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Self Watering Planters - Use or Build a Self Watering Container

Updated on July 5, 2017
JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

To garden is to lose one's self in the earth while gifting yourself and your family with wholesome goodness from your own backyard.

Use a Self Watering Planter for Flowers, Vegetables or Herbs

Most vegetables do well with an inch or more of water per week during the peak of their growing season. During the hot part of the summer that can mean that you need to be watering several times a week. For many gardeners that is impractical, so a great alternative is to use a self watering planter. These planters have a built in reservoir that wicks into the root system to keep the moisture where it needs to be for optimum growth. One of the more popular uses is for self watering tomato planters to help with watering your tomatoes. Here is more on these ingenious planters.

Newly planted herbs in an EarthBox
Newly planted herbs in an EarthBox | Source

Self Watering Planters

Build or Buy Your Planter?

Despite what the name says, the typical self watering container does not actually do the full watering job itself. It would be more accurate to call it a planter with a built in water reservoir. You don't normally connect plumbing to one of these, but simply fill them with water and have it use the reservoir over an extended period of time. You do have to check them and learn the ample use time in between fillings, but after that, you will find these type of planters very useful. This is especially true if you travel or do not have time to tend to your plants every day.

The advantage to any container garden or planter is that you can put your flowers or vegetables in spots that are not typical gardens, like patios or even apartment balconies. But the big problem with most container grown plants is that they need to be watered on a regular basis, yet if they are not properly drained they can actually drown a plant if they are exposed to too much rainfall or just over watering by the gardener.

Self watering containers are a good way to address the watering problem. By making a planter that has a reservoir, along with some type of wicking system to feed the water as needed, you can go a much longer time between times that you have to actually water the container. It's really a life saver in some hotter parts of the country, which in months like July and August, tend to suck the life out of plants.

There are components to buy that make the job of building your own planter somewhat simpler if that's the route you want to take. Making one of these is not that difficult. You can do it with just a couple of five gallon containers, a few miscellaneous parts, a drill with hole saw - most things you have around the house.

Or just simply buying a self watering container is an option. You can find them starting at around fifteen dollars, and going up from there.

Build or buy a self watering planter, the choice is yours.

EarthBox 1010011 Garden Kit, Terra Cotta
EarthBox 1010011 Garden Kit, Terra Cotta

I grew basil in my boxes this year and have been making fresh pesto for months!


EarthBox Self Watering Planters

If you are interested in simply purchasing a self watering planter, one of the most popular is the Earth Box planter system. This is a fairly good size unit, that has an optional stand that makes it possible to grow vegetables and even climbing plants like vine beans and sweet corn. It includes a patented internal self-watering grid that makes it impossible to over water the plants or flowers you house in the EarthBox.

EarthBox Victories!

Leaf lettuce
Leaf lettuce

Using Rain Barrels

Since your self watering containers will be outside, what better water source is there than Mother Nature's rain near by in a rain barrel.

Collecting rain with a rain barrel is easy and while the original investment may take a few years to make up, I believe the investment is at the least two-fold: 1) you are recycling a gift from the earth, and 2) nothing is better for your outdoor plants than what Mother Nature gives us.

In 2015, North Central Texas received a record number inches of rain in the spring. I didn't even need the water in our rain barrel. However, when the rain stopped, and the temperature climbed to the upper 90's, I used our collected rain for two weeks before using hose water. That is definitely $avings!

Build Your Own Self Watering Container

Perhaps you are skilled enough to create your own self watering container. This one would work well on the balcony.

What are Your Favorite Planters?

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    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 3 years ago from Keller, Texas

      @Heidi Vincent: Good Luck!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Interesting idea, jsr54! I will try these when I plant my new set of vegetables.

    • lisln profile image

      LorLinda 4 years ago from Denver Colorado

      This does sure come in handy because I tend to forget to water my plants. Great lens!

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 4 years ago from Keller, Texas

      @Wayne Rasku: That's awesome, I wish you luck!!

    • Wayne Rasku profile image

      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      I created my own self watering container last week, but it was not nearly as easy as the one in your video. Now, I'm going to go try this method... just in time for spring. Thanks

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from Covington, LA

      I have several of these "self watering" pots. They work well when you also use water absorbing soil polymers in the potting soil.