A self-watering pot is quite handy when you want to grow in containers but don’t have time to keep watering the plants. But there are some plants that are more suited to growing in such a container than others.
The plants that do best in self watering pots are those that need the potting soil to always have some amount of moisture. Plants that need the soil to dry out won’t grow as well in a self watering pot. You can find a lot of vegetables, herbs, and decorative plants that grow well in such pots
I’ve listed a good list of plants that you can grow without any problems in a self-watering pot. I’ve also written details on how you can use a self-watering pot for such plants. You’ll also get a list of some if you’re looking to buy one.
Plants that do well in self-watering pots
The plants that do well in self-watering pots are those that need a consistent supply of water. These plants prefer that the soil has some moisture and does not dry out too much.
I’ve listed some of the plants below based on their category. You can find some vegetables, herbs, and flowering plants that are suitable for growing in a self-watering pot.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Pole beans
- Bell peppers
- Peace lily
- Snowy meadowfoam
- Baby’s tears
- Boston fern
- Umbrella palm
Plants that are not suitable for a self-watering pot
There are some plants that prefer the soil to dry out before you water it again. These include drought-resistant plants that I’ve listed below.
- Swiss chard
- Mustard greens
- Sweet potato
- Black-eyed Susan
- Century plant
How to use a self-watering pot
If you already have bought a self-watering pot, I’ll show you how to grow plants in them and what care you need to take.
Choose the plant
The most important aspect when using a self-watering pot is to pick the right plant that you can grow in it. I’ve listed some of the plants that do well in such a container and you can choose one that you prefer.
The main idea is to have a plant that can grow in potting soil that gets a constant and even supply of water from the reservoir of the self-watering pot.
And the size of the plant when it’s a seedling and when it’s fully grown should be suitable for growing in such a pot.
Pick the right size
The size of the self-watering pot you pick should be based on the plant you’re going to grow in it. They can come in different sizes based on whether you’re growing a big plant, indoor plants, herbs, or succulents.
You might be able to grow the plant in a smaller container but after it has grown big you’ll need to repot it in a larger one. So if you don’t want to spend a lot of money pick the right one at the start.
Use good potting soil
One of the most important components of growing a plant in any container is the potting soil you choose. The potting soil should be inert and have a good texture.
It should be light and fluffy so it can retain moisture but drain out the excess. It should also allow good air circulation so the roots can get aerated.
I would suggest buying a good quality potting soil from a local garden center, nursery, or an online store. Do not try to use garden soil in your container. This soil may be full of sand or clay that won’t allow good moisture and aeration for the roots.
It may also contain harmful pests, diseases, and chemicals that could harm the plant or you if you’re growing vegetables and herbs.
Some self-watering containers come with their own growing medium that could be made of fiber. But this is optional and not all of them will have this so buy some yourself.
You can put the potting soil in the upper portion of the container that is separated from the water reservoir at the bottom. You can fill it to the rim, unlike a regular container where we need to leave some space so the water does not spillover.
Transplant the seedling
You might have grown the plant indoors from seed or you may have bought the seedling from a garden center or nursery. It’s also possible to start seeds in the self-watering pot itself based on what plant you’re growing. Some plants have deep roots that don’t prefer to be disturbed once they have started growing.
If you have the seedling growing in another tray or container, you can transplant it to the self-watering pot. Make sure the seedling has been hardened before you do this. Otherwise, it can get stressed due to transplant shock.
You need to keep the seedling outside for a few hours every day so it gets used to the light, heat, and wind. Once it has adapted to the outdoor conditions after a few days, you can transplant it to the self-watering pot.
Make a hole in the center of the potting soil you added to the self-watering pot. The size should be sufficient to place the seedling.
Tilt the container or tray while holding the base of the plant with one hand. Tap the container gently so the root ball slides out. Now you can place the rootball in the hole you created and cover it with potting soil.
If you’re starting seeds, you need to refer the seed packet for instructions. Usually, you’ll need to push the seeds about 1/4th inches into the potting soil.
Add water to the reservoir
Now that you’ve placed the seedling in the container, you need to fill the reservoir with water. The system can differ depending on the type of self-watering pot.
Some have a tube as an inlet at the side of the pot where you need to pour water using a watering can or garden house. Some other containers have a port that is easy to pour water into.
You need to fill the right level of water in the reservoir. Some pots come with a water level indicator that makes it easy to check the water level. Others may not have this option.
But most self-watering pots will come with an overflow outlet so when you keep adding water, the excess will overflow out of this. That is an indication that you’ve filled the reservoir completely with water and you should stop.
Add mulch on top of the soil
Mulch is any organic or non-organic material that you lay an inch or two on top of the potting soil. This material acts as an insulator and helps the soil retain moisture longer.
It also regulates the temperature of the soil and can prevent weeds from growing as it does not allow light to reach the seeds. You should only add mulch after the seedlings have grown a few inches.
I suggest using organic materials for your mulch. This includes dried leaves, straw, grass clippings, moss, and wood chips. The organic mulch will also break down over time and add nutrients to the potting soil.
Fertilize the plant
There are some plants like oregano that can grow fine without adding any fertilizer. But some of them especially vegetables will need some added nutrients.
I recommend adding organic compost to your potting soil as this is the best source of nutrients for the plants. But if you don’t have compost, you can choose a granular or liquid fertilizer.
You need to mix the granular fertilizer in the potting soil when you first add it to the self-watering pot. Then once the seedling has developed a few inches, you can add the fertilizer on the potting soil every month during the growing season.
If you’re using liquid fertilizer you need to dilute it and add it to the water reservoir every couple of weeks.
Refer to the manufacturer’s instruction on the amount of fertilizer to use and how often to use it.
Clean the self-watering pot
It’s best to clean the water reservoir every month to prevent the growth of algae. You’ll be able to do this if you can open up the reservoir.
If you’re using fertilizer or hard water, it will deposit mineral salts in the potting mix and reservoir after some time. I suggest cleaning the potting mix and reservoir after every growing season.
You can flush water from the top into the potting soil till the excess water drains out from the overflow outlet. Repeat this a few times to remove all the salts from the soil and the reservoir.
The other option you have is to repot the plant in a fresh batch of potting soil that is free from such mineral salts.
What are some good self-watering pots?
If you’re looking to buy a self-watering pot for growing plants, I’ve listed some good ones below.
The Lecuza Cubico has an attractive cubic shape and is made with plastic. It’s durable, lightweight, UV resistant, and frost-resistant. It comes in 4 colors that you can choose from.
You can choose a container that is 22-inches or 30-inches in height. The planter has a water level indicator that makes it convenient to see how much water you added.
The Cole & Mason boasts that you’ll need 40% less watering when using this container. It’s a small container that can fit a 3.35-inch diameter pot inside. So it’s useful if you want to grow herbs.
The self-watering container comes with a 1 year supply of hydro-pad that is used to separate the reservoir from the potting soil.
You get 3 dividers in the top carbon steel container which means you can grow three different herbs in them. You can even store the container in the refrigerator once the herbs are grown.
It has a water level window that makes it easy to see how much water you have added into the container.
The Mkono self-watering planter is made with plastic which makes it lightweight and durable. It’s suitable for houseplants as it has a height of 7.8 inches.
The only thing I don’t like about this planter is there is no water level indicator. Which means you need to check the water level in the outer container using a flashlight. Or keep adding water to the reservoir till it comes out from the outflow hole.