Many people love plants but forget to take care of them due to their busy routines. And we all know negligence in most cases results in the death of the plant. Do you travel often and not have friendly neighbors who can water your plants in your absence? Or your work schedule doesn’t spare enough time to tend to the watering needs of your indoor plants. Then, worry no more because, in such situations, self-watering pots are perfect for your indoor plants.
Modern technology has introduced self-watering containers, which store water and then supply it to plants when needed. Your plants stay fresh and hydrated without much hard work. Is not it exciting? Furthermore, once you buy these excellent self-catering pots, there will be no end to your beautiful gardening experience. But are self-watering pots suitable for indoor plants? Can indoor plants survive in these pots? Let’s dig further into this!
What are Self-Watering Pots?
As the name indicates, self-watering containers provide water to the potting soil. However, it does not mean that the pot waters the plant, but it has a system that supplies continuous moisture into the potting soil without any human help. The design and style vary according to the manufacturer, but every self-watering container has the same basic parts and working.
Elements of a Self-Watering Pots:
Every self-watering pot has these four basic elements. However, many have other parts as well. But these elements make the basis of every self-watering planter.
- The growing or raising bed is the upper most part of the pot that accommodates the plant and soil.
- The potting soil acts as the medium that delivers moisture to the plant’s roots. For proper functioning, the soil should be lightweight and absorbent. You can also use a non-soil medium like perlite or grow stones for the healthy growth of your plants. Whether you choose a soil or a non-soil medium, ensure it is so lightweight that water can quickly move in it, providing enough oxygen to your plant.
- A water reservoir is the most crucial part of the self-watering pots. It is the area beneath the growing bed. You can refill this area using a vertical pipe or through the hole at the side of the pot. The location of the water reservoir depends upon the planter you’ve bought. Sometimes, the growing bed is separated from the reservoir using a lid or container in the same pot. Other times, the self-watering pots come with an inner pot for raising area or bed and an outer pot for water storage.
- The wicking or capillary system consists of a cord of highly absorbent material like cotton, which is attached to the inner pot and submerged in the water reservoir. As the cord supplies water from the outer pot to your plants in the inner pot, the water travels through the capillary action in the wick or cord.
How Self-Watering Pots Work?
Self-watering pots have become quite popular due to their efficiency and ease to use. However, it is important to understand how these pots function so you can utilize them to their fullest capacity. The primary mechanism behind these pots is a process known as capillary action. In this phenomenon, wicking occurs when liquid travels from one surface to another through a medium.
Two types of designs are usually present in the market.
- A wick is placed in the inner pot that has soil and plant. At the same time, its other end is placed in the outer pot that acts as a water reservoir. The wick is usually made of cotton cord or other absorbent material. So, the capillary action occurs when the wick absorbs water from one end and transfers it to the other end in the soil mix. This way, the wick provides continuous moisture to the soil as long as the outer pot has water.
- In the other most commonly available design, the soil mix is directly in contact with the water. The inner plant container has such a design that it has hollow legs at the end. These legs reach down the water when the container is placed in the reservoir. The soil inside these legs becomes wet with continuous contact with the water and transfers moisture upwards through capillary action. In this way, the soil at the bottom remains wet but does not flood the delicate root system.
Benefits of Self-Watering Pots
Self-watering pots outnumber the typical pots due to their multiple advantages. Here are some of the essential privileges these pots give to your indoor plants:
- Less chance of Over-watering
Indoor plants need special care while watering. Some plants need to be watered twice, whereas others do well in less water. However, overwatering is never good for the plant’s health. If the soil remains wet and you keep watering the plant as per schedule, this can lead to root rot in plants.
Self-watering planters provide consistent moisture, which lessens the frequency of watering. And the continuous presence of moisture instead of water keeps the soil moist. In this way, the risk of overwatering is eliminated.
- Holds Nutrients for Long
Watering a plant in regular pot results in nutrient loss when water molecules diffuse. So, you need to add other organic materials and fertilizers to provide the plant with adequate nutrients. However, this is not the case with a self-watering pot. Since the self-watering pots are enclosed, there’s no water loss, and the nutrients remain well-retained. This helps in flourishing your plants quickly.
- Conserve Water
We are living in a world where water shortage is a massive crisis. Especially if you live in dry areas, water is your constant need. It is tough to keep your plants well-watered in such conditions. That’s where self-watering pots help you. A self-watering pot has two portions: the primary pot that holds the plant and soil and the secondary pot that holds water.
You don’t have to water your indoor plants often because the water doesn’t evaporate much and remains conserved in the reservoir. Hence, plants draw water whenever they need it. So, water usage in self-watering pots is less than in traditional pots.
- Very Convenient
If you were going on a tour and worried about the health of your multiple indoor plants, don’t stress out. You can conveniently go on your tour, and the indoor plants will remain fresh. In a self-watering pot, the plants stay healthy without watering your plants for days. These planters are very effective, and there’s little to no evaporation, so the plants don’t run out of water anytime.
- Prevents Root Rot
Many people question whether self-watering pots are suitable for indoor plants or not? This is because they think excess water at the bottom can damage the plant roots. However, this isn’t true. A self-watering pot keeps the water separate from soil and essential nutrients. The plants only suck water when they are dry.
Another benefit of self-watering pots is that they don’t let the soil dry entirely. That means there will be moisture which helps the soil to absorb nutrients more deeply. More nutrition means more growth of your lovely plants. So, quickly get your hands on any self-watering pot and enjoy lavish green plants.
- Adds an Aesthetic Touch
Not only plants but their pots also add to the overall aesthetic appeal of your indoors. A self-watering pot allows you to grow everything, from herbs to vegetables. They are available in multiple designs, and you can pick the one that perfectly blends with your indoor space. These modern technology planters make your visitors fall in love with their flawless designs.
- Keep Special Plant Species Safe
There are multiple unique plant species available in the market that need a constant dose of water. These include Water hyssop, Iris, Canna, etc. Moisture is necessary for the growth of these plant species. So, it would help if you got a self-watering planter for their safe and healthy development.
Why only a self-watering planter and not a traditional one? As we discussed earlier, a self-watering pot has extra water that fulfills the daily water dosage of plants. Hence, your unique plants stay fresh and don’t die.
- Eco-Friendly Option
Although plants keep your room’s air fresh and pure, the material of the pot also plays a vital role. Imagine placing a planter in your indoor space of toxic resins polluting the atmosphere. Sounds terrifying, no? However, that’s not the case with self-watering pots.
These self-watering pots are made of food-safe, BPA-free, premium quality high-density polypropylene (HDPE), a low-hazard plastic. Besides the toxic chemicals-free material, the pots are recyclable. That means you can take them home for your new plants too.
Problems of Self-Watering Pots
Although self-watering planters have various benefits, certain problems can also arise with them. Before investing in a self-watering pot, you must also consider these issues so you can buy the right pot for your indoor plants.
- Mineral salt buildup
The biggest problem with any self-watering container is the buildup of mineral salts in the potting mix. In regular pots, water is drained through gravitational movement through a drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. But in these self-sufficient planters, the water is drawn up and evaporated at the top. Hence, the minerals from the tap water are left behind at the top of the soil. This mineral salt build-up can become toxic for plants over time.
- Breeding ground for mosquitoes
Not all self-watering planters come with a drainage hole which is essential in these containers. Stagnant water provides perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes. So you must flush out the water from the reservoir after a few days to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
- Root rot
An overflow opening is a must in such self-sufficient pots. However, not all self-watering pots come with an overflow opening. Therefore, if the water exceeds the recommended level in the outer pot, it can deeply wet the soil. This will leads to root rot in the plants, which can be the death of your plant.
- Poor Growth Of Roots
Roots need space to grow. As there is a reservoir at the bottom of the pot, when roots grow downwards, they land in the water. But their growth becomes restricted due to a lack of oxygen. In this way, the healthy growth of plants is affected.
- Not Suitable for all plants
Not all plants can survive in these pots. Some indoor plants like dry soil like cacti and succulents. If we mistakenly place such plants in these pots, then continuously moist soil will affect their roots.
Care for Self-Watering Pots
Although self-watering containers are convenient, they require proper care and cleaning to maintain quality.
- Clean the reservoir after a few days to prevent the formation of any fungi.
- Flush the water whenever you add new water to prevent mosquito breeding in the pot.
- The mineral build-up is a common issue in these pots. Avoid using liquid fertilizers as they have high salt content. Compost is the best fertilizer for self-watering planters.
- Use very lightweight soil if you want the water to seep effectively from the outer pot to the inner pot and then to the roots.
- Always choose the pot with an overflow opening or a drainage hole to avoid root rot with excess water.
- Always research before planting because not all plants are suitable for these self-watering containers.
What Plants Are Best For Self-Watering Pots
Indoor plants that prefer evenly moist soil do well in self-watering planters:
- African Violets
- Pothos or Devil’s Ivy
- Peace lilies
- Spider plant
- Jade plants
- English ivy
- Most of the herbs
Plants Not Suitable For Self-Watering Pots
Not every plant is suitable for self-watering planters, as every plant has different watering requirements. Since the soil remains moist most of the time in these pots, plants that like dry soil are not recommended for these pots like:
These few products on Amazon are highly recommended as they have good user reviews.
This stylish set of 4 planters is a fantastic buy at just
$29.95. It has a design with a built-in water indicator. Make watering easy by getting these self-watering planters. The size is only 5″, so it is ideal for growing small plants or cuttings.
Self watering Planters with a Deep reservoir
These sturdy pots have an excellent quality transparent material. You can see the water level inside the pot anytime. You can inject the water through a port which also maintains air circulation. The main mechanism in these pots is capillary action through wicking. These are ideal for plants that like moist soil at only $16.99.
This pot is designed in a way that the legs of the inner pot are submerged in the water. The soil in the legs remains wet and transfers moisture to the dry soil. It is reliable, functional, and easy to use. Your plants will love it for sure. Get this just at $14.97
Self-watering pots aren’t less than a miracle for plant lovers who were reluctant to get any because of their busy schedules. Now, you can place your plants in them without hustling for their watering needs. We hope this article provides a detailed answer to your question: are self-watering pots suitable for indoor plants?
If you liked this article, visit our website for more articles on plants, pots, and planters.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long can I go without watering my plants?
It depends upon the size of your reservoir. The plant can go for a week without water with a fuller reservoir. However, you must check the water levels once in a while because the reservoir empties quickly in hot weather.
2. Do self-watering pots cause root rot?
These pots usually have a consistent level of moisture which is transferred to the soil through a wicking system. The roots get enough space to grow and are not in direct contact with the water. However, it can be a problem if the pots do not have an overflow opening. Without the overflow opening, the water level can rise above the recommended level causing waterlogging. This can be a potential reason for root rot in such pots.
3. What do you put in the bottom of a self-watering planter?
Putting anything like rocks at the bottom of the pot is not recommended. However, if you want that the soil does not leach out from the drainage, you can place a single rock to cover it.