Topic Progress:


  • The parts of ZipGrow Tower (0:30)
  • The ZipGrow Tower housing design, safety & function (1:32)
  • Matrix Media design, safety, & function (4:45)
  • Tower pulling example & root examination (7:44)
  • The Wicking Strip wicks water to the plants for the first few plantings. (9:43)
  • Biological surface area & specific surface area (10:45)

As you can see in the videos, the ZipGrow Tower is a housing with folded Matrix Media inside, and a wicking strip between that media that wick water up to the seedling plug. Altogether, this is the container for plant growing.


The housing

Most vertical growing tech is white. The reason for that is that white reflects light, which is necessary for conserving light (as light, and not as heat).

There is a titanium dioxide coating that keeps the towers clean by oxidizing organic matter in the presence of UV light and preventing algal growth. The housing itself is American made PVC that will last up to twenty years (and has a warranty to match that!).

The housing is also a spring housing; it squeezes the media nice and tight and holds it in place when you move the tower around. (More on ZipGrow design here)

The media

The media is Matrix Media, made from recycled water bottles. There is a silicon binding on the media which keeps it from degrading. The media is durable and will typically last five or six years. The media comes in long strips which are folded and pulled into the housing. (Watch the planting video here to see how this works.)

ZipGrow Towers are the only growing tech on the market that uses a fiber. We chose it to allow movement of the towers since the media holds roots steady and is lightweight.

See the video to understand how media is zipped in and out of the tower. As you can see, the roots of the plant have grown along the back of the tower, transforming it (in a sense) into something like a vertical NFT trough.

The wicking strip

The wicking strip is a piece of polyester felt used during the first planting before plant roots have grown to the back of the tower to wick water to the plugs. After the first planting, the plant roots themselves act as a wicking strip, and the felt is no longer needed.


If you’re going to grow organically, there are going to be a lot of organic solids in your system. With some systems, this causes anaerobic zones and kills the roots. The Matrix Media acts as a filter which captures the solids and facilitates microbial habitat to break down those solids. This is called BSA, or biological surface area.

BSA is measured in square feet. To calculate BSA, you have to know another measurement called Specific Area, which is a ratio of square feet to cubic feet. BSA is crucial if you plan on doing organic hydroponics or aquaponics because you depend on the microbes that live on the BSA to convert nutrients to plant-available forms.

(If you’re interested in organic hydroponics, I recommend watching the aquaponics course!)

ZipGrow systems have extremely high BSA due to the Matrix Media, which is fibrous. (This also gives the towers a high percolation rate.)

Upstart University

Upstart University