Are Self-Watering Planters Good for Indoor Plants?


Self-Watering Planter for Indoor Plants

Some of your indoor plants need water every few days while others can go a week or two without H2O. Either way, you always have to water them, which can take up time out of your day that you don’t necessarily have. Wouldn’t it be nice if a planter could water your houseplants for you? Is such a thing possible, and if so, is it good for your plants? If self -watering planters and self-watering pots are new to you, I think you’re really going to be glad you read this article

Are self-watering planters good for indoor plants? Yes! Self-watering planters are a fantastic solution for most indoor plants, especially tropical plants, vegetables, annuals, and perennials. Houseplants that like moist soil probably do not need a self-watering planter though, as it’s hard to maintain the degree of necessary soil moisture.

In this extensive guide, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about self-watering planters.

Near the bottom of this article, I’m even going to share a few of my favorite self-watering planters A.K.A. self-watering pots, with you so you’ll know which ones I’ve liked enough to recommend.

What Is a Self-Watering Planter?

Before I get into everything, I want to make sure we’re clear on what a self-watering planter is and how it works. 

A self-watering planter is a pot or container for your indoor plants, but not just any ordinary pot.  The main pot is the traditional one for housing your soil and houseplant, but a bottom reservoir, also known as an outer pot or water storage tank, keeps extra water.

You’d fill up the water storage tank and that’s the extent of what you’d have to do. Maybe every week, you check on the water levels and refill as needed, but your job is an incredibly quick and easy one. 

Another important part of the self-watering planter, the wick, connects the outer and inner pot so water can easily travel up to the plant’s root ball and nourish your plant.

Do Self-Watering Planters Help Indoor Plants?

If you’re as avid an indoor gardener as I am, then you’re always looking for hacks that can save you a bit of time tending to all your plants. A self-watering planter is like a commercially-manufactured hack that will make your life so much easier.

What about your houseplants? Will a self-watering planter help them, or should you grin and bear it, sticking to manually watering your plants every few days?

Your indoor plants will definitely benefit from a self-watering planter. Here’s how. 

Overflow Hole Prevents Root Rot

Some houseplants don’t mind growing in water, such as jade plants, spider plants, and English ivy. Most don’t like that much water though, as oversaturating the roots can lead to a condition called root rot.

In many cases, root rot can spell the end for your poor houseplant. If it does survive, you often have to cut a lot of the roots, leaves, and stems off just to give your houseplant a fighting chance.

To you, it might seem like the excess water from a self-watering planter is a prime opportunity for your houseplant to develop root rot. Yet the overflow hole in your self-watering planter ensures that your plant never receives more water than it needs. The overflow hole, as the name suggests, empties the overflow of water that can sometimes accumulate. 

Let’s say that your wick or some other part of your self-watering planter malfunctioned. Even still, the overflow hole in the planter ensures that extra water will continue draining so your houseplant can avoid being overwatered and become susceptible to root rot.  

Efficient Use of Water

You’re very conscious of how much water you use, both for tending to your houseplants and for the rest of your life at home. The last thing you want to do is waste any water. In that case, you definitely want to look into getting a self-watering planter for your indoor garden.

Some self-watering planters have a moisture-wicking system that makes them even more efficient. When the chamber has water sitting within it, the moisture-wicking system absorbs that moisture and then sends it to your plant as water. Yes, you could theoretically keep using the same water almost infinitely but that’s not realistic.

Also, water delivery via a self-watering planter is more targeted than using a spray bottle or watering can. With both those options, you have little control where the water goes, which is wasteful. The water in the planter always moves to the destination, the plant’s roots, without being diverted in the process. 

Even Moisture Levels

As your plant absorbs the water, it enters the soil from its bottom up rather than the top down like when you’d water your houseplant traditionally. This may not seem helpful, but it is, and incredibly so. This method of water delivery ensures that moisture goes right to your indoor plant’s roots, and evenly too. 

Lower Risk of Fungal Diseases

Another benefit of bottom-up watering with a self-watering planter? Healthier houseplants that live longer. 

When you water your houseplant from the top down, although you’re aiming for the plant’s roots, sometimes water gets on the leaves. If the leaves are continually oversaturated, they’re at a higher risk of developing fungal diseases. 

Switching to a self-watering planter keeps the leaves dry. Depending on the houseplant species, such as a philodendron, you may have to mist the leaves to clean them every now and again, but otherwise, the plant is healthy and happy. 

Feeds Nutrients as Well as Water

Besides just supplying water to your thirsty plant, you can also use your self-watering planter to deliver plant food & nutrients directly to your plants root system. Slow-release nutrients can provide your plant the sustenance it needs for periods of three to four weeks at a time. 

The Downsides of Self-Watering Planters

I’m not discouraging you from getting a self-watering planter at all in this next section. Before you make any purchase though, it’s always good to look at the product from both sides. Here are some pitfalls you must watch out for. 

Hot Weather Can Make the Water Evaporate 

In hotter climates especially, you may find yourself refilling the planter more often since the water will evaporate faster. That’s annoying, as it defeats most of the convenience of owning a self-watering planter. 

Not Good for All Types of Plants

Like I mentioned in the intro, many houseplants are eligible for a self-watering planter. These include tropical plants and vegetables such as herbs, garlic, cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes. If you like annuals, these should grow well in a self-watering container. The same is true of perennials, especially hostas and Japanese irises. 

That said, plant species that need very moist soil don’t do as well with a self-watering planter. This method of watering, watering from the bottom up, rarely delivers as much moisture as some houseplants need, which can cause them to dry out and generally suffer as a result of using the self watering planter.

Which houseplants are NOT great candidates for a self-watering container?

  • The umbrella papyrus/palm or Cyperus alternifolius is one, as it’s considered semi-aquatic. It prefers lots of humidity in the air and grows best with a large, full saucer underneath it.
  • The spike moss or Selaginella family of plants, also known as living moss, is another semi-aquatic plant that prefers you to ramp up the moisture and water content. The plant’s roots are shorter than other houseplant species, so using traditional potting mix prevents the water from getting to the roots.
  • The fiber-optic plant or Isolepis cernua is named such because its inflorescences look a lot like fiber optics. It’s yet another semi-aquatic plant that a self-watering planter is insufficient for. Use a basin or saucer of water underneath the plant instead.

If you own an umbrella papyrus, spike moss or fiber-optic, or a few of these semi-aquatic plants, I strongly suggest you avoid planting them in any self-watering planter & stick with traditional watering. 

Pro Tip…

The Best Self-Watering Planters – 5 Fantastic Picks 

Just to reiterate, I only shared the above downsides so you can make a fully educated decision on whether to buy a self-watering planter. If you’ve made it to this section, then I assume you’re at least interested in trying a self-watering pot of some kind. The question becomes, which pot or planter should you choose?

I did my best to come up with the best self-watering planters I’ve used as well as a couple that are currently on my personal wishlist. I’ve included links, detailed feature descriptions, and even a few pros and cons .

Lechuza 13203 Self-Watering Garden Planter

My first pick is one that I’ve bought in multiple colors, the Lechuza 13203 Classico Color 28 Self-Watering Garden Planter, which you’ll enjoy looking at as much as your plants will love getting water from. Its design adds a touch of modernity to your home, apartment, or office. 

The easy-to-read water level indicator on this model tells you when it’s time for a refill. 

Lechuza’s self-watering planter comes in a few colors I really like a lot, Nutmeg Matte, Purple Garnet Matte, Slate Matte, and White Matte

Cons

  • They rarely have all of the colors in stock at the same time. Not a bad con at all unless you really only want the color they don’t have in stock.

Aquaphoric Self-Watering 7-Inch Planter

Next on the list is the Aquaphoric Self-Watering Planter. This is one that’s on my personal wishlist. Measuring 7 inches, it’s great for some of my larger herbs in my kitchen. A sleek, simply designed container with no bells and whistles. 

The glass water indicator shows you how much water is left so you never forget to refill your Aquaphoric. You can get this sizable self-watering planter in a variety of colors, such as wine red, slate blue, purple, neon pink, chartreuse or neon green, charcoal or dark gray, blue, and black. Some of the colors have a matte finish and others a gloss finish. Unlike the Lechuza, the Aquaphoric is usually in stock in all colors.

Pros

  • Aquaphoric throws in some fiber soil, two quarts total, with your purchase that contains nutrients so your plants can get off to a great start.
  • The fun colors available will certainly brighten up your indoor garden, making you even happier to be there. 

Cons

  • Back when I fist became interested in this model, I noticed that a few users mentioned that a lot of water can get fed to your plant, so consider keeping an eye on it the first few times you fill it up.

Santino Self-Watering Planter

Another really reliable self-watering container is this one from Santino. You get four sizing options: 5.5 inches, 6.7 inches, 7.9 inches, or 8.8 inches. Buy a few planters in several sizes and you can create an awesome look for your indoor garden!

The planter is made of sturdy plastic that promises not to leak. Air circulation within the self-watering planter can encourage plant growth. Also, according to Santino, once you fill this planter once, it should water your plant reliably for the next four weeks. 

The Santino Self-Watering Planter comes in colors like white, shade (black), jade, and cream.

Pros

  • Since you have size options, you can get a self-watering planter from Santino that fits your unique houseplant.
  • A small window at the front of the planter lets you track water levels quickly and conveniently. 

Cons

  • Some shoppers have said the Santino planter comes with gravel even though it’s not advertised. The gravel apparently isn’t mentioned in the product instructions, either. Honestly, I’d look at the gravel as a bonus if I received it but I’m not going to be disappointed if I don’t receive gravel with it.

Aquaphoric Herb Garden Tub

If you liked the last Aquaphoric self-watering planter, you might want to try their Herb Garden Tub as well. Ideal for herbs as the name says, all the features you’d expect with an Aquaphoric self-watering planter are back here. Those include a water level indicator so you know when your herb garden tub will need more water.

The passive hydroponic action could lead to a lusher, healthier herb garden, and with Aquaphoric’s own fiber soil included, your plant’s roots have more room to breathe. You can get your Aquaphoric Herb Garden Tub in ivory matte or black matte for a more upscale indoor garden. 

Pros

  • Aquaphoric designed their self-watering herb garden tub to fit comfortably on most windowsills. 
  • Since it’s thin but wide (4 by 14 inches), even smaller homes and apartments have room for this self-watering container.

Cons

  • Some indoor gardeners have complained that the water indicator doesn’t work. 

Bloem Ariana Self Watering Planter

If you’re still looking for a good self-watering planter, try the Bloem Ariana. Made of polypropylene plastic, the Ariana is UV-stabilized so it can spend hours in the sun without fading. It’s also adept at handling temperature changes with no damage. Oh, and it has no BPAs, either.

Pros

  • A saucer comes with your purchase for keeping up humidity for your houseplants.

Cons

  • I did see where some people have mentioned that the color exact to what was advertised on Amazon. 

Related Questions

How long does the water in the self-watering planter last?

You’ve excitedly bought one of the self-watering planters suggested above and started using it right away. The secondary pot is filled with water for now, but how long will it last you?

You should easily get at least one or two weeks out of your self-watering planter before it needs a refill.

That’s not something I can definitively answer, because it will depend on which plants you’re growing, how much water they need, and how humid it is where you live. Some planters may even let you stretch that refill time to three or four weeks!

Do ferns like self-watering pots?

You’re growing a fern, and you’ve found it’s a little pickier and more difficult than the other houseplants in your garden. Should you keep watering it manually, or is it worthwhile to try a self-watering planter?

Self-watering planters suit ferns especially well. You still get the soil dampness a fern needs through the planter. You’re also not at risk of overwatering your plant, which is always a good thing! 

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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