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How to Use Wicks to Water Plants

Learning to water houseplants may take time as some houseplants require more water than others. If you're planning to go away on vacation, you may not know how to keep them healthy until you return. Gardeners and people with houseplants often learn tricks for keeping their plants healthy when they cannot look after them every day. Wick watering is one of the tricks of that trade. You can use a wick or a shoelace to help your plants water themselves if you have to be gone for a few weeks at a time. Read more to find out how to use wicks to water plants.


  1. 1
    Make sure your plant is already potted in a pot with a drainage hole. If it is not, you should use this opportunity of creating a wick watering system to replant it in a self-draining pot.
  2. 2
    Take your plant outside to a workbench or garden shed. You will need to make a small mess in order to set up a plant with wick. If you do not have a workbench, lay down newspapers.
  3. 3
    Gather extra soil, an extra pot, water and a wick. If you do not have a candle wick, you can use an old shoelace. Your wick can be any small, long piece of cloth that soaks up water.
    • Long candle wicks are available in most craft stores for people who make their own candles.
  4. 4
    Soak your wick or shoelace and water your house plant. Make a knot with the end of the wick or shoelace.
  5. 5
    Stick the sharp end of a pencil through the shoelace or the candle wick. You can also wrap the wick around the pencil. Make sure it is secured and then set it aside for later use.
  6. 6
    Lift the plant from its pot. If it is a large plant, you may want to ask a friend to help you, so that you will not destroy the roots.
  7. 7
    Stick the pencil with the top of the wick into the root ball of your plant. Thread the bottom of the shoelace or wick through the draining hole in the pot.
    • If you do not have a self-draining pot, use this opportunity to plant the plant you have just uprooted into a self-draining pot. Place some soil near the bottom to replace any soil lost from the original pot.
  8. 8
    Place the plant back into its pot with the wick now connected. Take care when you move the plant from now on. You do not want to tug hard and remove the wick.
  9. 9
    Place the plant above a vessel of water. For example, you can place it on a slatted board and let the wick fall into a pitcher of water. The water will climb up the wick to feed the plant.
    • This step will be slightly different for everyone, depending upon where you plan to place your plant while you are gone. You may use a drainage basket or a shelf inside, where the wick can fall unencumbered into the vessel.
  10. 10
    Fill the vessel with 16 to 32 oz. (0.47 to 0.9 l) of water before you plan to leave and the water should be wicked up into the roots of the plant while you are away. Since each plant requires a different amount of water, the root ball will soak up the water when it is in need.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Where do I purchase the wicks?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • You can buy them from local stores. I would think you would be able to find individual wicks near oil candles.
    Thanks! 5 0
  • How do I prevent water from drying out between the bottle of water and the plant? It seems as if there would be a large loss of water during the summer.
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Thread the wick inside some plastic tubing. Insert the tubing a little way into the plant container's drainage hole. Punch a hole in a plastic lid to fit the tubing through, seal the vessel with the lid.
    Thanks! 13 7
  • Can I use wicks to water raised beds?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It depends on the bed size, the plants' water needs, and other transpiration rate. But most importantly, you need to have the space, time, budget, and crafting skills. Getting enough water for vegetables, fruits and showy flowers will require a lot of wicking and bottles. I've seen people use the top of a cut in half bottle buried in the soil as watering funnels. I'm suspicious of the method because it seems likely to concentrate water at the bottom of the bed. Honestly, drip tape is your best better.
    Thanks! 4 6
  • How far up to surface of the soil in pot do I run the wick?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Capillary action becomes sluggish after you exceed 33 centimeters, ensure you keep it at 15 to 20 centimeters.
    Thanks! 1 1
  • Does this method work for orchids?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, it does. I put my pot in a flower vase large enough to hold the pot on the top of the vase and fill with water just below the pot. The water will last for more than six months.
    Thanks! 1 2
  • Is it possible to plant more than one plant in a pot for wick irrigation?
  • Do this absorb the nutrient solution?
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  • Some root damage is bound to occur when moving a plant from 1 pot to another or lifting it from its pot. Take care to be gentle and do minimal damage.
    8 Helpful?  7

Things You'll NeedEdit

  • Candle wick or old shoelace
  • Water
  • Pot with drainage hole
  • Soil
  • Newspapers
  • Water pitcher

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About This Article

171 votes - 91%
Co-authors: 12
Views: 115,407

Reader Success Stories

  • BR

    Buth Ratch

    Nov 29, 2017

    "I am trying to be crafty by creating a planter scheme for indoor plants. This helped me to set it up initially to be a wicking type that allows for proper hydration without watering my floorboards."..." more
  • BR

    B. Rose

    Jul 29, 2016

    "Was envisioning a floating garden, in a pond, to keep the deer & rabbits at bay. This seems to be the most efficient way to water the plants without pumping via solar."..." more
  • DH

    Dan H.

    Nov 21, 2016

    "It's very informative. I didn't realize that the wick should go right up into the roots. I'm trying one out with baby cilantro now."..." more
  • JR

    Judy Richards

    Nov 29, 2016

    "Thank you so much. I was looking for tips for waterwicking, and this was very informative."
  • A


    Jun 29, 2016

    "Thank you for the article. I now understand what the wick is being used for."
  • Kcs Family

    Aug 8, 2017

    "It helped me a lot to finish my project. Thanks a lot. "
  • Kcs Family

    Aug 8, 2017

    "Very useful for completing my project. Thanks a lot!"
  • A


    Feb 8, 2017

    "Really, really helpful."
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