How to Make Self-Watering Plant Containers


Self-watering plant containers allow your house plants to literally feed themselves. This technique can keep your plants watered while you're away on vacation, or can help keep your plants alive if you frequently forget waterings. Self-watering plant containers or wicking systems work for all types of houseplants. A one-wick system can cover a small plant, such as a 3-inch container. Jerry's Plants Online advises allowing one wick for every 4 inches of container diameter as a rule of thumb.

Step 1

Cut a round hole in the lid of your plastic container. Make the hole 1/2 to 1 inch wide and throw away the scrap plastic.

Step 2

Fill the plastic container with tap water. This will be the water reserve for your self-watering system.

Step 3

Place your wick into the water reservoir and hold it there. Watch to see whether the wick soaks up water. If it does, the water will travel up the wick fiber and the entire thing will become wet. Green Culture Singapore suggests using pantyhose or acrylic string. Remove the wick from the reservoir once you're certain it soaks up water.

Step 4

Drape the dry end of the wick over a screwdriver. Then push the screwdriver up through a drainage hole in your plant's container, thus pushing the wick into the soil. Remove the screwdriver and gently tug the wick. It should remain in the soil.

Step 5

Place the other end of the wick back in the water reservoir.

Step 6

Camouflage the reservoir by moving it behind your plant container. Check on the water level two to three times a week, adding more water as needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic pint container
  • Scissors
  • Pantyhose (optional)
  • Acrylic string, 1/4 inch thick (optional)
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • 6 percent hydrogen peroxide


  • Green Culture Singapore: How to Make Your Own Self Watering Pot
  • University of Illinois: Choosing a Container for Planting
  • Jerry's Plants Online: Pot Wicking
Keywords: self watering planter, self watering container, homemade self-watering container

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.