How To Use Self-Watering Pots? – Plant Knowledge

Self-Watering Pots

Self-watering pots provide comfort, improved plant health, and water efficiency. These pots and planters use wicking action to distribute water from an integrated reservoir, allowing you to water your plants by simply topping off the reservoir as opposed to monitoring the soil’s moisture content and watering in accordance with each plant’s individual requirements.

The Four Basic Elements Of A Self-watering Pot

These self-watering pots always consist of the following four fundamental components, whether they are used for a single plant or a large container garden:

Potting Soil

It’s crucial to use light, absorbent potting soil if you want a self-watering pot to work properly. It may consist of soil as well as non-soil growing media such as coco coir, perlite, or grow stones.

The secret is to use a material that will continuously absorb water while also giving the plant roots plenty of oxygen.

Water Reservoir

This crucial component of a self-watering pot is situated below the growing area. Since you can’t see the reservoir, you won’t need an overflow outlet for indoor planters if you have a way to check the water level, like a viewing window or a float.

Of course, the reservoir must have a way to be refilled; this may be a vertical pipe for water to be poured in from above or an opening on the side of the container.

The growing bed and the water reservoir can be divided into two separate areas by placing a container at the bottom of the pot, creating a barrier inside the pot, or using an inner pot and an outer pot.

Growing Bed

The growing bed is the upper part of the container that holds the potting soil and the plants.

Wicking System

Water is transferred from the reservoir to the soil and then to the roots of the plants through the wicking system. To accomplish this, you can either create a wicking pot that directly contacts the water in the reservoir below or you can use wicks made of absorbent material, such as rope or strips of cloth, with one end placed in the water and the other in the soil.

Types Of Self-watering Containers

Self-watering containers come in a variety of designs, from decorative to purely functional. The more practical ones are made especially for growing vegetables in containers and for producing the highest possible yields. The generic name often used to describe utilitarian self-watering containers is grow box. Grow boxes come in a variety of brands, and there are a ton of tutorials online for making your own.

The Function Of Self-watering Containers

Self-watering pots utilize a reservoir system to function. Typically at the bottom of the container, there is a water storage tank that you fill. Extra water just drains away because there is an overflow hole. Your plants receive a constant supply of moisture that is delivered right to their roots as long as you keep the reservoir full because the soil absorbs the water from the bottom.

Self-watering containers use very little water because of the reservoir system. Due to the water’s storage away from the sun and wind, it evaporates more slowly and with less water loss than if you sprayed it directly on your plants. By feeding your plants directly through their roots, you can keep water off of their leaves, reducing the likelihood of fungus and disease.

Which Plants Should Not Be Placed In Self-watering Planters?

Because their roots don’t penetrate the soil deeply enough to benefit from capillary action, some plants with shallow roots (think succulents like snake plants and cactuses) won’t benefit from being placed in a self-watering planter. However, these plants also typically have a pretty forgiving nature and need less water anyhow. The majority of other plants (Bullene estimates a good 89% of ’em) have roots that are deep enough to thrive in these containers.

How Do Self-watering Pots Benefit You?

Utilizing these self-watering pots has three primary benefits:

  • Convenience
  • Resource efficiency
  • Plant health


Self-watering pots offer the convenience of just making sure there is water in the reservoir rather than requiring you to check the soil of each potted plant you have in order to provide water when your plants need it. This is possibly their biggest selling point.

It can take a lot of time to monitor each individual planter, especially if you have a large number of plants. The amount of water that plants require depends on many different things, including the season, the weather, the condition of the potting soil, the size of the pot, the size of the plant, and its stage of development. So you run the risk of over- or under-watering your plants when you water them on a weekly schedule rather than when they actually need it.

Water Efficiency

Utilizing self-watering pots has their water efficiency as a major benefit. These self-regulating container systems deliver water as it is consumed by the plants. There is a small amount of water loss due to evaporation, but it’s much less than the amount of loss that occurs when you pour water into the potting soil from above – especially if you cover your self-watering potting soil with a layer of mulch.

Self-Watering Pots

Plant Health

The most frequent error in plant care is overwatering, which can deprive the plant of oxygen and cause fungus and disease issues, while under-watering deprives plants of the water they require to maintain their cellular structure, transport nutrients, and perform photosynthesis. Self-watering pots can enhance the health of plants by providing exactly the amount of water they need as they need

What Are The Disadvantages Of Self-watering Pots?

Self-watering pots are great for people who are busy, they are environmentally friendly, and they can improve plant health, but there are some drawbacks to these container systems:

  • Not all plants are suited to self-watering pots: For succulents, orchids, and other plants that require their potting soil to dry out between waterings, self-watering pots are not appropriate. Root rot will develop in these kinds of plants due to the ongoing moisture.
  • In humid or rainy climates, self-watering pots don’t perform well outside: High humidity and rain will cause outdoor self-watering containers to become waterlogged. While an overflow outlet is helpful, it does not stop the excess water from entering the soil in the first place, where it can wet the soil instead of keeping it evenly moist.

Which Plants Do Self-watering Pots Suit Best?

Houseplants that prefer evenly moist soil include smaller, leafy plants such as baby’s tears, spike mosses, and coleus, as well as larger thin-leaved plants such as Boston ferns, peace lilies, and umbrella palms. Herbs, spinach, and lettuce grow well in self-watering pots.

Self-watering planters are a practical choice for plant parents who find it difficult to maintain a regular watering schedule or who travel frequently. They are suitable for the majority of plant species, are simple to use, and remove the element of guesswork from watering.