Self Watering Pots - For the Urban Family
Houseplants mainly depend on humans for water, nutrients, disease management, and sunlight requirements. But humans are not very consistent, and the people living in urban areas usually suffer from a lack of time and are stressed when they forget to give water to that precious plant of theirs.
Offering care to indoor plants is consistent and gruelling work. The only thing that plants need most is consistency, but the busy lives of the urban gardeners make it difficult for them to provide them the same. Humans require water on a daily basis and cannot survive without the same for long. Similarly, plants are also living beings and need water regularly. Underwatering leads to many problems such as wilting and yellowing of the leaves of the plant, consequently leading to unhealthy plants.
That is when self-watering pots come to the rescue. Refill the reservoir once or twice a week, and one need not worry about that precious plant of theirs. Now the question arises: how can plant water itself? So, let’s see what these pots are and how they work.
What are Self-watering Containers?
Self-watering pots are the perfect pots for urban Indian families as they take care of the water needs of the plants, even when they are not watered on a regular basis. They offer a balanced amount of water to the pots, neither more nor less. These self-watering container pots save time, water, along with helping the plant to have healthy root growth.
These pots are a blessing in disguise and constitute two containers, an inner pot, and an outer pot. Both the containers together work as a reservoir and help in minimizing the loss of water by reducing seepage and evaporation losses. This unique system of water utilization also aids in preserving the nutrients by reducing their runoff, as compared to a traditional container.
How do they work?
These self-watering containers work on the principle of preserving water. They help in improving the health of the plant, along with offering convenience to busy urban gardeners. There is a wide range of self-watering pots available in the market, having different designs, but they usually consist of four components. The components include the following:
- Growing bed
It is the upper portion of the self-watering planter and helps hold the plant and soil in place.
- The soil used for potting
For a self-watering pot to work suitably, correct potting soil that is lightweight, and absorbent is crucial.
- Water reservoir
This indispensable element of a self-watering planter is positioned below the growing bed. Since one can't see into the reservoir, having the means to check the water level, for instance, a monitoring window, will eliminate the requirement for an overflow exit for indoor plant-holders.
The reservoir is filled with water with the help of a pipe. The pipe pours water, either from above or through an inlet at the side of the planter.
- Wicking system/ capillary system
The wicking system helps with carrying water from the water reservoir to the growing bed soil and onto the root of the plant root. To accomplish this, one can use wicks made of absorbent material, for instance, fragments of rope or strips of cloth, with one terminal in the water and the other in the soil in the reservoir.
The soil soaks up the water from the lower part of the self-watering pots, so as long as the water reservoir is kept full, the plants will receive a steady level of moistness transported straight to their roots.
Benefits of Self-Watering Pots:
1. Efficient use of water
With global warming increasing with each passing day, there's a need to pay attention towards cautiously utilizing the elixir of existence – water. Also, preserving water, particularly in dry climates, is a relentless worry for planters. That is when these self-watering pots come into play. They are like a blessing in disguise as they reduce water wastage due to outflow or evaporation.
When water is poured onto the top of the potting soil, some part of it evaporates from the surface. In case of self-watering planters, they draw water from beneath due to which there's a smaller amount of moisture at the surface of the soil and almost all the water is utilized by the plants.
That suggests that the total volume of water one needs for a self-watering planter is significantly lower than for a traditional pot.
2. Offer a consistent supply of water
As stated above, these smart self-watering pots offer plants water as and when they require it. They do not let the plants suffer from extreme moisture variations that can happen otherwise, and hence ensure a consistent supply of water for the plants.
Self-watering plants keep the soil moisturized, consistently. Water is carried at the same rate at which it is utilized by the plants, letting urban gardeners relax knowing that the plants are taking care of themselves.
3. No More Space Issues
As more and more people live in apartments nowadays, gardening has become constricted to containers, terraces, verandas, balconies, and windows. In dense urban areas where the commodity of a spacious home is becoming rare, one could still take up gardening and expect to have a booming result with the help of self-watering planters.
Irrespective of the gardening space available, one can still find the appropriate self-watering pots to start with the garden of their dreams. Even for a tiny space in the balcony, the dull corners in the house, a small space in the kitchen, or the windowsills, there is a wide variety of planters to choose from. They come equipped with the needed features, such as railings or attachments with the hedge and wall designs.
4. Saves Time
When we go on a vacation or work for long hours, it can take a toll on our precious plant's watering schedule; one needs to closely monitor the soil's moisture content and watering requirements for best-growing results.
As a solution, self-watering planters provide us extra time for other activities without spoiling the plant. The plant can go numerous days without any watering, even during the hot summer months. The semi-contained water cycle will continue if there is plenty of water; it would take a long time to gradually evaporate the moisture present in the soil to impair the plant.
5. No Hassle Gardening
When we talk about the gardening routine, self-watering planters offer unmatched ease in maintaining the plants. Bearing in mind one of the common difficulties for most people taking it up as a hobby turns out to be watering, either over-watering or not watering enough. With the luxury of these self-watering planters, watering is never an occasional concern, and long vacations are also convenient without affecting the health and splendour of your garden and plants.
Once the reservoir gets filled with water through the fill point, the plants draw up as much water as they need through the natural capillary wicking mechanism.
So, the lousy urban gardeners no longer have the excuse that they are serial plant killers, talking themselves out of taking up gardening as a hobby because these kinds of self-watering planters help in most of the watering chores for them.
Self-watering pots are becoming more and more famous these days because they offer gardeners convenience and effectiveness in their gardening routine. People nowadays don't have enough time and hence fail to water their plants consistently. And thereby, the best selling point for self-watering containers is that they help make sure there is water in the reservoir instead of keeping an eye on the soil of each potted plant and watering them on their individual needs.
7. Encourages Healthy Root Growth
Knowledgeable gardeners know that insufficient watering can lead to reduced root growth and support. Sturdy root systems require sufficient and deep watering. But this might increase the chances of water stagnation, which can result in root rots.
The self-watering pots allow deep watering of the planter without any problems of root rot. The water is kept in the outer slot of the container and spreads in the roots when needed, stimulating roots to grow deep to find the moisture supply.
Self-watering pots allow consistent watering at all depths without the risk of water stagnation or root rotting. Thereby, they help water the plant whenever needed, eliminating the danger of leaves changing their colour to yellow even during temperature spikes and strong winds.
8. Cut back on diseases
The most common mistake committed by urban gardeners, while taking care of their plants, is overwatering. It can starve the plant of oxygen, further leading to diseases caused by fungus. On the other hand, under-watering doesn't provide the plants with enough water required by them to sustain the structure of their cells, carry nutrients, and perform photosynthesis.
Self-watering planters can boost the health of plants by offering the exact amount of water they require. They use a capillary mechanism to provide moisture to the soil. The water is drawn onto the surface in such a manner that it doesn't come in contact with the leaves or stem of the plant, thereby saving them from powdery mildew and many other moulds.
9. Nutrients are preserved in the soil:
Overwatering results in the loss of valuable soil nutrients. Since the self-watering pots are enclosed, the soil nutrients are preserved in the soil and are prevented from being washed away.
When planted in a regular container, the additional water drains out of the passage at the bottom, washing away the nutrients present in the soil, which requires gardeners to add organic manure or feed for a plant to thrive.
10. No weeding:
Plastic mulch blankets the surface of the soil, thereby preventing the growth of weeds. Since the water is provided in a balanced manner, the growth of weeds is reduced, allowing the plant to flourish well.
11. Protect Your Delicate and Exotic Species
There are certain exotic species of plants that need a consistent amount of water to survive severe and extreme weather. With self-watering planters planting such species and taking care of such species is a lot simpler. That is because the self-watering pots ensure a steady and suitable supply of water straight to the soil.
12. Fresh Produce Free of Toxins
Now that people are becoming more aware of the risks of common agricultural contaminants to our health and well-being, there's no better time to take up gardening and start gaining the advantages of growing your fresh food toxin-free.
13. Aesthetic Aspect
One can rely on these self-watering planters to enhance the look of your interior, especially when you select something contemporary in a seamless design that doesn't create a visual mess but fits flawlessly in the interiors and contributes to elegance.
Along with freshening up with the foliage of plants, self-watering pots are significant in enhancing your interior décor and adding texture to it.
What are the shortcomings of Self-Watering Planters?
Self-watering containers are a blessing for busy people, they're environment-friendly, and they can improve plant health – but there are a few shortcomings to these planting systems:
Self-watering planters are not appropriate for all types of plant varieties: Self-watering planters are not the best choice for succulents, orchids, and some other plants, which require dry soil potting between waterings. The presence of moisture at all times will lead to root rot in these kinds of plants.
Self-watering planters don't function fine when kept outdoors in humid or rainy weather: Outdoor self-watering containers will become waterlogged by high humidity and rain. A run-off exit helps, but it doesn't avoid the extra water from entering the soil in the first place and causing it to become damp rather than remaining consistently moist.
What does one need to know about maintaining a Self-Watering Pot?
While self-watering planters are very easy to sustain, there are a few things you need to do to help make sure that the plants are getting the moisture and nutrients they require.
If a hydroponic system is used for the self-watering planters, then nutrients should be added to the water reservoir at regular intervals. The nutrient solution should be sustained at appropriate levels, and the growing medium should be flushed out with freshwater, every couple of weeks, to make sure that the toxic fertilizer salts are not concentrated.
Be certain to incorporate some well-aged, disinfected compost in your potting soil and use a fresh batch of soil mix in every planting season.
If a commercial self-watering potting mixture is used rather than the homemade ones, then the best method of fertilization is to scatter a little amount of slow-release fertilizer over the soil surface before planting the plants. That permits the fertilizer to gradually make its way to the bottom of the growing bed as the plants flourish.
What Is the Best Self-Watering Potting Mix?
For a self-watering planter to work appropriately, it's important to choose the correct potting soil. One can buy potting soils from the markets, that are formulated mainly for self-watering pots or formulate their own potting mix with equal portions of perlite, peat moss, good-quality compost, and coconut coir.
What Plants Are Best for Self-Watering Pots?
Houseplants that desire consistently moist soil comprise smaller, leafy plants, for example, spike mosses, baby's tears, and coleus, along with larger thin-leaved plants, for example, umbrella palms, boston ferns, and peace lilies. Lettuces, herbs, and spinach also do good in self-watering planters.