Containers forum: Opinions: Self-watering pots

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Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
Mar 28, 2015 7:34 PM CST
Hi All,

I saw Lowes has brightly colored, multiple sized (itty bitty to huge) self watering flower pots for very reasonable prices. I walked away to think about it and vaguely recall reading that they can become a mess with roots growing into the water reservoir and rotting. I'm sure whatever I read included more than that, but that's what came to mind. And in looking at these pots, the insert didn't readily come out and I didn't want to break it if it wasn't meant to come out. And then I wondered how would I know how much water is in there? And what if I overwater and the water has no where to go? And wait, what happens when it rains a lot??? At any rate.....,

Does anyone have experience with these types of pots?
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 28, 2015 8:04 PM CST
Ann, I use self-watering pots as well as flower-box planters... were the ones you were looking at the types with a hole near the bottom where you can add water? That will also act as an "overflow" if the plant gets overwatered from the top, such as with excess rain. My plants do great in those types of containers; in fact, the flower boxes that I hang on our deck railing on the south side of our house are the first thing that I've actually been able to grow flowers in there during the summer -- the midsummer sun directly from the south gets pretty brutal even up north here!


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Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
Mar 28, 2015 9:19 PM CST
I'd say your flowers are doing great in your container!

No, these are just pots with a grate type piece of plastic inside the pot a couple inches from the base, to form the water reservoir. There's not holes in the pot itself, which was my concern. I'll have to look for the version you have, which makes total sense and addresses my concerns of the one's I saw.

Thanks for your reply!
Name: Jean
Fleming Island, FL (Zone 9a)
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qwilter
Mar 29, 2015 5:36 PM CST
Or get in inexpensive one & drill a hole so excess water can drain out.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 29, 2015 5:59 PM CST
Good suggestion, Jean! Thumbs up
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Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
Mar 30, 2015 9:13 AM CST
Wouldn't they just be a normal pots then? I didn't purchase any, but I was interested in the "self watering" claim. Or do you mean drill on the side of the pot at the top of the water reservoir?
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Mar 30, 2015 9:28 AM CST
Ann, that's what I took it to mean... but ?

The ones I have actually have an opening to the water reservoir, on the side of the pot near the bottom, where you can add water to the reservoir or it will also act as an "overflow".

The flower boxes that I hang on the deck railing also have overflow holes -- this link shows a diagram of how they work
http://demandware.edgesuite.net/aabf_prd/on/demandware.stati...
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Name: Jean
Fleming Island, FL (Zone 9a)
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qwilter
Mar 30, 2015 10:48 AM CST
I was thinking to drill the hole to be the reservoir overflow. That is how we do the tomato planters we make out of 5 gal buckets.
Blessed are the Quilters for they are the Piecemakers.
Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
Mar 30, 2015 11:54 AM CST
Sorry to be slow about this.... how big of a hole and how many?

So if the water will be below the hole and the plastic reservoir divider and not touching the soil, will it still be absorbed? Or is the idea that the roots grow down into the water reservoir?

At the end of the season, do you have to remove the soil and clean out the reservoir? Do roots and soil get in there that need cleaned out? Or no?

Thanks for your patience and explanations!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Mar 30, 2015 6:20 PM CST
Roots definitely get down into the reservoir -- my flower boxes get packed with roots by the end of the season!

On the other hand, I have had plants in the same self-watering pots for several seasons...

Confused
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Name: Danita
GA (Zone 7b)
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Danita
Mar 31, 2015 11:08 AM CST
I don't know anything about the Lowe's pots, but I remember reading (on a build-your-own-selfwatering-container website) to use landscape fabric/weedblock on top of the grate part and before adding the potting-mix to keep roots out of the reservoir.
(Zone 6a)
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Celene
Apr 27, 2015 8:58 AM CST
I went through a self-watering pot phase. A very wise gardener told me they're called "self-watering" because you'll be watering them "your self". It's funnier if you hear it spoken, I guess. They cost more, and didn't offer a substantial advantage for watering. Exception: Wicked watering for gesneriads, which is completely different.
Name: Dana
Canton, OH (Zone 6a)
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bloominholes2fill
Apr 23, 2016 8:32 PM CST
Self watering pots are all I use, but only the kind with a drainage hole in the side of the pot. The drainage hole allows for excess water to exit the reservoir instead of waterlogging the plants! When the water starts draining from the hole, it's time to stop watering. Easy peasy! It takes out *all* of the guess-work! Hurray!

The idea is that the soil remains moist longer, while keeping a water reserve from which the roots can draw, which establishes a deep and healthy root system, and you don't have to water every single day! Keep in mind, though, to always water from the top! That's how Mother Nature does it, so really, there's no need to reinvent the wheel...

Think of it as a pot with a saucer, but all in one piece. If there's a plastic spacer in the bottom, it's not necessary to use landscape fabric over it. The spacer is there to keep most of the bottom soil out of the water reservoir because most plants don't like sopping wet feet!

When I purchase a standard flower pot or hanging basket, I make them self watering pots by drilling just one hole, with a half inch drill bit, in the side of the pot, at about an inch or two from the bottom. The height really depends on the size of the pot. A huge patio or landscape size pot will need a deeper reservoir than the standard pot used for Summer annuals. Keep in mind that the bottom of the drilled hole makes for the top of the reservoir or water line. I then fasten a small piece of screen over the hole on the inside of the pot. Then fill the bottom reservoir with stones, leveled with the top of the water line. Tip: I keep the plastic nets, that oranges come in, and I fill them with stones and tie them off to place in the bottom of the pot, so that when removing dead plants and soil at the end of the growing season, they are reusable for the next season! Be sure to double up the netting for strength. (I just got tired of needing to get stones every season because they wind up in the compost bin along with the previous season's soil!) Then place a piece of landscape fabric over the stones, fill with dirt and plant away!

Hope this clears up some questions Smiling

Happy Gardening!!
"Where flowers bloom, so does hope" Lady Bird Johnson

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