Gardening in self watering pots

Ultimate Guide for Self-Watering Pot – Pros & Cons

What is a self-watering pot?

Have you ever heard about a self-watering plant pot?? It’s not something like you plant your seedlings o that pot and they will water themselves and you have to do nothing. Self-watering pot means a container which has an inner pot where you can plant your seedlings and a bottom reservoir for containing extra water. There is a connector between the two pots so that the plants can get an adequate amount of water whenever they need. The reservoirs of the self-watering pots can usually contain enough water to last for 4-5 days.

These pots are most needed for people who travel a lot and don’t get enough time to water their plants. Also if you are a lazy person like me who often forgets to water her plants then this is the best solution or you.

How do self-watering planters work?

The DIY self-watering pot has some criteria that differ from the other general pots. But it must have a water reservoir that will keep running the flow for moistening the soil. There are different types of self-watering pot. Their working mechanism is also not in the same way. Generally, you can see the there are two types of mechanism the pots show.

Reservoir at the top

If the pot has the reservoir at the top of the pot, then it will water the planters from the top. If the pot has only the bottle, then the gravity will help to do their duty. A little loosen cap will be watering the pot for 2-3 days.

In the case, the bottle has a thread then the water will use adhesion and moist the soil deep inside and also the surface. As the watering system is very slow and easy to regulate so it generally doesn’t feel to have need of the drainage. If you water from the top, then the moisture from the soil will evaporate easily.  So, you have to keep that in mind.

Reservoir at the bottom

If your self-watering pot has the water reservoir at its bottom, the moisture will come from the lower end. Just keep in mind that the reservoir doesn’t get empty. As it can keep more water than any other types of pot. When the soil becomes dry then the water from the reservoir release it.

It has another facility of vaporing. Once the water starts to evaporate the smoke comes in contact with the down part of the soil. This also depends on the potting soil quality. The moisture slowly moves up to the soil.

T his type of pot has an extra drainage hole. So, it will overflow if you pour extra water. So, the soil remains as it perfectly needs. This type of pot can keep moist the soil for a long time.

Personally, I love the self-watering pots with reservoirs in the bottom. This system seems perfect for me. But you can make your DIY self-watering planter based on your personal choice.

Ways to make self-watering pot

There are different types of self-watering pot you can make easily. But the processes will be different according to your pot and plant types. Here I will share two methods that I like the most.

Make a DIY Self-watering pot with a simple water bottle

Requirements:  A plastic water bottle, a cutter, a cotton/jute thread, potting soil.

Step 1. Make a round cut from your convenient portion from above that can place upside down into the pot.

Step 2. Make a hole in the cap as there you can enter the thread by the drill bit or hot screwdriver.

Step 3. Take a cotton/ jute thread of about 12-15 inches. You need to enter the thread through the hole you have made into the cap.

Step 4. Place the cap at the middle of the thread that it remains in the same length at both sides. After that close the cap with upper part of the bottle. Then fill the rest of the bottle with water to half of its height.

Step 5. Carefully place the upper part upside down in the way that half of the thread can reach the bottom of the bottle. Now fill half of the upper part with potting soil. At this time place the thread in the shape of the coil as it covers most of the soil. After that place a seedling plant into it. Now put some soil and fill the rest of it. At last sprinkle, some water and you see your self-watering pot is ready.

Self-Watering pot with a bucket

Requirements: A planter, Flexible perforated drain pipe, Hand full of small rock, potting mix, watering tube, Garden lime, mulching materials.

Step 1. In this way, you need to take a bucket and a flexible perforated drain pipe with close ends with pierced polythene. Then place the drain pipe at the bottom of the bucket. Then make a hole on the drain pipe to set the watering tube.

Step 2. At the side of the bucket make a small square hole at 3-3.5 inches up from the bottom. It will work as the drainage hole. Then place a hand full of the small rock on the top of it.

Step 3. Carefully fill some of them with the soil. Now make a layer by filling up 3/4th of the bucket. Then make a layer of the garden lime or dolomite with a little portion potting mix soil.

Step 4. Plant some seedlings at the edges of the pot and keep the middle part empty that you can put some fertilizers there.  In the end, you can cover the pot with different types of mulching materials like a plastic sheet, coconut fiber etc.

As your self-watering pot is ready then pour water into the watering tube and you can see that the excess water is draining from the drainage hole.

There are some other interesting tricks that you can make your as usual pot into self-watering pot. They are something like these:

Some tips & tricks to make your self-watering pots:

Trick 1- Take two sticks with the same length but 4-6 inches longer than the bottle. Now stick them with the bottle at 180 degree. Then place the bottle upside down to the pot and make a cut at the bottom in the way that can be used as the cap. Fill the bottle with water, close the cut cap and loosen the cap that makes some drop at after certain time. It can make watering the pot for 2-3 days.

Trick 2- Take a plastic water bottle. Then carefully cut the bottom of the bottle. Take a PVC/UPVC pipe and remove the cap. Make the pipe hot in the fire that you can enter the top of the bottle. Now drill the pipe into the soil and fill up the bottle with water.

Trick 3- Take a long jute thread. Bore half of the jute into the soil. Another part of it needs to be kept into a water bottle. Then you will see the thread will help to keep moist the soil in the pot.

Benefits of self-watering pots

These kind of pots are the best to grow your veggies. The plants in a self-watering pot get a consistent amount of water directly to the roots and that’s why your plants will be healthy always. Your plants will get the right amount of water every time if you plant them in a self-watering pot. Just remember to keep yourself away from overwatering the plats.

There are some other benefits as well. They are:

Retaining nutrients to your plants:

We usually plant in normal containers and when we water the plants the nutrients of soil slowly diffuse out with the molecules of water. That’s why most of the gardeners add organic fertilizers regularly to keep the nutrition level of soil balanced. Because of the closed system in the self-watering containers the nutrients can’t diffuse out and stay within the soil. There is a side jug usually attached to the containers so when there’s any overflow the water gets trapped in the jug.

You can use this water again for watering your plants and thus create a water cycle of your own. So, you won’t have to frequently fertilize the soil as well as the nutrition level will be always steady and healthy.

A healthy root growth of your plants

If there isn’t proper root growth, then most of your vegetables will result in poor fruit growth. Shallow watering is the main reason for the shallow root growth of the veggies. With self-watering pots, you can deeply water your plants without rotting of the roots.

The water flow from the bottom reservoir supplies an adequate amount of water to the roots of the plant and thus stimulates its growth. As a result, you’ll have green & healthy foliage, larger stems & branches, healthier fruits, veggies, and flowers.

Less wastage of water:

As I’m more in to save water thought I highly support this self-watering pot system for gardening. In normal pots and garden, most of the water gets evaporated. But in the self-watering planters evaporate a minimal amount of water only after direct watering from upside. The water of the inner reservoir can’t evaporate because of the densely spread soil over it. Also, the jug attached to it will retain the water so you’ll be able to pour it back onto your plants.

Watering amount for the self-watering planters is also lower. So, it saves a lot of water. The whole system retains a healthy environment for growing the plants.

Self-watering pots are time saver:

The plants of your self-watering pots can stay for several days without you putting water on them. The water cycle for this kind of planters are semi-contained and it’ll continue as long as there’s enough amount of water in the reservoir. The moisture of the soil evaporates slowly so you don’t need to worry about watering your plants frequently.

Usually, if you plant seedlings in your normal pots you need to water them at least once a day. But with these pots, you can spend even a week without watering your plants. So, it saves a lot of your time as well. You can now go on a short holiday without the stress of your plants just by filling your reservoir of the self-watering pot.

Cons of Self-watering pot

Toxic mineral salt

If you have a self-watering pot, then you definitely have to put some potting mix into it. Generally, this mix contains a huge amount of various minerals salt. In the pot, the water continuously drowning up and it is evaporated from the top of the soil.

When the water moves up the salt beneath the pot dissolve with water and also moves up. But salt it can’t evaporate like water. As a result, the concentration of the salt might become so high that may cause a fatal effect on your plants.

Breeding ground for mosquito

There is some kind of Self -watering pot that has a poor drainage system. Also, some pot has an open water reservoir. And that is the best place for breeding the mosquitos like Aedes, Pesky etc. They lay their eggs to the reserved fresh water. When they hatch they can increase their number in geometrical rate.

So, you have to keep in mind that some types of Self-watering pot can be the breeding place of mosquitos if you don’t take care of the pots regularly.

Rotting of the Roots

Few Self-watering pots have no overflow system. So, the excess of water can flood the pot or wet for a very long time. Also, the water vapor cannot find a way to go out. So, the soil is kept moist for a long period of time. So, this causes a water-logged situation and it is the principal cause of rot of the roots of your plants. Also, the soil helps to grow various types of fungus. It consumes the precious nutrition that it harmful for the plant growth.

Not for all plants thrive

Self-watering pot is not appropriate for all types of plant. Some xerophytic plants like cactus need dry soil and it cannot tolerate excess water. Though the plant will try to release the water, the continuous supply of it will lead them to death. On the other hand, some plants fall their quality in the damp soil like rosemary.

As the pot has no special facility for aeration, the root faces a lack of oxygen. If you choose such kind of plant for this pot, it can show the reverse thrive situation as you will expect.

Poor root growth

Naturally, the plant grows both up to the soil and beneath the soil. Your plant will get an infinite place above the ground. But when they will face the limitation under them the root will find the layer of fresh water and seize their growth of the root to avoid the rot. As a result, the plant will change their natural pattern. So, after a certain time, they reduce their root inhibiting their healthy growth.

Best plants for self-watering pot

There are some plants that grow very healthy and sound in the self-watering pots. Mostly the plants those love the moist soil is preferred to plant in this type of pots.

Some perennial species like Japanese Irises, Hosta spp. is useful to plant in the self-watering pot. As its a shade tolerate plant and have a high demand for water. So, the moist soil and indoor condition are very good for these types of plants. They also like to be in cool places which make them perfect for it.

Lobelia, Snowy meadowfoam are is a fast-growing annual plant that has trailing habit. So, they are also very comfortable in the hanging self-watering pot. As per the habit, they are recommended to plant in such type of pots.

Some interesting vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, cilantro, and other vegetable herbs need much water for their rapid growth. In this case, the Self-watering pot can give you the same benefits as a raised bed does. So, if you want to make your own vegetable garden with less effort and in a very convenient way then self-watering pot is one of the best solutions for it.

In the tropical zones, you can see a lot of rainfall in the monsoon season. That’s why tropical plants like coleus, peace lilies can be the right choice for it. They happily thrive in this type of pots and they also look very nice. Some of their flowering plants bloom in low light condition. Well-drained and moist soil are suitable for these plants.

Hope this article has provided you a clear idea about a self-watering pot, how you can make one for your garden and what are the best plants to grow in your own self-watering pots. So, pick the right plant for it, follow the DIY’s and tricks and just enjoy gardening!


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