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Self-Watering for Potted Plants

By Elizabeth Balarini ; Updated September 21, 2017
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Wonderlane

Potted plants liven up a home, bringing color and life to any room. Plants that aren't watered often enough frequently fall victim to an owner's busy schedule or forgetfulness. If you are a plant owner who forgets to water your plants, or if you need to travel, use a self-watering system for your potted plants. Your plants will be able to drink water as they require it, and you will only have to refill the reservoirs every two or three weeks.

DIY Self-Watering Container

You can make your own self-watering container out of a 2- or 3-liter soda bottle. Use a blade or sharp scissors to cut the bottle 5 1/2 inches from the bottom. Leave the bottom half sitting on the table. Paint the top half with black spray paint, to make the container opaque and protect the plant's root system.

Stuff an 8- by 8-inch piece of 100% cotton fabric into the neck of the bottle, and turn this piece of the bottle upside down so that it rests inside the other half of the bottle. Pour water into the upside down part of the bottle, to wet the fabric.

Fill the the top section of the container with potting soil mix (not soil from the ground). Plant your plant into this container. To water, lift the planter and pour water in the bottom container until it is half full. Replace the top container. The cotton fabric serves as a wick, pulling water to the plant's roots as needed.

Using Expanded Clay

Expanded clay are small marble-like pebbles of clay that have been baked. The high baking temperatures cause the pebbles to expand and become porous.

Find a pot with a drainage hole and fill it halfway with expanded clay pellets. Wash your plant's root system, to rinse off any soil. Carefully place the plant on top of the clay pellets, fanning out the roots. Pour more expanded clay on top of the roots and around the stem, holding the plant upright.

Place the container into a shallow pot that has no drainage hole. Fill this second container with water and a drop of liquid plant fertilizer. The wicking action of the clay will draw water up to the plant's roots.

Refill the bottom pot as needed. If you find that you are refilling too often, get a larger pot.

Aqua Globes

Aqua Globes are colorful glass globes made to enable your plant to self-water.

First, water your plant completely. The Aqua Globe will not work if the potting soil is dry.Fill the Aqau Globe with water and invert it. Press the spike into the potting soil in a diagonal direction, so that the opening is aimed at the plant's roots.

Refill as needed. Most plants need a refill only once every week or two.

Earth Boxes

Earth Boxes are large self-watering containers that were originally created for growing vegetables. The containers can also be used for large houseplants. To use, fill the bottom reservoir with water, and place the upper chamber back on top of the bottom chamber. Fill the upper chamber with potting soil and the plant. Water through the fill tube. Re-water once every three to four weeks.

DIY Aqua Globe

If you enjoy recycling and repurposing waste, you can create a homemade Aqua Globe so that your potted plants can self-water. Cut the bottom off of a 20-ounce or 1-liter plastic bottle. Invert the bottle and stuff the neck of the bottle with cotton balls or a 100% cotton rag. Dampen the cotton plug, and press the container into the potted plant's soil. Fill with water. Refill the soda bottle when the water level is low.


About the Author


Elizabeth Balarini is a freelance writer and professional blogger who began writing professionally in 2006. Her work has been published on several websites. Her articles focus on where her passions lie: writing, web development, blogging, home and garden, and health and wellness. Balarini majored in English at the University of Texas at San Antonio.