How Do A self watering Pots Work?

How does a self watering pot work? Plant health and beauty is easy to achieve when you have a system that provides your plants with regular water and nutrients without you needing to monitor them.

The self watering planter system provides your plants with water delivered directly to the roots without over or under watering your plants. The hidden reservoir of water consistently supplies your plant with water, while your plants thrive.

What is a self watering Pot or Planter?

self watering planters are a way to save time and money while ensuring your plants get the right amount of water without you needing to tend them. self watering plants use a wicking system to pull water from a built-in reservoir beneath the plant into the base of the planter.

The wick makes the roots and soil around the roots moist, so your plants can sip the water they want when they want.

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The pots are popular for a multitude of reasons. The pots are an inexpensive way to give your plants water when you work a lot or travel frequently. They can also help prevent the over or under watering of your plants throughout your workweek.

What are the main Elements of a self watering Pot?

If you are asking yourself, “how does self watering pots work?” then you need to know the different components that go into their manufacturing to understand the full concept.

Element 1. Wick

The wick is how your plants and their roots get water and oxygen. The wick starts at the bottom of your planter in the reservoir and loops through the bottom of the potting soil around the roots of your plant. You put water in the reservoir, and the wick sucks the water up the wick into the soil directly to the roots.

The system keeps the moisture and water around the roots where the plant needs them. The wick also has one or two different entrance points into the reservoir, so the water gets evenly distributed in the base of the pot.

Element 2. Water Level Indicator or window

Your self watering plant system will have two different ways for you to monitor the water levels in your planter. Your planter will have a water level indicator, which uses a float to pull down the fill-level indicator. As the water level drops, the plunger drops with it, so you know you will need to refill the reservoir.

Some planters are see-through, so you can see how much water is still in the reservoir without the guessing.

Element 3. Water Reservoir

The water reservoir can be of any size. The reservoir will match the size of the tub so that a twenty-gallon planter will have a five-gallon reservoir. The smaller the planter, the smaller the reservoir will be.

The water reservoir will supply water to your plants through the wick that hangs into the reservoir. The soil will receive water through the wick, which will match the needs of the plants. The plants and wick system will only take what it needs.

Element 4. Drainage plug

As you take care of your plants, you may need to clean out the reservoir to prevent the water from stagnating as time goes on. Most planters come with a drain plug, so you can easily empty the reservoir without taking your planter apart.

There will be a plug in the bottom of the pot that should be easy to remove while being tight enough to prevent leaks.

Element 5. Overflow hole

The overflow hole can help protect your plants. If you fill your reservoir too full, it is more likely to cause your plants to start to rot. Most planters have a fill line, which you should not fill beyond.

It is tempting to add more water to the reservoir, especially if you are planning on traveling, but this makes it more likely to kill your plants. The overflow hole will drain off any water that ends up above the fill line.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self watering Pots?

self watering pots come in different sizes, colors, and types. Each one has unique features that make it an ideal place for your plants to grow, but not all plants thrive, and certain conditions make them less than ideal.

What are the Advantages of self watering Pots?

Multiple Days of Water

Depending on the size of your planter and reservoir, you can have anywhere from two days to fifteen days. You should find one that fits the size of your plants and will provide them with the space to grow. Many features go into how your plants thrive with the water.

The temperatures your plant is exposed to can cause the water to evaporate or dry the soil more quickly. It can also cause your plants to drink more water than they normally would.

Efficient Water Use

Over or under watering is a frequent problem for many people. The self watering system allows your plants to choose when and how they water themselves. You will not use too much or too little water as the plant sips only what it needs.

The system places the water around the roots of your plants and not the rest of the soil. The efficiency of the watering reduces the amount of water that ends up in your planter. Your plants will get what they need and nothing more.

Prevents Disease and bugs breeding

Overwatering some types of plants can cause different types of fungal diseases to develop. It also reduces the chances of bugs that breed around water will lay eggs in the soil. The self watering system keeps the water by the roots and not resting at the top of the soil.

What are the Disadvantages of self watering Pots?

Problems with self watering pots are few but specific for particular kinds of situations.

Root Rot

Root rot is something that happens to roots that sit in water. It is a common way plants that are over watered die. The same thing can happen if you overfill the reservoir or loop the wick too many times through the soil. Too much water ends up around the roots causing them to rot away and eventually killing the plant completely.


Too much water around the roots and the stem can cause mold to develop. Mold, along with root rot, will cause your plants to die quickly. Too much water can cause the mold to grow throughout the soil.

Plant Size

The self watering system works best for smaller plants or gardens. They do not work well for large plants or growing operations. Shrubs and fruit trees are too big for the self watering system to work. The root system that comes from these plants is too expansive for the self watering system to work.

The self watering system works by letting the roots of the plant to grow towards the source of water. Larger plants such as trees need to let their roots expand, and trying to keep them in a smaller planter will not let them grow correctly.

How do you set up a self watering Pot or Planter?

How self watering pots work is similar between the different brands and types. Setting one up is easy, and anyone can do it with a bit of work.

Assemble your Planter

Your planter will come with step-by-step instructions to put it together correctly, though they should be similar in design. Your reservoir will separate the water you will add from the potting soil for your plant.

There should be room for a wick to dangle down into the reservoir through it should be buried near the bottom of the planter’s soil.

Indicator Assembly

Your planter will most probably come with an indicator, which will mount towards the top of the soil or attach near the side of the pot. You will add the soil and replant your plants before filling the reservoir through the separate fill area.

Pack down the Soil

Once you have plants in your new planter, you will need to make sure there are no air pockets in the soil. You will need to water the plant from the top to moisten the soil and remove any air pockets.

The water will also drip down to the reservoir, which you can then fill with water. Some types come with an inner liner that lets you lift your plant out of the main pot so that you can fill the hidden reservoir beneath.

Water and Monitor

You will need to monitor and water your plant from the top to ensure the system is working correctly before you let the self watering system take over.

You should set up and monitor the system for a couple of weeks before you decide to take any trips or vacations.

Are there Seasonal Restrictions?

If you are asking yourself, “how long do self watering pots work?” then the answer is, depends on where you live and what kind of plants you have. If you are living in an area where you can guarantee moderate temperatures and regular sunshine, you will probably be able to use your planter all year long, but seasons can limit when and how you use your pot.

If you live in an area where the temperatures will drop, you will want to stop using the planter outdoors. A frozen reservoir will not deliver any water to your plants. If you live in an area where the temperatures drop, you will want to clean up and clean out your planter at the end of the season.

It is best to remove your planter before the cold weather starts. Clean out the potting soil and empty reservoir. Make sure the pot and reservoir are free of any leftover soil and dirt and are completely dry before you store your planter in a safe, dry spot for the winter.

If you live in a more temperate area, you will not need to clean up and clean out your planer as the seasons’ turn. It is good to periodically check to make sure the water reservoir is not growing any mold and that the wick is still in the right place in the reservoir, though no other seasonal maintenance is a requirement.

How often do you fill self watering Pots?

The beauty of the self watering system is that once it is set up, you should not need to babysit it. Depending on the size of the planter, you should check the indicator for the reservoir every couple of days until you know how much water your plant regularly consumes.

Once you know the system is working, then you can extend or shorten the time as your plant requires.

You should be filling your reservoir around once a week for regular plants and flowers, though some plants need more water than others. You will need to watch the weather, and if you live in a dry, hot climate, you can expect your plants to drink more water than a place that has lower temperatures.

Final Thoughts

The self watering pot system is the ideal thing for busy plant lovers and travelers. You can follow your passion and your job without worry about your plants dying from neglect.

You can watch your plants flourish as they take the water they need without you needing to water them constantly.