Setting Up for Wick Watering

Wick watering is fantastic! I love who ever is responsible for thinking it up! Without it I could never even consider having a collection of violets half the size I do. There are a few rules you must abide by but once you have them covered you are well on your way to enjoying a newer and easier way of growing african violets.

Soil is our first concern....

Now please do not go and get your nicely growing adult violet and expect to draw a wick up through the bottom of its pot. You are better off to start with a brand new baby, or a violet you can risk experimenting with.   

Important to note here
is that the african violets on store shelves may not be in a mix suitable for wicking.  If you wish to change an adult african violet to wick watering you must uproot the plant and shake off as much of the soil as possible and repot using a suitable soil for wick watering. 

The medium (soil) I use is equal portions of fine peatmoss, coarse vermiculite and perlite. I buy the 4litre bags and mix one of each thoroughly in a large covered container. I store this mix dry. The peat moss swells when wet and I believe the vermiculite swells a bit too. I like working with this dry because I don't
believe you can over pack the mixture as easily as when it is wet. When re-potting a violet I press the medium gently around the root ball water it down, let sit for a few minutes  then if I need a bit more mix to top the pot up I add it at this point and water it down again. This medium is light and airy and ideal for your african violet roots.
Here at the left is an example of the equipment I use. In the background is a water proof tray, just in front is what I have named a basket tray. I am sure you recognize these they give them out at the nurseries to help you carry your purchases to the car. A pot of course and about a10" length of yarn.
 The plastic rings are cut from a length of 3/4" pipe in 1 inch pieces.
insert the yarn up through a hole in the bottom of the pot.
Pull the wool up far enough to make a full circle around the bottom of your pot. This is where I would tear a small piece of paper toweling to cover the holes in the pot.
You set the pot, with a plant in it of course and let the yarn dangle down through the holes in the tray.
I use 5 rings in each tray. One on each corner and one for the center to support the basket tray above the water level.
Now each one of the violets in the basket tray have have their wicks through the holes ready to dangle in the water below. All I have to do is keep the water level up.
The wicks must be thoroughly wet before they will work properly!  Watering the new soil down as described above while the pot is sitting in a saucer will assure it is! Remember to check your wicks from time to time to make sure they do not dry out. When potting up use new wicks.
Now you have the basics.... this is an example of my system for my growing room. If you want a display violet you can buy a "cover pot" ... I like ceramic ...to hold the water and anything from a piece of pipe to a bunch of pebbles to put in the bottom of the cover pot to let the plant sit above the water level.... Remember a violets worst enemy is wet feet!!! Even a half hour sitting in water is too long for these babies. So make sure your pots are always above the water level.
Remember .... you have just set your african violet up in a soil-less mix. This means there is no food available for your plant. You must supply that on a regular basis. Fertilizer at 1/8 of the recommended strength is required in the reservoirs (cover pot or plastic tray). Remember too there is the evaporation to consider and the fertilizer does not evaporate! I recommend you rinse your reservoir out and fill fresh at least once a week.

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