Using Wicks for Watering Plants

Thank you for the detailed explanation on using wicks for watering plants when away. I live the the United Kingdom and I have had a lot of frustration trying to get a suitable material to use as a wick with my used/saved milk jugs which I intend to use as my water reservoir.


Please could you be kind to recommend where I can get these or alternative materials and how to use them.
Thank you.

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June 28, 20180 found this helpful

A length of thick cotton string would work well.

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June 28, 20180 found this helpful

They sell wicks online like on Amazon:

This site has homemade solutions, which was my go to as I don't like to buy new when I have something I can give a second or third or fourth life to.

It worked, but I stopped using it I thought it gave off a musty/mildewey smell from the wet shirts. Perhaps I was doing something wrong. For me, I just went back to a regular watering...which works for me.


Hope you find a system that works for you!

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June 28, 20180 found this helpful

I do not know how elaborate a self-watering system you plan to make and that in itself, may determine the type of wick material you will need.

  • In the past, I have used a simple wick system when I was going to be a away for a few days and had some houseplants that needed attention but mine was never intended for long term use.
  • I just used a bucket of water (placed a little higher than plants) in the center of my shower and placed potted plants close by and ran weighted (I used heavy nuts/bolts to weigh down one end) thick white shoe laces to each plant.
  • The nut/bolt held down the string in the water and I just used anything handy to make the string stay in the potted plant.
  • If I was away longer than expected, my son would replace the water in the bucket (or turn on the shower) and it worked for me.
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  • I expect you plan to use this for a longer period of time so you will need more wick material.
  • One thing to remember; Cotton is a commonly recommended wicking material, but some warn that natural materials, like cotton, may rot or contract fungus easily. Wicking materials less likely to encounter this problem include nylon and acrylic.
  • The very best thing that I found was clothes line. You can purchase it almost anywhere (I feel sure they have clothes line in the UK) or order it online from several different sources. You may have to do a little searching but you can buy clothes line rope in cotton, nylon or polyester. Cotton or nylon are good but not so sure about polyester as it may not soak up the water as well as other material.
  • Here is an ad for wicking on Amazon.
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  • The following may work okay but it does not have good reviews.
  • When I was younger we used whatever was available and since we had kerosene heaters we always had wicks available and after some thought, I found a link for even this (and it is thick and may be even better).

Note: Plants that require excellent drainage, like orchids, succulents and cacti, may not be appropriate for this type of watering.

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