Are Self-Watering Globes Good for Plants?


Self watering aqua globe in the soil of an indoor bonsai tree

For frequent travelers or vacationers who want to maintain an indoor garden, the biggest struggle is long periods of unavailability. If you’ve only ever relied on kindhearted friends or neighbors to tend to your plants while you’re away, you might be interested in learning more about self-watering globes, also referred to as Aqua Globes. But do they really work? And, are self-watering globes good for plants?

Self-watering globes are great for plants. Depending on size, water globes can provide an easy to use hydration system for up to two weeks. But beware, if you have thirsty plants or very dry soil that absorbs water quickly, then a water globe may not keep your soil moist for as long as advertised.

I’m sure you have more questions about self-watering globes, which is why I recommend you keep reading. Ahead, I’ll explain how Aqua Globes work in detail, including how to clean them. I’ll also recommend some of my favorite self-watering globes!

Do Aqua Globes Really Work?

Aqua Globes and other self-watering globes are an inexpensive, appealing solution for those plant owners or indoor gardeners who can’t be at home all the time to tend to their houseplants. Unlike some plant solutions out there, a self-watering globe is not a complex device involving wires or electricity. 

Instead, it’s a long glass tube with a large bulb on one end. The other end of the tube has a small opening. You’re supposed to fill the bulb with water, put the globe bulb-up into your plant’s soil, and then let gravity do its thing. 

The soil around the opening of the water globe impedes the rate of water flow while also keeping air out. The thin, tapered end of the glass tube releases water into your plant’s soil gradually, enough to last one to two weeks. 

It almost sounds too good to be true, you’re saying. So, does it work?

Yes, Aqua Globes do work. There are some caveats–which I touched on in the intro and will discuss more in just a moment–but many indoor gardeners have tried self-watering globes at one time or another and reported good results. 

This doesn’t mean a self-watering globe will water your plants forever. As mentioned above, depending on the capacity of the bulb, you get one week to two weeks’ worth of water from a self-watering globe. After that point, you need to take the bulb out, clean it off, and refill it. Keep reading for self-watering globe cleaning tips.

Okay, so let’s go back to those caveats, shall we? 

Self-watering globes aren’t always the best answer for every houseplant species. Take succulents, for example. If you had a two-week business trip, sticking an Aqua Globe in your succulent’s soil probably isn’t necessary.

You could just water the succulent before you leave and then forget about it until you’re back home. Since succulents retain water in their fleshy leaves, they go a lot longer between watering than most plants.

By feeding your succulent water consistently over two weeks with a self-watering globe if you had already watered the plant before you left, now it’s at risk of being overwatered. The problem though is you’re not there to identify the symptoms of overwatering in your succulent, nor can you take out the water bulb. By the time you get home two weeks later, your succulent could be in very bad shape.

The opposite can also be a problem. Some houseplant species are big drinkers, including African violets, cyclamens, poinsettias, and begonias. For these plants, the water that trickles out of the self-watering globe may be too little. 

None of this is to say that Aqua Globes don’t work, as they certainly do. You just have to know which type of plant you’re dealing with before deciding whether a self-watering globe is the best solution.    

How Long Will an Aqua Globe Keep my Plants Watered?

I know I touched on this earlier but a large aqua globe when filled can release water for upwards of two weeks, but please always read the label or product details before buying a self-watering globe. Some are only large enough to water your plant for a week. 

That said, I use a few of the mini globes on some of my smaller plants because I don’t want the water globe to water my plant for more than a few days at a time. Consider buying a larger water globe for larger plants or plants that demand more water in general but for smaller plants or “less thirsty plants” consider trying a smaller size globe.

You can always add more water to your plant if needed but using a large water globe on a smaller plant might end up overwatering the plant and that’s obviously a problem you don’t want to have.

How Long Do Aqua Globes Last?

As for how long your self-watering globe will last in general, that’s one of the best parts of these globes besides their simplicity and ease of use. They’re reusable again and again.

You just clean the globe when you’re done using it and you can put it right back in your plant’s soil or even treat another plant in your indoor garden to the Aqua Globe.

Do keep in mind that self-watering globes are made of glass. You have to handle them carefully or they’ll shatter. I wouldn’t put an Aqua Globe in a plant’s pot on a windowsill with an open window, as the whole setup is a bit too precarious. 

Best Watering Globes for Plants

Every indoor gardener should own at least one set of self-watering globes. Besides long work trips or personal getaways, these glass bulbs also come in handy if you have a large indoor garden. You can water some of your plants for a week or two without physically having to do anything.

Four Recommendations for the Best Watering Globes to Buy.

Wyndham House 4-Piece Plant Watering Globe Set

I’ll start with my personal favorite, this four-piece watering globe set from Wyndham House. Besides my preference, these globes are also an Amazon’s Choice product. For under $20, you get four watering globes, each with a diameter of three inches and a length of 12 inches. These aren’t huge watering globes, so expect about a week of watering rather than two weeks.

Each glass-blown bulb is a different color in shades of blue as well as green. I love the colors of these bulbs as well as their size. When your houseplant gets its daily dose of sunshine, you’ll like how the sunlight glints and shines off the pretty glass bulbs.  

Aqua Globes Glass Plant Watering Bulbs

Aqua Globes is a brand, so you had to know it was only a matter of time before they would end up on this list. A two-pack of self-watering bulbs is available for under $20, so it’s a good deal. You can also buy a four-pack on Amazon for around $30. 

The bulbs measure 13.3 inches by 6.3 inches by 4.8 inches apiece. According to Aqua Globes, each bulb can hold two weeks of water. Users have said the water capacity of an Aqua Globe is one cup to one-and-a-half cups. Aqua Globes come in various shades of blue. 

Aqua Globe Mini 

I mentioned earlier the issue with watering succulents with a full-sized watering globe. One option for preventing overwatering is to use a much smaller watering globe such as the Aqua Globe Mini. This three-pack will still provide hydration to your plants over two weeks, but on a much smaller scale. You won’t have to worry about water-saturated succulents when you arrive home.

Other small plants or paltry drinkers will also do well with these mini watering globes. The colors are emerald green, sapphire blue, and a hue called spring bouquet that includes a mix of both colors. 

Trenton Gifts Multi-Colored Glass Watering Globes 

If you want a bunch of self-watering globes at once, try this set from Trenton Gifts. You get six watering globes for $20, which is not a bad deal at all. Each globe is 2.5 inches deep and six inches long. Users have mentioned you get two weeks of water on average from these globes, sometimes even three weeks. 

Each bulb has a unique color, including dark blue, red, green/red, blue/red, teal, and yellow. You can color-code your whole indoor garden with these self-watering globes! 

How to Clean a Self-Watering Globe

The tapered end of a self-watering globe goes in your plant’s soil, so you have to expect that it will get dirty after a week or two has elapsed. Keeping your Aqua Globe clean is key to it working well the next time. A dried layer of soil around the lip of the bulb will only let air in, which may displace the water. 

Wash your self-watering globe in your kitchen sink using warm water. Dip a pipe cleaner in dish soap and then put the pipe cleaner in the globe, rubbing around inside to remove any soil residue. Then rinse the inside of the globe thoroughly with more warm water until you see no more suds. 

Mold can grow inside self-watering bulbs, but this doesn’t mean you have to throw yours out. Instead, mix equal parts lemon juice and baking soda, enough to fill the inside of the bulb. Add the mixture, cover the opening of the self-watering globe, and give the bulb a vigorous shake. Don’t be too vigorous, as you don’t want to drop it! The watering globe will most likely crack or break if you drop it.

When you see suds in the globe, stop shaking. Rinse the mixture until all the suds are gone and the mold should be too. Please plan to clean your self-watering globe after every use for best results. 

Self-Watering Globes Dos and Don’ts

I’ve established that self-watering globes are extraordinarily convenient for indoor gardeners, but you still want to take precautions so your Aqua Globe is as effective as it can be. To that end, here are some dos and don’ts to remember. 

DO Use a Self-Watering Globe If Traveling for a Week or More

Although nothing beats your precise hand when watering your houseplants, since you won’t be around, a self-watering globe really is the next best thing. You can rely on the globe for efficiency more than you can a friend or neighbor who doesn’t know a philodendron from a Monstera and may overwater or underwater your plants. 

DON’T Count on a Self-Watering Globe to Keep Your Plants Watered for More Than Two Weeks 

Aqua Globes are pretty awesome, but they’re not a permanent solution. If you’re going to be gone for a month, don’t use a self-watering globe unless someone can clean the globe that’s in your plant’s pot and then refill it. You also can’t rely on a self-watering globe as a “set it and forget it” solution to watering your houseplants. Your plants will run out of water soon enough. 

DO Choose a Deep Pot to Put the Self-Watering Globe in

A full-sized self-watering globe is rather top-heavy. You don’t want to create a perilous situation in your houseplant’s pot when you put the globe in there, so choose deeper pots whenever you can. They’re much more stable. 

DON’T Just Put the Globe in the Soil First

A good way to clog your Aqua Globe is to dig the tapered end into the soil. You can also apply too much pressure to the glass and crack it, hurting yourself. What you should do first is take a clean butter knife, a chop stick, or a pencil (eraser-side only, please) and create a burrow for the watering globe to go. 

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

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