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How Do Self Watering Pots Work?

Things are so convenient these days, and self watering pots are super trendy lately. So how do self watering pots work and what is this self-watering planter? If you are new to the indoor gardening world, welcome to the new era where pots water the plants for you. You will find out several interesting facts about self-watering planters below, so feel free to check them out.

1. What Is A Self-Watering Planter?

The name could be a little misleading because a self-watering planter does not “water” the plant for you. That would be awesome, but this type of planter provides a consistent source of moisture to the plants growing it in. This makes things more convenient for you since you can water it less frequently, which is perfect for busy people. A self-watering pot or planter is also ideal for those who live in a dry and humid area out there. You won’t have all the time to constantly water the plants on hot summer days, and the planter can help you with that.

2. Self-Watering Pot Types

When you search for self-watering pots, you will see a few different types in the results. In order to choose the right pots or your plants, you should know a few things about each type. Let’s take a look and see all common types of self-watering pots below. At least one of them matches what you look for in the best self-watering pots.

2.1 Clear Self-Watering Pot

We all know someone who doesn’t want to take out all sections of the pot to check the water level. This is the type of self-watering pot that is perfect for them due to the transparent design that it comes with. The water reservoir is clear so that you can easily see the amount of water left. Some come with beautiful and nice colors for the plant containers, which are great to have in the room. Pretty and simple, it is ideal for a number of indoor flowers and plants.

2.2 High Drainage Self-Watering Pot

This type has high drainage, which can effectively prevent water from building up while providing proper air circulation. In addition, the bottom part doubles as a saucer and stand to protect your floor from circular water stain, which is a plus. This type of self-watering pot is ideal for both flowers and plants, and it looks great in any room.

2.3 Plastic Self-Watering Pot

Plastic self-watering pots are great because they are durable and lightweight while being so easy to use. This type is perfect for small indoor plants due to the size that it often comes with. When you buy a plastic self-watering pot, look for the ones made from polypropylene plastic (PP) material. It is sturdy and supportive, and it is simply perfect for indoor plants. Normally, it waters your plants by wicking, which is a standard method.

2.4 Self-Watering Planter

Besides self-watering pots, you can also go big with self-watering planters. It is a larger and wider container that can accommodate several flowers or plants in one. Just like a self-watering pot, the planter also has two layers or two pots in one. A pot for the soil and plants has multiple slots while another layer is for excess water storage. You can use it for many places like the balcony, garden, porch, window sill, and many more.

2.5 Self-Watering Pot With Water Level Indicator

A self-watering pot with a water level indicator is convenient and easy to use. There is a red line on the indicator that lets you know the water level in the pot. Most pots of this type are not only cute and stylish but also durable and sturdy to have. Some even include organic potting mix in the set for you, which is a total plus. It could be a little pricey, but its look and quality are so worth it.

2.6 Self-Watering Seedling Tray

Besides the bigger pots, self-watering seedling trays are also available for beginners out there. There are multiple slots so that you can grow several seedlings at the same time. The design of this type of pot or tray is very adorable and eco-friendly, and it works great. So even if you are busy or forgetful, you can still see your seedlings flourish, which is awesome.

3. How Do Self Watering Pots Work?

Before we answer the question on how do self watering planters work, you should know about their structure first. Generally, a self watering pot contains:

  • Fill tube
  • Water reservoir
  • Planting container
  • Wicking mechanism
  • Water level indicator
  • Overflow hole or spout
  • Drainage hole and plug
Image Source: pinterest.com

Different brands have different appearances and styles, but all self watering pots have the same basics. The top part of the container is for the potting mix and plants, and the bottom part is the water reservoir. This reservoir varies in size, depending on the size of the container itself. There are large containers that could be as big as 5 gallons while the small ones are only 1 gallon. The larger the container also means, the less frequent, which is even more convenient for you.

So do self-watering pots work? Normally, there are 2 ways the planters move water from the reservoir into the planting container. Those include:

  • A “wick” inside the container, with one end in the water reservoir and another in the potting mix. Simply put, the wick sucks water out of the reservoir to maintain moisture in the plants and soil.
  • The planting container has a section inside the water reservoir that you can place the potting mix directly on. So it works by pulling the water from the wet mix into the planting container through capillary action. This second way is also the most common way of how self-watering pots work.

4. How To Use Self Watering Pots

A fill tube is where you pour the water into the reservoir; it could be a hole or a tube in the planter. Don’t forget to look for a tube with a cap to prevent debris or pests from getting into the reservoir. When you pour water directly into a water reservoir, the pot will wick it into the planting container above the reservoir. That way, you won’t have to regularly water your plants at all. The self-watering planter or pot will handle the job for you. You may check every week or two before adding or changing the water for your plants.

5. Self-Watering Pot Benefits & Drawbacks

Self-watering pots are convenient and easy to use, and they are also very beneficial for plants. Along with the advantages, there are also some downsides that they provide. When you know both sides, it is easier for you to decide whether self-watering pots are suitable for you or not.

5.1 Benefits

Consistent Moisture

One of the most important things that these pots provide is consistent moisture for the plants. You only have to fill the water once, and you won’t have to worry about it for the next few weeks. This also means you won’t have to constantly water your plants manually as well, which is so convenient. And if the container is big, then busy days won’t result in dead plants anymore.

Efficient Watering

Overwatering and underwatering are some of the most common problems with houseplant owners out there. You won’t have to worry about any of these when you have a self-watering pot. It ensures that your plants will get the right amount of that it needs right from the container. The best part is that it also prevents plant diseases like fungal diseases due to damp leaves or roots. It is beneficial for your plants on so many levels, all the more reasons to use it.


Manual watering normally wastes water since you have to dump away the water. With a self-watering planter, you know that you will use from one to five gallons within a few or several weeks. At the same time, you know that your plants and their roots receive all the water they need. Maybe it is not much, but it does help at some point.

5.2 Drawback

The only main drawback is that self-watering pots are not good for plants; they require daily watering. You cannot use this planter with aquatic plants that need plenty of water, like fiber-optic plants or umbrella palms at all. Self-watering planters are ideal for annuals, herbs, perennials, and vegetables, so make sure to choose the right plants.

6. Self-Watering Pot Buying Guide

Many people are new to self-watering pots, and I want to make sure that you know what to look for. You will come across so many options to choose from, and the key is to go for the best ones. Below are a few essential things to have in mind when you want to buy the best self-watering planters and pots.

6.1 Durability

A majority of self-watering pots are plastic, so they do not break easily. However, you want to make sure that the pots you choose are not flimsy because they can tip over. Along with that, check the materials to ensure that they are sturdy and thick enough. This is just to keep the pot in place when the roots start to grow and expand. A durable self-watering pot will last for years to come, and you want that.

6.2 Easy Use

Self-watering pots have to be as convenient as possible, so don’t overlook this part. When it comes to easy use, the first thing that you should focus on is the filling mechanism. If there are complicated steps to follow to refill the water, then the pots are not good enough.

Another thing to look for in the best self-watering pots is the water level indicator. It makes it easy for you to know the amount of water that remains in the container. This is an essential feature in a self-watering pot that does not have a clear or transparent water reservoir. With just a glance at the indicator, you know right away whether or not to refill the water, which is so convenient.

6.3 Oxygen Circulation

Sufficient water provision is good, but a good self-watering pot has more than that. It should also offer proper humidity, light, and oxygen for the plants in the planting container. Oxygen is very important for plants, especially when you grow them in this type of pot. Make sure that there is room for oxygen for air circulation between the soil and water reservoir.

Remember that the plant roots are at the bottom part of the container, right on top of the water. If the roots or soil is overwhelmed with too much water, it can lead to root rot. You want the pot that you choose to have a drainage hole to maintain air circulation through the soil. This part is very important, and you have to look for a drainage hole in the description of the pot.

6.4 Size

When it comes to size, there are two important things that I want you to focus on. The first thing is the size of the pot and the second is the size of the water reservoir. The good news is there are many different size options available, but make sure to go for the right size. Do not pick the self-watering pots that are too big for your plants, although they will grow. When there is too much room, it can affect the growth of the plants, which is not good at all.

For busy people, look for a self-watering pot with at least a gallon of water reservoir. A good self-watering planter should be able to hold water for at least 7 to 10 days or longer. That way, you will be able to go on getaways without worrying that your plants will die of thirst. Another thing to have in mind is to choose a self-watering pot in accordance with the type of your plants. Some plants drink a lot while others don’t, so the amount of time that the water remains also varies.

6.5 Transparency

In case you cannot find a self-watering pot with a water level indicator, go for the ones with transparent containers. Many users also like this type of design because it is beautiful and cool to look at. The best part is that you know when to refill the water with just a simple look. Normally, a pot like that comes with a different planter container while the water reservoir is transparent. It is nice and unique, and it makes a great complement in pretty much any room.

Final Thoughts

Self-watering pots are so convenient to have, especially for busy indoor plant collectors out there. Since I include how to use self watering pots and other important information about them, I hope this article is helpful. Self-watering planters are ideal for many types of plants and weather conditions, and they are also affordable. There are many reasons to get one, so grab yours now.

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