Self-watering planters provide a constant source of moisture to plants, promote their healthier growth, and allow you to water your plants less frequently. Most people who travel a lot or have busy routines feel the need to own self-watering planters. They offer convenience, water efficiency, and healthier plant growth. In this article, we will be discussing self-watering planters in general and some of the best self-watering planters you can find out there, so let’s get started.
Parts and features of self-watering planters
Not all self-watering planters have the same parts and features, but most of them include the following.
1- Planting container
A planting container is a pot that holds all the elements of the watering system.
2- Growing bed
The growing bed is the top section of the container for holding your potting soil and the plants.
3- Potting soil
Potting soil needs to be absorbent and lightweight. You can also choose non-soil growing media, such as grow stones, as a potting mix. Choose something that wicks up water consistently while providing oxygen to the plant roots.
4- Water reservoir
The water reservoir is present at the bottom of the planting container beneath the growing bed. Water reservoirs vary in size depending upon the size of the planting container. A larger planter will have a larger reservoir.
5- Wicking mechanism
The wicking mechanism is a system of delivering water to the soil and the plant roots from the reservoir via capillary action, which will be discussed in detail below.
6- Fill tube
It is used for pouring water directly into the reservoir. The opening of the fill tube is usually present at the top of the container.
7- Water level indicator
The water indicator shows the level of water in the reservoir so you’ll know when the reservoir needs to be refilled.
8- Drainage hole and plug
A drainage hole with a plug is used for draining the water out of the container at the end of the season. It is advised not to leave water in the reservoir during the winter if there’s any chance it could freeze.
See also: The Best Cutting Board with Containers
How do self-watering planters work?
Self-watering planters deliver water from the reservoir to soil and plant roots through capillary action, or wicking. Capillary action is described as the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces without the assistance of, or even in opposition to, external forces like gravity. It occurs because of intermolecular forces between the liquid and surrounding solid surfaces.
There are three wicking systems by which self-watering planters deliver water from the reservoir to soil and roots. Let’s discuss them one by one.
1- One system of bringing water to the soil is by placing a “wick” inside the planting container. One end of the wick should reach the water reservoir at the bottom and another end should extend into the soil.
The wick sucks water out of the reservoir and delivers it to the potting mix. You can choose any kind of absorbent material as wicks, such as cotton, wool, or nylon. However, it’s best to choose rot-resistant and durable wicks, such as fiberglass wicking.
2- The second system of delivering water to soil is by placing a section of the potting mix inside the water reservoir so that soil comes in direct contact with the water. Water from the wet soil in that section is then transferred up to the rest of the growing bed through capillary action.
3- Another wicking system of delivering water to soil is by placing a wicking pot between the water reservoirs and potting soil. The pot keeps the potting soil directly in contact with the water, only separated by a permeable barrier.
A wicking pot can be anything like a basket or some other perforated container. A lining of netting or perforations acts as a permeable barrier for delivering the water to the soil.
Pros and cons of self-watering planters
- Self-watering planters give you the satisfaction of being able to water your plants while you are traveling or if your busy routine doesn’t give you enough time to attend to your plants properly.
- Self-watering planters help promote the healthy growth of plants by giving them the exact amount of water according to their need.
- Self-watering planters enhance the extensive healthy growth of roots as they penetrate deep downwards to reach a water reservoir rather than growing laterally to get water from near the surface.
- They help retain nutrients. The closed system of self-watering containers keeps the nutrients within the immediate environment.
- Self-watering planters are great for conserving water. When spraying water on plants, a lot of water gets wasted or evaporated from plant leaves. Water present in the reservoir can’t evaporate to air with the dense soil covering it and goes directly to plant roots, benefiting the plant.
- They help in preventing plant diseases. For example, the leaves of tomatoes and phlox are susceptible to fungal diseases if they get wet by spraying water from above. A self-watering planter overcomes this issue by watering plants from below, leading to healthier plants.
- Self-watering planters are not suitable for large plants and trees, such as fruit trees and shrubs.
- They are more expensive than regular pots.
The best self-watering planters
Self-watering planters vary according to size, style, brand, features, appearance, and more. Here we have selected 5 of the best self-watering planters for you. Pick the one that suits you the best.
1- Lechuza: Cubico Cottage Self-Watering Planter
Lechuza’s Cubico Cottage Self-Watering Planter offers a vintage cubic shape that naturally complements various decor styles. It is a great option for indoor as well as outdoor planting as it is made up of durable frost and UV-resistant plastic. This planter is equipped with a box-shaped easy-to-lift liner to make planting simple. It has a water reservoir below and an opening at the top.
A water-level indicator is present to monitor the water level in the reservoir, making it easy to refill the reservoir when needed. It comes with a specially-formulated plant substrate filler that separates the soil in the liner from the water reservoir, helps in aerating the roots, and provides your plants with nutrition and regular moisture. It also contains a drainage plug for removing excess rainwater when installed outdoors.
2- Hydrofarm: Tomato Trellis Garden on Wheels Self-Watering Planters
This planter is particularly ideal for growing vegetables and provides strong support for climbing vegetables and flowers. It’s best for people who want a vegetable garden but don’t have enough outdoor space. It has an easy-to-fill reservoir system for delivering nutrients and water from below, preventing over and under-watering. It can hold approximately 10 gallons of media.
The sturdy trellis can expand to several feet tall to provide support to your plants as they grow. It has wheels so you can relocate the planter during unpleasant weather conditions without disturbing your plants.
3- Crescent Garden: Rim TruDrop Planter, Self-Watering Planter
This Crescent Garden planter provides a fresh modern appearance. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor spaces and is made up of 100% recyclable high-grade polyethylene that is crack-proof and fade-proof. An ingenious water reservoir can save water for up to 6 weeks.
A water indicator is present to monitor the water level, making it easy to refill the reservoir when needed. It has a water drainage hole and an overflow drain that prevents rainwater from building up. The double-wall makes this planter shockproof and protects against extreme temperatures.
4- Urbanscape Planters: Metropolitan Self-Watering Planters
Urbanscape Metropolitan Self-Watering Planter provides modern aesthetics and can brighten up any urban area. It is created from UV resistant material and has double walls, making it nearly indestructible during harsh weather conditions. An easy to fill extra-large water reservoir is present in this planter that can save water for up to 3 weeks without requiring more.
5- Torpedopot Self-Growing Planters
Our favorite planter is Torpedopot because of its 1 hour per year setup, maintenance, and patent technology. These self-watering, vertical gardening planters can be automated by using a timer or data acquisition test and control station after setting up the entire system of planters.
The Torpedopot helps in automating and regulating the amount of water and nutrients required for your plants. These planters provide a sustainable environment to plants, enabling them to achieve their full potential. The Torpedopot also creates optimal conditions for decomposition to occur and provides a suitable environment for your plants to develop their microflora. They improve the biological and chemical processes that affect plant productivity, thus, increasing yields.
The Torpedopot is made of recycled propylene and is UV resistant. It has a red flexible transfer hose that connects to the inlet at the back of the Torpedopot. It is used for delivering water and nutrients to the top planter (Torpedo) and the bottom planter (Base) by using dual control knobs present on the front of the base planter.
A saturation hose, which runs around the rim of the base planter and passes through the center of the Torpedo, is involved in the dispersion of water and nutrients directly to the plant’s roots. The hose has a timer in order to schedule feeding intervals.
A single spigot attached to the pot allows you to connect a hose for watering your plants, washing your hands, or drinking clean water. A composting chamber is present at the bottom of the planter designed to convert organics into compost.
Before filling the planter with soil, add any material for decomposition, like food wastes, etc., in the chamber. Organic material acts as food for organisms that are involved in accelerating plant growth and development. A stabilization plate is present at the bottom of the planter to prevent the planter from tipping over on windy days.
Your role is just adding soil and seeds or seedlings into your self-watering planter, turning it on, choosing feeding schedules, and enjoying the growth for the rest of the season. You can grow a lot of fruits, vegetables, and herbs without even touching the ground.
Self-watering planters are a great option as they are extremely easy to maintain and you don’t have to constantly attend to your plants for watering as they will be getting the proper amount of moisture from these planters. They are an ideal option for people who travel a lot or people with a very busy routine.
In this article, we have provided you a list of some of the best self-watering planters. We hope you found the ones best suited for you.