How to Make a Self Watering Pot to Keep Plants Watered


Use self-watering pots for both indoor and outdoor plants. This style of pot ensures that your plants get enough water at all times by providing the water exactly when it is needed. A self-watering pot has a reservoir in the bottom of the planter that is separated from the soil by a screen. A wick pulls the water from the reservoir into the soil as it is needed. You can make your planter as utilitarian or as decorative as you desire. They are suitable for both vegetable and ornamental plants.

Step 1

Drill a 1/2-inch hole in the center of the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket. Drill 1/4-inch holes in a ring between the edge of the bucket and the 1/2-inch hole in the center.

Step 2

Drill a second 1/2-inch hole in the bottom of the bucket 1 inch from the edge. Slide a 3-foot length of 1/2-inch diameter PVC pipe into this hole.

Step 3

Place an 8-inch cotton wick into the center hole in the bottom of the bucket. Use a clean cotton wick that is sold for use in outdoor torches. Alternately, any non-dyed cotton fabric can be substituted.

Step 4

Place the bucket with the wick into a second bucket. Push the PVC pipe down until it touches the bottom of the second bucket.

Step 5

Fill the planter to the rim with a moist, soil-less potting mixture. Use only soil-less mixtures as soil mixtures do not absorb water properly.

Step 6

Pour water into the PVC pipe, filling the reservoir between the two buckets. The reservoir is full when water begins to back up in the pipe.

Step 7

Plant the desired plants into the self-watering pot. Fill the reservoir one to two times a week via the fill tube.

Tips and Warnings

  • Self-watering pots need additional fertilization as soil-less mix has few nutrients for the plants. Use a soluble fertilizer at the rate recommended for flower pots.

Things You'll Need

  • Buckets
  • Drill
  • Wick
  • PVC pipe
  • Potting mix


  • Seattle Peak Oil Awareness: Making A Self Watering Container (PDF)
Keywords: self-watering pot, sub-irrigation planter, grow box

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.