Self-watering pots really are a worthy investment when it comes to garden solutions. They’re easy to build/buy, easy to maintain and can quickly improve your plant health and help you to avoid a pesky root-rot problem.
Looking for a solution to help make your plant watering easier and more consistent?
Here’s our complete guide so you know what to look for when it comes to self-watering planters.
What are Self-Watering Pots?
Also known as sub-irrigation containers, self-watering planters are a great buy for novice and experienced home gardeners.
They also work remarkably well with herbs. Self-watering pots are fairly easy to construct, but there are some wonderfully stylish, commercial options available on market that are ready to use.
Do Self-Watering Pots Really Work?
When used correctly, self-watering planters are incredibly effective at maintaining moisture levels and providing your plants with just the right amount of water that they need.
Now, these pots don’t actually water themselves, they merely support a watering reservoir system that allows your plant to draw up the water they need.
For maximum effectiveness, regulate the water in the reservoir to avoid overfilling or excessive dry spells.
Using water soluble fertilizers for the water in the reservoir is also a great way to guarantee your plants pick up all the valuable nutrients they need.
How Self-Watering Planters Work
There are 4 basic elements that you’ll find across most kinds of self-watering planters, which are:
- The Growing Bed. The growing bed is the main container which houses the soil and plants.
- The Potting Soil. This is the soil that goes in the growing bed. It is recommended to use a lightweight, super-absorbent soil mixture.
- The Water Reservoir. This is the space underneath the growing bed. Modern self-watering pots will have a pipe outlet which allows you to regulate and fill your reservoir.
- Foot or Wicking System. This refers to the system that allows your plant to absorb the water from the reservoir.
There are two types of systems that enable your plant two draw up water:
A Soil Foot System
For this system, you rely on plant roots which grow down to the base of the pot and will make contact with the reservoir system.
These roots then draw up the water needed for the plant to survive.
A Wick System
A wick system is one of the more common applications for self-watering pots. This is where the water is drawn up by a wick.
Through capillary action, the intermolecular attraction of liquids, a simple string or rope will suck water up into the soil of the plant. When the soil is moist, it stops.
Wick systems are great for plants like roses who require a steadily maintained level of moisture.
Wick systems don’t work well for succulents as they’ll need their soil to dry out properly between watering. However, a soil-foot system will work just fine.For plants like succulents or potatoes, that prefer dry, well-draining soil it is recommended to minimize the soil foot size by 10% to 15% to avoid waterlogging.
You will also want to use a far lighter soil mix and allow your reservoir to dry out fully before filling it up again.
How Long Do Self-Watering Pots Work?
Once your reservoir is filled, your self-watering pot will for as long as a week without any other attention. Obviously, in particularly humid or moisture-rich climates, this can be extended significantly.
As there are no real mechanics involved, a self-watering garden can last you a lifetime when maintained properly.
What is the Best Self-Watering Planter?
There are many stylish options available on market that are the best self-watering pots. These pots are manufactured to help you easily and effectively regulate your water.
Plus, some of them hide the mechanism so effectively that you won’t even notice it’s a self-watering garden.
Here’s our top 5 picks when it comes to self-watering planters:
This gorgeous planter with stylish, white plastic base is ideal for herbs, ivy, orchids or seedling plants.
It’s ideal for shelves, desktops or in your kitchen. A great option for minimalist spaces.
A great option for fruit and vegetable seedling, flowers and herbs. With passive hydroponic action this planter will help to maintain an ideal balance of oxygen and water around the root zone.
With a built-in water-level indicator, you won’t need to worry about maintaining your levels.
A sleek and elegant choice to compliment your home's aesthetic.
Not only does this self-watering pot come in a variety of cool colors, but it’s super lightweight and elegant.
The incorporated system generates maximum oxygen and moisture to ensure fast growing plants, plus a sleek water meter so you can make sure your plants stay happy.
With award-winning design, this pot is ideal for your home, office and even outdoors.
This low maintenance, plastic planter pot Is perfect for window sills and counters. Plant multiple pretty plants or herbs in this minimalist design planter.
It comes with a hydro-felt pad ideal for plant self-absorption. A highly-functional planter for any space.
This terrifically tall planter is great for outdoors, on your patio or in your garden.
Reaching 76.2 cm in height it’s beautifully patterned self-watering planter that can fit into your home garden aesthetic.
It’s also lightweight so easy to maneuver and move around.
Self-Watering Pots Pros and Cons
So, by now you’re perhaps wondering if a self-watering pot really is worth it. Most significantly, if maintained a self-watering system can help you save a lot of time.
Here’s a quick look at the self-watering pots pros and cons:
It Improves Water Drainage. Self-watering pots actually decrease the chances of root rot as water is given more space to drain and is only replenished when needed.
It’s Resource Efficiency. You can make sure your plant is actually making use of the water you give it and as such you avoid any waste of water.
It Encourages Root Growth. Roots will grow looking for the water reservoir, so you’ll find a significant improvement in root growth.
You’ll Have Healthier Plants. Not only will you avoid rot, but your plants will get only clean water into which you can easily add plant food, fertilizer or salts.
It’s Convenient. You won’t have to panic, think of the last time you’ve watered and how much to give, simply keep your reservoir at the right level for your plants and the pot will do the rest.
All Nutrients Remain in Soil. As the water-source is below the plant, valuable minerals and fertilizers are not washed out of the soil with watering.
Restrictive. Obviously, you can generally only plant one plant per pot. For a full self-watering garden, it can become expensive.
Soil Temperature Control. Soil temperature can vary far more than if your plants are planted in the ground. Unless UV protected, avoid keeping your pots in full-sun.
Not an Ideal Outdoor Option. Leaving the soil to be exposed to things like rain, where the water would come from above the Soil, it can cause water-logging and rot.
How Do You Make A Self-Watering Pot?
If you’re a DIY fanatic or not interested in buying a sleek and stylish manufactured pot, you do have the option of making one from home.
- 1 x Medium to Large Planter Pot
- 1 x 15 cm Overflow Pipe (Plastic or Metal)
- 2 x Recycled Plastic Bottles (To fit horizontally at pot base)
- 1 x Watering Pipe (about 4cm in diameter)
- Scrap shade cloth or weed guard.
- A drill.
Step by Step Procedure
- Seal the holes at the base of the pot. Be sure the seal is airtight to avoid any water leakage.
- Drill a large hole just above the line where the reservoir would start for the overflow pipe. Insert the pipe into the hole so approximately 7.5cm are inside the pot and 7.5cm are sticking out of the pot.
- Drill small holes all over the plastic holes. The number or holes and size will depend on what you’re planting. For plants that prefer dry soil, do smaller holes and less of them. Then, place horizontally at the base of the pot.
- Cover the bottles with a few layers of shade cloth, ensuring to tuck the sides. Your aim is to avoid allowing any soil into the reservoir. Still, you won’t want it to be overly thick, either.
- Make a hole in the cloth for the watering pipe and insert it vertically into the hole. Securing the base between the two bottles.
- Fill the rest of the pot with soil, leaving the watering pipe visible.
- Plant seeds or seedlings, fill up your reservoir, and you’re ready to go!
Summing-Up Best Self-Watering Pots for 2021
So, there you have it, everything you need to know about the best self-watering pots and how to use them or even make your own.
When weighing up the self-watering pots pros and cons, be sure to remember that these pots can last a really long time when looked after properly.
For easy, consistent watering for your indoor plants, invest a self-watering pot.