Gardening Ideas forum: Article: Self-Watering Pots....A Fantastic Invention!

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Name: Dana P
Canton, OH (Zone 6a)
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bloominholes2fill
Sep 9, 2017 7:11 PM CST
Once I discovered self-watering pots for my annuals, there was no turning back! The reason is that watering each and every day isn't my idea of a good time, especially when I was working and had small children. Some days, I was simply too tuckered out to water. Sighing! Year after year, for 28+ years, I've watched the neighbor across the street water her nursery bought hanging pots that have the bottom drainage holes, each and every evening, in the Summer, because if those types of pots aren't vigilantly watered each and every day, the plants are lost quickly and there's money down the drain. Sad I always transplant nursery grown annuals in to a self-watering pot, it only makes sense in my mind, because the soil remains moist longer, with a water reserve from which the roots can draw, eventually establishing a deep and healthy root system, resulting in healthy plants, long-term.. Thumbs up

I only use the kind of self-watering pots with a drainage hole in the side of the pot. Those tube things make no sense, at least in my mind, because they don't allow water to soak through the entire pot full of soil, from top to bottom. It seems counter-productive. Mother Nature waters from above ground, not the other way around, so really, why reinvent the wheel? If I find a pot with no drainage hole, I'll turn it into a self-watering pot myself by drilling a drainage hole in the side of the pot, allowing for a reservoir to build up and the excess water to exit when it's full! When the water starts draining from the side hole, it's time to stop watering because that's when you know the reservoir is full, and the soil is completely moistened. Easy peasy! It takes out ALL of the guess-work! Hurray!

Think of it as a pot with a built-in saucer. The prefab self-watering pots include a false bottom in the pot, which holds the soil out of the reservoir. So when a plastic (or easily drillable), 8" or larger, pot has no drainage hole, create your own self-watering pot by first drilling a 1/2" or so hole in the side of the pot, at about an inch or two from the bottom. It takes some patience, because the pot can buckle and crack, if you push too hard with the drill. Press gently and allow the drill to do the work. Keep in mind that the bottom of the drilled hole makes for the top of the reservoir or water line. For false bottom pots, drill the hole with the bottom of the hole even with the false bottom. Next, fasten a small piece of window screen over the hole on the inside of the pot, and then a small piece of landscape fabric over the screen on the inside to aid in containing the soil, and keeping surfaces on the clean side. Then fill the bottom reservoir with stones up to, and level with, the top of the water line. If your pot has a false bottom, there's no need to add the stones in the bottom.Then fill with soil and plant away! Smiling Tip: I keep the plastic nets, that oranges come in, to fill 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, your stone sack is reusable! It's a good idea to double up the netting for strength.

Caveat: It's really up to you, but I only do this with plastic and other types of pots that are easy to drill. As far as ceramic pots are concerned, if it doesn't have a drainage hole in the bottom, to use with a saucer, I don't buy the pot. Drilling ceramic isn't impossible, but it takes a ceramic drill bit and way more patience than I really have, and you risk cracking or breaking that very expensive pot. Blinking

So, if you dislike watering your outdoor potted plants every single day, try making your own self-watering pots, and you'll have a little more free time to play in the dirt! Hurray!
Happy Gardening, my Friends!! Smiling
"The grass is only greener where it's watered and fertilized." - Yours Truly
Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, then you should ALWAYS be Batman! - Unknown
Dana
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[Last edited by bloominholes2fill - Aug 26, 2018 11:35 PM (+)]
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Name: Ginny G
Central Iowa (Zone 5a)
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Legalily
Sep 21, 2017 9:12 PM CST
Great idea Dana Hurray!
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Name: Dana P
Canton, OH (Zone 6a)
Project Junkie
Daylilies Butterflies Hummingbirder Cat Lover Dog Lover Roses
Region: Ohio Winter Sowing Composter Birds Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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bloominholes2fill
Sep 22, 2017 9:22 AM CST
Thank You! @Ginny
"The grass is only greener where it's watered and fertilized." - Yours Truly
Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, then you should ALWAYS be Batman! - Unknown
Dana
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https://garden.org/blogs/view/...
[Last edited by bloominholes2fill - Sep 22, 2017 9:27 AM (+)]
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Name: Ginny G
Central Iowa (Zone 5a)
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Legalily
Sep 22, 2017 9:39 AM CST
I have a bunch of the pots in my basement and actually forgot I had them until I ready this D'Oh! D'Oh! D'Oh! I also got the kids to make regular pots into self-watering! Next year Thumbs up Thumbs up
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Name: Ken
East S.F. Bay Area (Zone 9a)
Region: California
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CaliFlowers
Oct 25, 2018 2:04 PM CST
@bloominholes2fill

Hi Dana,

Great tips. I've had trouble drilling certain ceramics as well. I found a "newer" type of drill bit at the hardware store last year, and it's remarkable how well it penetrates the hardest glazes. I used it to drill drain holes in some ceramic cups after my "conventional" masonry bits (left) simply skated on the surface.

Thumb of 2018-10-25/CaliFlowers/9c0cda

The one you want is the bit on the right. They're less expensive, and the aggressive profile requires far less pressure to get started.

A note to anyone who will be drilling ceramics for the first time; always put a backup such as a block of wood behind the place you are drilling, it will prevent breakage and minimize chipout on the back side. Also, with the long ogive profile of this bit, you can stop drilling when the tip pokes through the pot, and finish the hole from the other side. This can almost eliminate breakout and chipping. A little water will keep things cool.
Name: Dana P
Canton, OH (Zone 6a)
Project Junkie
Daylilies Butterflies Hummingbirder Cat Lover Dog Lover Roses
Region: Ohio Winter Sowing Composter Birds Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
bloominholes2fill
Oct 26, 2018 3:11 PM CST
Great advice Thank You! Ken!
"The grass is only greener where it's watered and fertilized." - Yours Truly
Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, then you should ALWAYS be Batman! - Unknown
Dana
http://shutterstock.com/g/Dana...
https://garden.org/blogs/view/...
Name: Deborah
midstate South Carolina (Zone 8a)
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Deebie
Dec 7, 2018 11:41 AM CST
For those who already have the masonry bit, you can use a small diameter bit (or pilot bit) to drill a small hole, then you will be able to use the masonry bit. This prevents the masonry bit from sliding around the surface, as it has something (the small hole) to anchor it in place, so that you can drill the larger diameter hole in your ceramics.

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