How to Garden With Hydroponic Plants


Hydroponics is a method of cultivating plants without using soil as a foundation. Hydroponic gardens have been around since ancient times; Marco Polo wrote in his journal about how the Chinese used water as a medium to grow plants. This technique allows gardening to be more versatile, because plants can be kept almost anywhere. There are six main styles of hydroponic systems; the simplest is the Wick system.

Step 1

Assemble the Wick hydroponics system by placing a submersible air stone into the reservoir. Attach one end of the airline into the air stone and the other into the external air pump; this will supply oxygen to the water. Fill the reservoir with clean tap water.

Step 2

Test the water for pH to achieve an ideal balance for a viable environment. Read the results and make changes as needed; phosphoric acid lowers the pH level, and potassium hydroxide raises it. Keep the pH level within a proper range for ideal growing conditions--between 5.5 and 6.5.

Step 3

Measure the premixed hydroponic nutrients according to the instructions on the nutrient packet. Stir the hydroponic nutrients into the water in the reservoir. Cut the nylon rope into 1- to 2-feet lengths; this will act as a wick. Allow the remaining dry section of the rope to hang over the side of the reservoir.

Step 4

Thread the wicks through the holes in the bottom of the growing tray. Fill the tray with equal amounts of the growing mediums perlite and vermiculite, switching between the two types of hydroponic mediums.

Step 5

Remove plant seedlings from their containers and gently shake the dirt off the roots. Wash the seedlings' roots with water to ensure that all soil particles are gone. Place the small plants 6 to 8 inches apart, and space the larger plants 10 to 12 inches apart. Insert the seedlings into pen-sized holes in the perlite and vermiculite mediums and cover the holes.

Step 6

Hang the indoor metal halide light above the wick hydroponic system. Read the instruction packets for the plant seedlings so the plants can gain the proper amount of direct light. Remember to monitor the water level in the reservoir and add nutrients when the water level drops.

Tips and Warnings

  • Not all plants thrive on a constant supply of water; this is a major disadvantage of the wick hydroponic system. The slow delivery of the nutrient solution via the wicks is not ideal for fast-producing plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Submersible air stone
  • Reservoir
  • Airline
  • External air pump
  • water
  • water pH test
  • Potassium hydroxide
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Premixed hydroponic nutrients
  • Nylon rope
  • Growing tray
  • Perlite
  • Vermiculite
  • 2" to 3" plant seedlings
  • Metal halide lights


  • Hydroponic Gardening: The Wick Hydroponic System
  • Greentrees Hydroponics: Hydroponic Gardening for Beginners
  • K12 Hawaii: Starting a Simple Hydroponic Garden
  • Eco Sustainable Village: Hydroponics/Aerophonics
  • Homemade Hydroponics: Wick Based Hydroponic Systems

Who Can Help

  • Progressive Gardens: Hydroponics and Organics
  • Hydroponics-Simplified: Wick Hydroponics Setting Up a Wick System
  • Easy Hydroponics: Types of Hydroponic Lighting
Keywords: wick hydroponic system, gardening without soil, hydroponic plant mediums, hydroponic gardening

About this Author

Since May 2009, Christina Delegans-Bunch has been pursuing her career as a professional writer. Her work has been published on eHow and GardenGuides. She holds a certification in floral designing and wedding consultation from Harcourt Extended Learning.