too humid you risk exposing your plants to mold, so make sure to keep the humidity between 40-60% (ideal for all hydroponic grows). Start off with 60-70% humidity in the seedling stage and gradually taper it down to 40% as the plant matures.
The best temperature range for a hydroponic grow is from 20ºC (seedling stage) to 28ºC (flowering stage). Make sure that the differences in temperature between night and day are no more than 10ºC and ideally 5ºC.
Pros and cons of wick systems
Wick systems have several downsides:
- Plants are grown in water only, which brings the risk of a weak crop yield
- Mold can appear if the system is not often checked and cleaned
- Water has to be changed from time to time so that the supply of nutrients is constant
- Bigger plants require oxygenation
And more than a few upsides:
- Using a very porous growing medium can increase the uptake of oxygen
- Wick systems are super easy to understand and set up
- They require minimum maintenance and management
- They are the cheapest system to set up and run
- They are perfect for closet growing and almost any small growing space
Even though growing cannabis comes with certain risks, you should take it step by step and not worry about possible negative outcomes. Just like anything else in life, cannabis growing has a learning curve.
What you’ll need to set up a wick system
To make a wick system from scratch you will need to visit your local hydroponics store. As the name suggest, wick systems are all about wicks, so that’s the first thing you need to get.
Here’s a short list of things that can serve as wicks if you’re on a tight budget:
- Absorbent cotton
- Mop fibers
Wicks are just an extension of the growing medium. They pull the water from the container and deliver it to the roots. They connect the growing tray (or the net pots) with the reservoir.
With wicks covered, you’ll also need the following:
- Net pots for plants
- A tray to place the net pots in
- Growing medium: Vermiculite, coir or small expanded clay pellets
- A reservoir for the nutrient solution: this can be just a simple opaque or black bucket. The bucket must not let light through, otherwise you risk developing cultures in the nutrient solution, which may damage the plants
- Plant nutrients
How to set up a wick system (step-by-step)
Wick systems are easy to set up as they have only a few components.
- Thread the wicks through the hole at the bottom of the net pot.
- Fill the net pot with a growing medium.
- Place the pots in a way that allows them to easily reach the water reservoir (for example above it).
- Make sure that the wicks are submerged in the water.
- Line the pots in a tray and place the tray on top of the water container.
- If you choose to grow one plant per container (for example, one plant in one water bucket) you won’t need a tray, but you will need a lid which has a hole made for the pots to fit inside.
- Place a cannabis clone or a seed in the growing medium. Make sure that the clone or seed is touching the wick so that it can start pulling water from the container. If the seed is not touching the wick, it will never open so make sure you don’t make this beginner mistake.
If you want to go the extra mile and provide your plants with additional oxygen, you can always place an air rock at the bottom of the water container or at the bottom of every bucket if you decide to grow each plant separately.
As far as hydroponic systems go, wick systems are simple to make and easy to maintain, which is exactly why they should be your first choice for hydroponic growing. They are perfect for first time growers, and those that have little experience in growing weed. They beat almost any other system in small area grows, such as closets and sheds.
These systems have no moving parts, unless you decide to add an air stone into the mix, and they also don’t make any noise.
They are very economical when it comes to water and nutrients and I strongly recommend anyone looking to grow weed in a hydroponic system to test this guide and let me know how it turned out.