The 10 Best Self-Watering Planters

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This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in January of 2017. For the forgetful, absent-minded, or lazy gardener, self-watering planters will help keep your greenery alive. They also help prevent oversaturation by using a discrete reservoir system for your plants to draw upon as needed, rather than keeping the roots submerged. Whether you've got a yard to fill or are looking to grow herbs in your kitchen, our selections include a solution for you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Lechuza Balconera

2. EarthBox Garden Kit

3. Lechuza Maxi Cubi

Editor's Notes

October 28, 2020:

Even though the Glowpear Urban Garden is certainly attractive and useful, occasional issues with its overall durability make justifying its high price difficult, so we've decided to remove it. If it's a relatively large self-watering planter you're after, we still believe that the Keter Easy Grow and the Lechuza Balconera make fine choices. Many gardeners will recognize the name Lechuza, in fact, as it's a popular company when it comes to planters, featuring plenty of award-winning designs.

And speaking of Lechuza, we removed the Puro 20 in favor of the more popular Lechuza Maxi Cubi. With its sleek styling, the Maxi Cubi has a modern feel and will suit many homes thanks to a wide range of available colors.

For those who want something a little different from the typical plastic models, such as the cute, oval Santino Calipso, we selected the ceramic Maryland China Company 3.75". It boasts a handsome blue color and a country aesthetic, but do note that it's on the small side.

One final note about using self-watering planters. While many plants will thrive in these types of pots, some, such as succulents, may struggle. Choose your potting soil carefully, and remember that water is only one part of the picture; you might need a good grow lamp to complete your in-home garden if you aren't blessed with ample sunlight.

September 18, 2019:

While self-watering planters are a convenient time-saver, it's important to know how to use them properly to prevent rotting roots.

These planters work by drawing moisture from a reservoir at the bottom. To ensure any roots that grow deep into the container stay dry, place a layer of substrate between the soil and the water below. The Lechuza Balconera and Puro 20 include the brand's own granular compound to keep the roots aerated.

If the planter will be exclusively used outside, an option with drainage holes, like the Keter Easy Grow or the Sorbus Hanging, is a good idea, especially if you get a lot of rain.

Special Honors

Wet Pot The brainchild of designers Lasse Svedenstedt and Nils Plöjel, the Wet Pot regulates your plant's water supply with capillary attraction fostered by the inner terra cotta pot. No harmful chemicals are used in producing this eye-catching option, and there are three sizes available to select from.

Vondom Adan Resin The Vondom Adan Resin is certainly a stand-out piece, shaped as it is like a head, which allows your greenery to sprout out of the top like hair. Count on its faceted construction to offer plenty of texture and a modern feeling to any space in which you put it, whether inside the home or outdoors.

DiscountMugs Self Watering Planters With an order of customized DiscountMugs Self Watering Planters, you can keep your business's name or a personalized message in the forefront of users' minds each and every time they top up the water in the planter. And if you're not a whiz at graphic design, don't worry; help is available for those who aren't familiar with choosing fonts, clip art, or designs.

4. Keter Easy Grow

5. HB Services Round

6. Santino Calipso

7. Sorbus Hanging

8. Window Garden Aquaphoric

9. Hydrofarm Barrel

10. Maryland China Company 3.75"

Benefits Of Using Self-Watering Planters

Soilless, peat-based mixtures tend to work best, and perlite is often added for better aeration.

In theory, keeping plants alive seems like it should be easy. Water them, make sure they get plenty of sunlight, and the rest will take care of itself, right? Unfortunately, it's a bit more complicated than that. Some plants are rather persnickety about how much light and moisture they require to stay healthy, and giving them too much or too little of either can lead to a quick demise. Luckily, if you weren't blessed with a green thumb, self-watering planters make it a breeze to ensure that your photosynthesizing friends get just the right amount of water.

If you're the forgetful type, you've probably had a plant (or two) die because you simply couldn't remember to water it on a regular basis. With a self-watering pot, the plant is perched above a reservoir full of water, allowing it to absorb moisture whenever it's needed. Using the traditional method, some plants need to be watered every couple of days, but depending on the size of the reservoir, you may be able to wait a week or longer before filling it again. This comes in especially handy when you go on vacation or other long trips.

Overwatering is just as bad for plants as not watering them at all. When the soil doesn't have a chance to dry out, the excess moisture prevents the roots from absorbing oxygen, essentially drowning your plant. The wet environment also provides a perfect breeding ground for certain types of fungi that cause root rot. Self-watering planters help to prevent this problem by watering plants from the bottom, so they only take in as much as they need. This also encourages the roots to grow deep in order to seek out moisture.

In addition to regulating moisture levels, self-watering planters also help to retain the nutrients in the soil. When you water plants from above, nitrogen, phosphorous, and other minerals that plants need to grow will gradually flow out from the drainage holes in the bottom of the container along with the excess water. Thanks to the closed environment of a self-watering planter, those nutrients are captured in the reservoir so that plants can absorb them, meaning you won't need to add fertilizer as often.

When using self-watering planters, it's important to choose the right type of potting mix. You want something that's lightweight and well-aerated so that it can wick moisture to your plants without becoming waterlogged. Heavier mixes, like regular potting soil, are too tightly packed. Soilless, peat-based mixtures tend to work best, and perlite is often added for better aeration. You can buy special mixes that are made for self-watering containers, or make your own to save money.

What Types Of Plants Work Best With Self-Watering Planters?

Some plants can thrive in just about any conditions, even if they're almost completely neglected. Pothos, Chinese evergreen, and ZZ plants, for example, are extremely hardy and can handle low light and very infrequent watering, so a self-watering planter, while convenient, is not necessary for them. But these tend to be the exception rather than the rule — most plants require a bit more care, and some can be downright picky.

But these tend to be the exception rather than the rule — most plants require a bit more care, and some can be downright picky.

Azaleas, zebra plants, elephant ears, and Ctenanthe plants are very high-maintenance and need a consistent level of moisture, making them perfect candidates for self-watering planters. African violets are also notoriously fussy about their watering needs. They have very shallow root systems that can easily become waterlogged, and self-watering pots are great for preventing their soil from getting too moist.

If you want to try your hand at gardening but don't have a big enough yard, self-watering planters are great for growing edible plants, as well. Most vegetables, especially the ones that require a lot of water, do very well in them. These include tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower. They're also great for herbs that like moist soil, such as parsley, chives, and mint, and you can even buy indoor herb garden kits, many of which are self-watering.

On the other hand, some plants are just not suited for self-watering containers. Cacti and succulents prefer drier conditions than most other plants, and a self-watering pot will not allow them to dry out enough between waterings. The same goes for certain herbs, like basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.

Choosing The Best Self-Watering Pot For Your Plant

This may not be true for all things in life, but when it comes to planting containers, size matters. While you certainly don't want to choose a pot that's too small and will leave your plant root-bound, too much extra space can cause the soil to hold on to excess moisture, and it doesn't look very good, either. Shoot for a container that's two to four inches larger in diameter than your plant, so that it has room to grow without being swallowed up.

Some options even come with a tower or trellis for tomatoes and other plants that grow tall and need some extra support.

The material your planter is made of makes a difference, as well. Terra cotta and other clay pots are porous, which can cause the soil to dry out faster, so they aren't ideal for plants that require a lot of water. Glazed ceramic pots hold in moisture, but the larger sizes can be extremely heavy and difficult to move. Plastic containers are lightweight, nonporous, and inexpensive, and you won't have to worry about them breaking when the weather gets cold. It typically isn't as aesthetically pleasing as other materials, but if you care more about function than form, plastic is a versatile and reliable option.

Most self-watering pots are meant for single plants and made to sit on the floor or a shelf, but there are some unique designs out there for less traditional applications. Tiered planters are great for herb gardens and smaller fruits and vegetables. Hanging containers add a decorative touch to your porch or patio and give vines and other sprawling plants plenty of space to grow. Some options even come with a tower or trellis for tomatoes and other plants that grow tall and need some extra support.

Melissa Harr
Last updated by Melissa Harr

Melissa Harr is a language-obsessed writer from Chicagoland who holds both a bachelor of arts and master of arts in English. Although she began as a TEFL teacher, earning several teaching certificates and working in both Russia and Vietnam, she moved into freelance writing to satisfy her passion for the written word. She has published full-length courses and books in the realm of arts & crafts and DIY; in fact, most of her non-working time is spent knitting, cleaning, or committing acts of home improvement. Along with an extensive knowledge of tools, home goods, and crafts and organizational supplies, she has ample experience (okay, an obsession) with travel gear, luggage, and the electronics that make modern life more convenient.

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