Wicking Trays:

Somebody always comes up with a better mousetrap!

Somebody always comes up with a better mousetrap!

I’ve been trying to come up with an effective wicking method to water my African violets FOREVER! I’d done the single plant per little container where I bought Reditainer Deli Food Storage Containers with Lids, 8-Ounce, 40-Packs from Amazon. I would then go to the ENORMOUS trouble of cutting out holes in all those lids and then add something to the bottom of each container to support the pot so they wouldn’t sit in the water. OMG, what a pain!

I’d also put all the plants in trays or little “re-purposed” meat trays, sub-irrigated pots, anything and everything to keep these guys watered all the time. Now, products like Oyama pots I didn’t go for because of the cost when you multiply that by the insane amount of plants I have. I have over a hundred plants and popular as those products might be, the COST is way out of my reach.

Then, the light shined down upon me when I read an article published in African Violet Magazine’s May/June issue, #69, and it became my saving grace!! The clouds parted and the sun streams poured down upon my hungry soul!!  Yes, it was THAT life-changing for me! It was a short article by Pat Hancock, the wonderful woman behind buckeyeviolets.com.  The perfect title of the article, “A Better Way to Water”! YES!!

She used Perma-Nest plant trays and egg crate plastic sheets with black felt for the capillary matting and BOOM, wicking trays!  I found 10 Mondi Black & White Premium 10″ x 20″ Propagation Trays for $46.99 from Ebay. These are wonderfully sturdy trays with no holes, of course! I needed something that could stand up to being lifted and moved if necessary while water was in them. They have worked beautifully!  They hold almost a gallon of liquid under the egg crate.

The egg create is placed on hot glued-in supports that hold it about an inch and a half from the bottom. The black felt, purchased from WalMart, forms the capillary matting. I cut out an opening in one corner to allow my “water level float” to be visible so I’d know when the tray is low on fluid. The float is nothing more than a wine cork sliced into ½ inch disks with a toothpick inserted in the center. The toothpick is marked with a low line and a “full” line so at a glance I know who needs water without having to play “bob the float”! High-tech, huh?!

These trays, outfitted like this have kept all of my wicked plants beautifully watered and even ones that have no wick have stayed watered with just the small contact they have through the drainage holes! I love these trays. I no longer have plants hiding in the back of my shelves that I don’t know are too dry because everybody is kept well watered and fed with this foolproof system.

I’m so glad I found this article. There’s always room to learn something new and there’s always a way to build a better mousetrap!


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