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Self-Watering Planters: How to Use Them & How They Work

by sorin ciovica on August 21, 2023

If you're aiming to incorporate vibrant plants into your decor without the commitment of regular watering, a self-watering planter could be the ideal solution. These innovative pots draw moisture from bottom reservoirs, self-regulating their hydration needs. Your task is simply to replenish the reservoir when it runs dry. Particularly advantageous for plant care during your absence or amidst a hectic routine, these pots offer convenience. Continue reading to grasp the mechanics behind self-watering planters and to discover how they can elevate your plant-care approach.

Essential Insights to Keep in Mind

  • When using a self-watering pot, plant your greenery in the upper or inner compartment using damp potting mix.
  • During the initial use of your self-watering pot, water the topsoil to help the soil around the plant roots settle.
  • Ensure the lower reservoir is refilled whenever it becomes empty to maintain proper plant hydration.
  • The mechanism of self-watering pots involves the upward movement of water from the reservoir into the soil. This water absorption occurs either directly or through capillary action via a wick.

Filling and Using a Self-Watering Pot

 

1. Secure the water reservoir beneath the pot.
  • Examine the components comprising your self-watering pot. Identify the bottom reservoir designed for water storage, and the planting pot featuring holes (or a wick) for your actual plant placement.
  • Position the planting pot atop the reservoir, ensuring a stable connection.
  • In certain self-watering planters, the reservoir constitutes an outer pot, while the planting pot is positioned within it.

 

2. Introduce Moist Potting Mix to the Pot's Base
  • Opt for a standard potting mix suitable for your plants. Dampen the mix slightly and allocate it to occupy the lower third of the pot. Maintain a loose consistency of the potting soil, refraining from compacting it. This promotes effortless growth for your plant's roots and facilitates swift water movement within the soil.
  • Enhance nutrient content and drainage by incorporating a blend of 1 part compost and 1 part perlite into your potting mix.
  • In cases where your self-watering pot features a fabric wick, ensure it is held upright during the soil-filling process. This positioning facilitates higher water dispersion within the pot.

 

3. Immerse Your Plants into the Soil
  • Carefully loosen the soil around your plant's roots and introduce it into the pot. Surround the plant roots with potting mix until it's positioned approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) below the rim of the pot.
  • Gently pat down the soil around your plant, maintaining a light touch to avoid excessive compaction.
  • This approach facilitates optimal root establishment.

4. Hydrate Your Plant from Above for Soil Compaction
  • To ensure optimal soil-to-root contact, address the air pockets present in the soil. During the initial watering of your self-watering pot, apply water directly onto the soil. As the soil compacts, assess for any depressions within the pot's soil level. If identified, augment those areas with additional potting mix and administer another round of watering.

5. Ensure Full Reservoir Capacity

  • Examine the reservoir located at the base of your self-watering planter, and top it up if it's not entirely filled. Often, the reservoir is designed with transparency, enabling you to gauge the water level visually, or it might feature a fill gauge indicating the remaining water volume. Replenish your self-watering pot's reservoir through the fill tube protruding from the pot's side or by pouring water into a spout integrated into the reservoir's side. Sustain the reservoir's water level by refilling it whenever it dips.
  • The frequency of refilling will vary based on your plant's water requirements, ranging from a few days to several weeks.

How do self-watering pots work?

Water Progresses via Wick, Nourishing the Soil
In self-watering pots equipped with a fabric wick, the lower end of the wick remains immersed in the reservoir's water. Moisture ascends through the wick, reaching the base of the pot and subsequently permeating the soil. This continuous moisture transmission, reliant on the reservoir's water availability, ensures the wick remains damp, upholding a uniform level of soil moisture.

Pot Segment Engages with Reservoir for Water Uptake
Certain pots are designed with a section that extends beneath the pot's base, consistently submerged in the water reservoir. Through capillary action, the soil draws water upwards, facilitating nourishment for the plant's roots and encouraging their deeper penetration into the pot

What are the benefits of self-watering pots?

Enhanced Watering Convenience
For plants demanding daily hydration, maintaining a consistent watering routine can be challenging amidst a hectic schedule. By using a self-watering pot, your plant becomes self-reliant in drawing up water as needed, necessitating your intervention solely when the reservoir requires replenishment.

Enhanced Water Conservation
Watering from above can lead to water loss through evaporation before it reaches the plant's roots. Self-watering pots, however, deliver moisture from below, allowing your plant to uptake only the necessary amount. Additionally, the risk of overwatering is mitigated, as any surplus water is efficiently directed back into the reservoir.
Diminished Pest and Fungus Vulnerability
Maintaining consistently moist topsoil can create a favorable environment for fungus growth and pest infestations. By utilizing a self-watering pot's bottom-up moisture delivery, the top layer of soil remains dry, thereby minimizing the risk of fungus formation and deterring pests. This approach contributes to your plants' well-being over the entirety of the growing season.


What plants work best in self-watering pots?

Herbs
Self-watering pots are particularly beneficial for herb gardens, which typically have higher water requirements. Experiment with cultivating herbs like basil, cilantro, and mint within self-watering pots to establish a convenient and flourishing herb garden right on your windowsill. 

Ferns
Ferns often experience dryness when potted due to their substantial water needs for lush foliage. Fortunately, a sizeable self-watering pot can rescue them by supplying the ample water they demand, promoting their healthy growth and vibrancy.

Begonias
Begonias, renowned for their exquisite blooms, flourish in consistently moist soil. Employing a self-watering pot is an ideal strategy to safeguard them against dehydration. Moreover, these pots aid in averting the risk of overwatering, a critical concern for begonias, as they are susceptible to root rot.

African Violets
Watering African Violets from above can sometimes lead to rot issues. Yet, they thrive in self-watering planters that facilitate upward moisture wicking. By opting for this method, your African violets will showcase their beauty throughout the growing season, all while being shielded from the risk of disease.

 

Snake Plants
Snake Plants are renowned for their low water requirements, making them an excellent fit for self-watering pots that need infrequent refills. Once you replenish the reservoir, your snake plant can thrive for a week or even two without necessitating additional watering, offering a hassle-free plant care experience.

 

Ready to witness the magic? Try our self-watering pots today and experience the joy of hassle-free plant care. Your plants will thank you, and your space will flourish like never before.

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