Self-watering pots are typically more expensive than standard pots due to their different construction. Some models contain a separator between the reservoir and the soil, while others have a water level indicator.
But are these additional features worth the extra cost?
Self-watering pots can be worth the investment as they keep the soil moist for longer, thus saving time and effort. The self-watering mechanisms of these pots are good for those with busy schedules and frequently away from home.
If used correctly, self-watering pots provide the convenience of self-sufficiency without having to upkeep a watering schedule. This is particularly handy if you need to go on holiday and don’t want to return to a bunch of wilting plants.
However, self-watering pots have their own problems, and not all plants will thrive on them.
In this short blog post, I’ll discuss the advantages of self-watering pots and the value they can bring to your planting experience.
Self-Watering Pots Reduce the Risk of Under-Watering
The whole point of self-watering is to prevent plants from dehydration from extended periods of neglect.
These specially designed pots reserve excess water and slowly feed into the soil. As such, self-watering pots are handy in circumstances where you need to be away from home.
Most houseplants would need to be given sufficiently complete watering once a week, but there are several reasons why one wouldn’t be able to. This includes:
- Overseas holiday travels
- Interstate work travels
- Extended care for sick relatives
- Busy life schedules around children
- Home renovations
With so many life events demanding our attention (family, pets, social media, and work), it’s easy to forget the weekly watering commitment.
Plants dying from under-watering are probably one of the most common causes of plant death. Self-watering pots buy that extra time for busy plant owners.
Self-Watering Pots Can Retain Soil Moisture for Longer
Self-watering pots have an inner reservoir or a moisture-wicking system that keeps a constant stream of water into the plant. This is important for certain plants that prefer consistent soil moisture throughout the week.
Self-watering pots are great for water-thirsting plants. Common houseplants that love consistent moist soil include the Spider Plant, Snake Plant and Pothos.
As mentioned in the points above, there are multiple reasons why it’s hard to upkeep a regular watering schedule, and this is where self-watering pots provide that convenience.
Self-Watering Pots Can Maintain Root Health
Self-watering pots do an excellent job of maintaining root health by moisturizing them.
Roots that are subjected to progressive dehydration and water loss lead to root shrinkage, according to a study in 2018. This reduces water absorption and chlorophyll content in leaves, disrupting photosynthetic processes.
Some self-watering pots have a water level indicator, so you can always ensure that there’s enough water in the reservoir. It provides a quick visual of the water levels and eliminates the guesswork in watering.
The water level indicator is particularly helpful if you live in a household with many family members. It’s easy for many people to water the same plant. The indicator tells you whether or not the plant has already been serviced.
Other self-watering pots have a cotton rope (or similar material) that feeds in the soil. This mechanism keeps the soil moist enough without the risk of waterlogging and root rot. Though, the effectiveness of self-watering pots still relies on a good soil mixture that is porous and well-draining.
Self-Watering Pots Can Reduce the Frequency of Fertilizing
The benefit of traditional pots with drainage holes is that they allow excess water to escape. While this is generally a good thing, watering dilutes the soil’s nutrient concentration, thus limiting food for the plants.
Self-watering pots typically have a separate compartment at the bottom of the pot that captures the excess water containing the washed nutrients. These salts are slowly fed back into the soil over time, thus reserving plant nutrients without it going to waste.
Should You Buy a Self-Watering Pot?
Whether or not a self-watering pot is worth the investment depends on lifestyle and plant species.
Self-watering pots can save you money from having to hire someone to water your plants. If you only have a select few exotic and expensive plants, self-watering pots might be worth the investment if you’re frequently away from home.
Consideration should also be taken of the plant that you wish to pot.
For example, some plants such as the Alocasia Black Velvet, are susceptible to overwatering and would not be suitable in a self-watering pot.
I have personally found that self-watering pots are too expensive for my circumstances.
I work from home four days and routinely water my houseplants every Sunday morning. When I travel abroad, I ask my parents to water my houseplants. In worst-case scenarios, I would find my plants wilting or a few yellowing leaves, which I prune off.