Gardening has become increasingly popular over the past few years as more environmentally conscious individuals are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. But not everyone has the conditions required to start a garden. Yes, I’m talking about you, big city dwellers.
As big cities are known to be overly crowded places, many people live in tightly packed apartments with small balconies, having very little to no space at all to grow anything. Despite this, they’ve found ways to transform their little balconies, and furnish their windowsill and patios with more greenery, by growing both edible and decorative plants.
From finding the right space to selecting the right species and pots, there is much to be considered when it comes to using plants to decorate with purpose. However, what city dwellers worry about the most is whether they will have the time and ability to take care of their plants.
The good news is, you don’t need to have a green thumb to have fabulous-looking plants, as self watering planters offer a convenient way to have an indoor garden with little maintenance. If you never heard about self-watering planters, you probably have some questions on your mind.
What Are Self-Watering Planters and How Do They Work?
If you are a plant lover but are afraid that owning plants requires constant tending and watering to keep them alive, then you may consider investing in self-watering pots a great solution. But let’s be clear from the start. Even though the name suggests otherwise, these planters aren’t actually going to water themselves. However, they are designed in a way that will allow them to deliver moisture to the plants without you having to do so.
They do so by having a reservoir of water and a wicking system which provide a constant source of moisture to the plant’s roots so you don’t need to water them as frequently. Self-watering pots work using a process called capillary action. This implies allowing the plant to draw up water as and when it needs it to prevent overwatering.
There are so many designs of self watering pots on the market and it might be difficult to decide which ones will make the best use in your urban garden. Here some tips on what to consider to make the right pick.
Considerations When Choosing Self-Watering Planters
Shape and Size
Since different designs can sustain a different amount of soil and water, picking the right size and shape is another important feature you need to consider, especially if you want to put multiple plants in one pot. Horizontal, elongated planters are great for displaying several types of plants in one pot, while vertical pots are better suited for single house plants or vegetable plants. The size and shape of the planter you choose are usually dependent on the type of plant species you want to grow, so make sure to get informed about the plant’s growing needs.
Depending on the design, the planters can sustain more or less water. Also, the reservoir is located at the bottom of the planter, therefore you must make sure that the plant’s roots will be close enough to the wicking system that delivers the water supply. That said, you don’t want to place a small plant in a pot that’s too big for it, otherwise, its roots will be too small to be able to wick water from the reservoir.
Some self-watering planters come with water indicators that measure how full the reservoir is, when it needs to be refilled or how long it can go without watering it. This can be a useful feature especially if you travel often or forget to fill up the reservoir regularly.
Which material you choose for your self-watering planter can eventually impact both its durability and appearance. Most are made from plastic, others from ceramic and even wood.
Plastic tends to accommodate a variety of styles and many people choose plastic as it’s easy to maintain and is more lightweight than other materials. However, the downside of plastic is that it isn’t very durable, it can easily crack and it’s prone to UV damage. Also, plastic planters usually don’t have a very attractive design.
Luckily, there are some modern alternatives to plastic like injection-moulded HDPE. This type of innovative plastic is a UV and corrosion-resistant material, meaning the pots made of it will be able to withstand all kinds of weather. In addition, HDPE planters are also BPA-free, food-safe, and completely recyclable.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with raw and traditional beauty, ceramic planters are a great choice. They look more expensive but aren’t very long-lasting either as they can easily break.
And then, there are pots made of solid wood, like oak. These pots are treated with special finishes that make them UV-resistant to ensure greater durability. Self watering containers made of white oak are corrosion-resistant, and BPA-free, and not only are they hard-wearing but they are also aesthetically appealing.
Most of the planters come with drainage holes, however, not every self-watering pots have them. Even though the risk of overwatering is less with self-watering planters, some designs still feature holes to be extra safe. This allows any excess water to seep out of the pots, which protects sensitive roots from rot, fungus, and bacteria as excess water is known to close the air pockets in the soil which can further cause the plant to be overwatered and die.
Another major reason why drainage holes are important is that they prevent salt buildup in the potting soil. Drainage holes allow the water to flush out regularly through the holes in the bottom of the container ensuring that salt doesn’t accumulate in the soil over time.
Aside from all these factors, self-watering planters also have tubes that are part of the platform designed to keep the soil and the plant separate from the water reservoir. Some tubes have caps that are meant to keep debris and pests out of the reservoir.
Another important feature is the length of the tubes in regard to the plant’s size. For instance, if the tubes are 2 inches in length and the pot is 5 inches this allows 3 inches of space for healthy plant growth and development.