Are Self-Watering Planters Safe for Your Houseplants? - Backyard Boss
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Are Self-Watering Planters Safe for Your Houseplants?

Gardening is a great way to reconnect with nature and experiment with your green thumb. But, if you’re juggling many different things, you might have thought about investing in self-watering planters for your houseplants.

If your job requires you to travel or work long hours at the office, self-watering planters can save you from requesting a friend or neighbor to help water your plants. With self-watering planters, you no longer have to worry about under or overwatering your plants. But are they safe for your houseplants?

To answer this question, learn what they are, their benefits, and their drawbacks before investing in one (or more). You’ll also find some of the best self-watering planters you can buy for your houseplants if you don’t have the time to DIY one.

What are Self-Watering Planters?

indoor plants are housed in self-watering pots fitted with a water indicator .
Image credits: Adil Celebiyev StokPhoto via Shutterstock

Do self-watering planters water your plants exactly as you do but without you doing it?!

Self-watering planters are a pot with a water reservoir, a wicking system, and a growing bed. Despite their name, they don’t water the houseplants themselves. The water reservoir size will depend on the size of the pot, i.e., the bigger the pot, the bigger the reservoir. Bigger containers can hold up to 5 gallons, while smaller containers can hold as little as 1 gallon.

Sometimes there’s an indicator on the reservoir or the pot that tells you how much water is left. The pot also has a fill tube to add water to the reservoir. To keep your houseplants safe from fungi, insects, and waterborne pathogens, invest in a self-watering planter with a capped-fill tube you can close after filling the reservoir.

But, suppose you fill the reservoir, and it rains. Will the extra water affect your plants? All self-watering planters have an overflow mechanism that drains out excess water, so your plants don’t experience wet feet. You won’t need to worry about root rot unless this mechanism is faulty.

Your self-watering planter will also come with an overflow drainage hole. You should unplug it to drain the leftover water, especially during cold winter if the water can freeze.

So, How Do They Work?

There are only two ways self-watering containers work, and they are both on a capillary basis.

  1. One end of the wick is submerged in the water; the other is directly in contact with the soil inside the container. The wick sucks up water and delivers it straight to the soil that the plant absorbs.
  2. A small part of the growing box is submerged in the water. The water from the wet soil gets sucked up and, through capillary action, moves through the potting mix.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-Watering Planters

Image credits: nikkytok via Shutterstock

Self-watering planters are great, and while they do have benefits, there are some drawbacks you need to consider, too.

Advantages

Self-watering planters are a fantastic way to grow many plants, especially those that require consistent moisture for healthy growth and a bountiful harvest. One of the most common indoor gardening mistakes is overwatering your plants. Gardeners who often over- or underwater their plants will benefit from using self-watering planters, as they won’t have to worry about either root rot or dry roots.

Self-watering planters are also quite versatile. Of course, this isn’t to encourage you to fill it up and forget your plant. But you can place your self-watering planter in a difficult-to-water spot in your home and rest easy your plant will be okay.

If your job demands that you work long hours or travel often, self-watering planters ensure your plants won’t suffer from dehydration while you’re away. 

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, if your plant loves moist soils, it may struggle with the self-watering planter’s bottom-down watering system. You may be tempted to spray water on your plant to keep it moist, but this could invite fungus and diseases.

Self-watering planters are not the best choice for people living in humid environments. This is because the planter can’t detect the water vapor the soil has already absorbed from the air’s absolute humidity. That inability can lead to overwatering, which would then cause root rot that’s fatal for most plants.

Lastly, self-watering planters can be quite pricey compared to normal pots with drainage holes. If your plants must remain alive and happy regardless of your presence, you may want to budget for them.

In A Nutshell

Advantages Disadvantages
Prevents under and overwatering Bottom-down watering system
Provides versatility Not great for humid environments
Cares for your plants when you’re away Can be pricey

So, Are Self-Watering Planters Safe for Your Houseplants?

red indicator of self watering planter pot, close-up view
Image credits: nikkytok via Shutterstock

Yes, self-watering planters are safe for your houseplants; however, consider a few things beforehand.

Self-watering planters are great for most plants but don’t use them for plants that prefer drier soils, like succulents and cacti, or those that prefer moist soils, like peace lilies, for example.

You should also consider your climatic conditions. For example, if you live in a very dry climate and experience frequent droughts, self-watering planters are a great addition to your garden. On the other hand, if you live in a humid place, self-watering planters will do your houseplants more harm than good.

DIY Your Own Self-Watering Planter for Houseplants

Craft Activities Self watering pot by reuse plastic bottle. Recycle ideas. Environmental Concept, houseplants
Image credits: Various images via Shutterstock

You can quickly and easily DIY your own self-watering planter for your houseplants. All you need is a bottle, scissors, some string or yarn, and potting soil.

  1. Cut the top third of your bottle and even up the edges.
  2. Make a hole through the bottle cap and put the string or yarn through it.
  3. Fill the bottom quarter of the bottle with water.
  4. Place the other part with the cap down, so the yarn hangs into the water.
  5. Add the potting soil and the plant or seed.

Remember, if you’re planting a seed, you’ll need to water it regularly until it germinates and establishes a root system.

Best Self-Watering Planters for 2022

If you don’t have the time to DIY, or you’re growing bigger plants that require bigger self-watering pots,  consider the following self-watering pots for your houseplants. These planters make great gifts for people who love gardening but don’t have the time for consistent watering!

PRODUCT FEATURES
HBServices USA Self Watering Planter - Are Self-Watering Planters Safe for Your Houseplants?HBServices USA Self Watering Planter
  • Available Sizes: 6 Inches to 12 Inches
  • Max Water Capacity: 3.6 Gallons
  • Material & Shape: Plastic, Round
Check The Price!
Fasmov Rectangle Self Watering Planter - Are Self-Watering Planters Safe for Your Houseplants?Fasmov Rectangle Self Watering Planter
  • Available Size: 16 Inches x 5.5 Inches
  • Max Water Capacity: Unspecified
  • Material & Shape: Plastic, Rectangle
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Lechuza White Matte Self Watering Planter - Are Self-Watering Planters Safe for Your Houseplants?Lechuza White Matte Self Watering Planter
  • Available Sizes: 16 Inches to 30 Inches
  • Max Water Capacity: 2 Gallons
  • Material & Shape: Plastic, Square
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Lechuza Rectangle Self Watering Planter - Are Self-Watering Planters Safe for Your Houseplants?Lechuza Rectangle Self Watering Planter
  • Available Sizes: 20 Inches to 31 Inches
  • Max Water Capacity: 1.3 Gallons
  • Material & Shape: Plastic, Rectangle
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Lechuza High-Gloss Self Watering Planter - Are Self-Watering Planters Safe for Your Houseplants?Lechuza High-Gloss Self Watering Planter
  • Available Sizes: 6 Inches to 16 Inches
  • Max Water Capacity: 1.6 Gallons
  • Material & Shape: Resin, Round
Check The Price!

Bottoms Up!

Self-watering planters are great for people who often under or overwater their plants and those away from home or travel frequently. Although they’re convenient, can prevent root problems, and come in many different shapes and sizes, they can be pricey and unsuitable for certain plants and climates. Now you also know how to make your own self-watering planter to save costs!

Leave your experiences, thoughts, and questions in the comment section, and as always, please share!

Happy Gardening!

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