How to Use Self Watering Pots

How to Use Self Watering Pots

If you want to add some lush plants to your decor but don’t have the time to water them, then a self-watering pot may be a good fit for you. Self-watering pots absorb as much water as they need from reservoirs on the bottom, so you only need to worry about refilling them once they’re empty. They're perfect for watering plants while you're away or if you just have a busy schedule. Just keep reading to learn how a self-watering pot works and how you can use one for your plants.

[Edit]Things You Should Know

  • Plant your plants in the top or inner section of the self-watering pot with moist potting mix.
  • Water the topsoil the first time you use your self-watering pot to compact the soil on the plant roots.
  • ​​Fill the bottom reservoir whenever it’s empty to water your plant.
  • Self-watering pots pull water up from the reservoir into the soil. The water absorbs into the soil directly or absorbs up a wick.


[Edit]Filling and Using a Self-Watering Pot

  1. Attach the water reservoir to the bottom of the pot. Check out pieces that make up your self-watering pot. Locate a bottom reservoir that stores water and a pot with holes (or a wick) that you use to actually plant your plant. Set the planting pot on top of the reservoir or snap it into place so it’s secure.[1]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 1.jpg
    • On some self-watering planters, the reservoir is a larger outer pot and the pot you plant into sits inside of it.
  2. Add moist potting mix to the bottom of the pot. You can use any standard potting mix for your plants. Moisten it with a little bit of water and fill the bottom third of the pot with your soil. Keep the potting soil loose and avoid compacting it down. That way, your plant's roots will grow in easily and water can move through the soil faster.[2]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • You can add nutrients and improve drainage by mixing in 1 part compost and 1 part perlite with your potting mix.
    • If your self-watering pot has a fabric wick, hold it straight up while you fill the pot with soil. That way, the water will reach higher into the pot.
  3. Plant your plants into the soil. Break apart the soil around your plant’s roots, and plant it in the pot. Fill in around the plant roots with your potting mix until it’s about below the pot’s rim.[3]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 3.jpg
    • Gently press the soil down around your plant but don’t compress it completely. Otherwise, it may be hard for the roots to establish.
  4. Water your plant from above to compact the soil. The air pockets in the soil prevent it from making the best contact with your plant’s roots. For the first time you water a self-watering pot, water the soil directly. Once the soil compacts, fill in any low spots of soil in your pot with extra potting mix and water it again.[4]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 4.jpg
  5. Fill the reservoir completely with water. Check the reservoir on the bottom of your self-watering planter and add more water if it isn’t completely full. Usually, the reservoir is transparent so you can see the water level or there will be a fill meter telling you how much water is left. Fill your self-watering pot from the fill tube sticking up from the side of the pot or by pouring it into a spout on the side of the reservoir.[5]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 5.jpg
    • Refill your self-watering pot whenever the reservoir’s water level is low. Depending on how much water your plant needs, you may need to refill every few days to once every few weeks.

[Edit]How do self-watering pots work?

  1. Water travels through a wick and into the soil. If your self-watering pot has a fabric wick, the bottom of the wick sits in the water in the reservoir. The moisture absorbs up through the wick into the bottom of the pot and into the soil. As long as there’s water in the reservoir, the wick will stay wet and keep the soil consistently moist.[6]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 6.jpg
  2. Part of the pot sits in the reservoir and absorbs water. Some pots have a portion that extends below the bottom and always sits in the water. The soil pulls the water up towards the plant’s roots and helps them grow deeper into the pot.[7]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 7.jpg

[Edit]What are the benefits of self-watering pots?

  1. More convenient to water{endbold} If you have plants that normally need to be watered every day, finding the time to do it can be tough if you’ve got a busy schedule. With a self-watering pot, your plant will pull up water on its own and you only need to fill it when the reservoir gets low.[8]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 8.jpg
  2. More efficient use of water{endbold} When you water from above, some of it may evaporate from the sun and dry out before it even reaches your plant. A self-watering pot waters from below, so your plant will only pull up as much water as it needs. You also reduce the risk of overwatering since any excess drains right back into the reservoir.[9]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 9.jpg
  3. Reduced chances of pests and fungus{endbold} When the topsoil is moist around your plant, there’s a higher risk of fungus forming and attracting pests. Since the soil draws the water up from the bottom, the topsoil will stay dry and keep your plants healthy throughout the growing season.[10]

[Edit]What plants work best in self-watering pots?

  1. Herbs{endbold} Herb gardens are pretty thirsty for water, so a self-watering pot lets them drink up as much as they need. Try planting basil, cilantro, and mint in your self-watering pots so you can grow an herb garden in your windowsill.[11]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 11.jpg
  2. Ferns{endbold} Ferns tend to dry out when you plant them in pots since they need a lot of water for their lush growth. Luckily, you can save them with a large self-watering pot to give them all the water they require.[12]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 12.jpg
  3. Begonias{endbold} Begonias are beautiful flowers that thrive in moist soil, so a self-watering pot works perfectly to prevent them from drying out.[13] The pots also help prevent you from overwatering your begonias, which is great since they’re susceptible to root rot.[14]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 13.jpg
  4. African violets{endbold} African violets can start to develop rot when you water them from above, but they look great in self-watering planters that wick moisture up from below. Your violets will look beautiful all growing season without the risk of disease.[15]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 14.jpg
  5. Snake plants{endbold} Snake plants don’t need a lot of water, so they’re perfect if you don’t want to fill your self-watering pot as frequently. Once you fill the reservoir, you can leave your snake plant for a week or two without needing to worry about watering it.[16]
    Use Self Watering Pots Step 15.jpg


  • Succulents and cacti aren’t great for self-watering pots since they don’t grow well in soil that’s consistently moist.[17]


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