Hydration in a stick
Westerlay Orchids has taken an extra step to keep its flowers hydrated.
The Carpinteria company has started to place SmartWick, a self-watering system, in the Bloom Haus premium orchids it sells to stores.
SmartWick is a stick made from fiberglass or a similar material that goes inside a potted plant and pulls water to the roots, Westerlay Orchids owner and president Toine Overgaag told the News-Press.
He said SmartWick is being placed in orchids in Ralphs and other Kroger Co. stores and will be in orchids later this summer in Trader Joe’s and Albertsons.
The stick extends through the dirt and a hole in the bottom of a decorative pot. The stick draws water up from the reservoir below the pot. Westerlay Orchids recommends pouring 3 to 5 ounces of water into the pot when roots turn gray — once a week.
Mr. Overgaag, 47, explained the system, which is manufactured by a Dutch company, works because of capillary action — the ability of water to defy gravity.
“Think about if you’re in a restaurant, and you have a paper or cloth napkin. If you were to put it in a half cup of water, what happens? It doesn’t just stay wet where it’s touching the water,” Mr. Overgaag said.
He noted the water moves throughout the napkin in a process similar to that for SmartWick, which is useful for plants in general and orchids in particular.
“The reason it works so well for orchids is that orchids want just a little bit of water,” Mr. Overgaag explained. “It keeps a low but constant level of hydration for a much longer time.”
He said stores and customers alike benefit from the self-watering system.
“We want to make sure that when plants are in the store for a week or so, they stay nice and hydrated,” Mr. Overgaag said. “For customers, it makes taking care of the product at the home much, much easier.”
He said Westerlay Orchids isn’t charging stores extra for the presence of SmartWick in its pots and expects the volume of flowers sold will cover his company’s costs.
Mr. Overgaag said his company started testing SmartWick last fall after hearing about the Dutch product from a vendor in The Netherlands, where a company started to use the technology for plants a couple of years ago.
He gives the SmartWick high marks. “I don’t think there are any downsides to it.”
For more information about SmartWicks, call Westerlay Orchids at 684-5411, text “Wick” to 797979 or go to