Buying Guide for Self-Watering Planters
Why buy self-watering planters?
Many people love the greenery and decoration that flowers and other plants can lend to their homes. But if you’ve struggled with giving plants the right amount of water or travel away from home a lot, you may think that live plants aren’t an option for your living space since you can’t care for them properly. That’s where self-watering planters and pots come in. Their self-regulating wicking system ensures that the soil maintains a consistent moisture level as long as its reservoir contains water. Thus these self-watering pots are the best way to prevent under or overwatering your plants and ensure that your plants always get enough water. They also ensure that all the water goes into the plant’s roots instead of evaporating before they can take it in.
What should you look for in self-watering planters?
- Capacity: When picking a self-watering planter or pot, see how much water it can hold. The water is stored in the reservoir, so you’ll want to check its reservoir to get an idea of its capacity. The more water the self-watering system can hold, the longer you can go without watering your plant or plants. In addition to or instead of listing the capacity, some models will give you a timeframe for how long they’ll last in between watering sessions or how many times per week or month you’ll have to refill the water.
- Plants: When picking one out, you’ll want to consider the number and type of plants you plan to keep in your planter or pot. Generally, you’ll want to look for an elongated, horizontal planter for several plants at once and a smaller, vertical pot for a single plant or vegetable. Some smaller planters may be able to hold a few plants on the smaller side or enjoy a snugger fit. If you have a plant that needs a lot of room to grow or has long roots, look for a deeper pot to ensure they have enough space. Some extra-large models will be suitable for bigger indoor plants like corn plants or birds of paradise. These tend to be taller and narrower, 1.5 to several feet high.
- Extras: There are a few extra, convenient features you can look for in your self-watering planters and pots. Some models have a built-in drainage system, which certain plants require to stay healthy. And in some designs with drainage holes, the holes can be opened or plugged as needed. Other models are elevated to allow for better air circulation, which prevents mold growth and rot. Sometimes you’ll be able to find weather- and UV-resistant planters, so they can be used indoors or outdoors. Also, keep an eye out for models with a water gauge to show how full the reservoir is so that you’ll always be able to tell when it needs refilling.
Are there any plants you shouldn’t use self-watering planters for?
While self-watering plants are an excellent choice for most house plants, there are some varieties of plants for which they’ll do more harm than good. Some plants prefer well-drained soil or even require dry soil to thrive properly. These are usually plants that are native to deserts, which have to dry out in between watering sessions and are at high risk for overwatering and root rot. The most common houseplants that fit this bill are cacti and succulents, so you’ll want to skip buying a self-watering planter if you own either of these.
Alternatively, plants that prefer super moist soil aren’t a great choice for self-watering planters for the opposite reason. Since self-watering planters ration out water, the soil doesn’t stay as consistently damp as these plants would like or need. Among others, this includes plants like ferns, peace lilies, prayer plants, and some varieties of alocasias.
Our Picks for the Best Self-Watering Planters
GardenBasix Elongated Self-Watering Planter
A self-watering planter box that's capable of holding multiple plants at once and keeping them all properly watered.
Pros: If you are looking for a way to keep a cluster of plants healthy and thriving in the same pot without worrying about leaks, this self-watering planter is an excellent choice. There are two layers—one being an inner plastic lining that nestles inside the bright white planter, which reduces leaking, even with its built-in drainage hole. The size makes it ideal for small herb plants or for transplanting houseplants, and the water-level indicator ensures that your plants receive the right amount of water without any guesswork. Its lightweight and compact design makes it easy to place almost anywhere as an indoor or outdoor planter.
Cons: The outer pot is made from thin plastic and may warp or deform over time. Also, some found the instructions too limited in detail, which could make it challenging to assemble or use the planter correctly. The inner lining is also quite a bit shallower than the exterior planter, limiting the types and sizes of plants you can grow.
Bottom Line: If you’re after a self-watering window box or want to keep more than one houseplant in the same pot, try this rectangular plant box. Some buyers have reported significant improvements in plant growth and health, making it an ideal option for anyone who wants to keep their plants healthy and looking their best.
VIVOSUN Self-Watering Hanging Baskets
A pair of hanging, self-watering basket planters that are strong enough for both indoor or outdoor use.
Pros: These reinforced PP plastic self-watering planters provide a similar look and aesthetic to hanging wicker baskets. The planters are anti-rust, anti-fade, anti-peel, and anti-dent. This will keep them looking nicer for longer and ensure they’re durable enough to hang outside and inside your home. Nor will you have to worry about your plants’ roots sitting in water should it rain, thanks to the handy drainage plug at the bottom of each planter. You also have four different color choices to better match them to your interior or exterior decor.
Cons: Keep in mind that these two self-watering planters are actually two slightly different sizes; one is a few inches bigger than the other. Nor are there any alternate sizing options, should you want something larger or smaller.
Bottom Line: Self-watering planters aren’t limited to traditional pots that have to rest on a countertop or table. If you want to hang plants around your home while stilling benefit from a self-watering pot, this pair of round basket-like planters are an excellent choice.
Gardenix Decor Self-Watering Flower Pots with Water Level Indicator
A set of self-watering planters with a simple, classic design and enough color choices that match just about any home decor or style.
Pros: White or cream tends to be the standard color for self-watering planters, and other neutral shades are also common choices. If you want something more vibrant, this set of three self-watering planters is available in teal, purple, rich terracotta red, white, and gray. And the colors are resistant to fading, even in direct sunlight. All three planters have a 7-inch diameter and come with an inner basket that holds the plant and watering system. The water level indicator is clearly marked, easy to read, and equally easy to refill; you have to pour the water into the deposit slots on the inner baskets—no need to remove the entire system to restock your water supplies. As a bonus, you get three packets of pH-balanced potting soil with your purchase, one for each planter.
Cons: While you can display these self-watering planters outside, just be aware that they don’t have any built-in drainage.
Bottom Line: If you own or plan to buy multiple flowers, herbs, or plants for your living space and want to ensure they’re always properly watered, this set of self-watering planters is an ideal choice. It’s a great option if you’re after something more colorful than the usual white or cream-colored models.
ETGLCOZY Self-Watering Planter Pots
This set of self-watering pots not only come in different sizes for different plants but allow for a clear, unencumbered view of their water level at all times.
Pros: These self-watering planters are a great option if you want to own several plants of different sizes, especially if those plants have different watering needs. They’re available in sets of four, five, or six planters, each in a different size. But regardless of quantity and size, each planter comes with a water reservoir below the pot, which is completely clear so you can easily see the water level at all times. These self-watering planters work differently; a cotton rope is attached at the bottom of the pots and reaches down into the water reservoirs, allowing the plants and soil to absorb the water. Several aeration holes at the bottom ensure that the plants’ roots get plenty of airflow and circulation. The price is relatively low, considering the number of planters in the set.
Cons: Since the design of these planters allows plants to suck up water whenever they need it, there is a chance they might end up overwatering themselves. They’re also not a great choice for larger plants since the biggest planter has a 6-inch diameter.
Bottom Line: If you find it challenging to read the water level indicators of many self-watering planters or you want to check the water level at a glance from across the room, you’ll love the design of these unique self-watering planters. The transparent bottoms offer the clearest possible view of a plant.
Lechuza White Matte Self-Watering Planter
A tall self-watering planter that is suitable for larger plants, grasses, and even trees, and is strong enough to withstand the elements outside.
Pros: If you’re looking for a self-watering planter for an extra-tall or large houseplant, you’re in luck. It’s available in three different heights to suit other plants, and the cubic shape and choice of white, black, or brown ensure that it’ll suit a wide variety of decor styles. All three colors have a subtle matte finish. It’s made out of UV- and frost-resistant material, ensuring it will hold up well outside, even under more extreme weather conditions. The drainage plug allows you to remove excess rainwater to ensure your plants don’t rot or become overwatered even when outside. The self-watering system features inorganic granulate compounds that give your plants’ roots the right amount of water at all times. It also comes with a water level indicator, so you’ll always know when the water storage reservoir requires a refill.
Cons: This larger pot is more expensive, as is often the case for bigger and bulkier products. It’s only available as an individual pot, with no paired or pack quantity options.
Bottom Line: You can grow larger, taller flowers, grasses, and even certain types of trees at home. If you want one of those bigger plants for your living space, this tall, sleek, self-watering planter is built for them. It’s tough enough to leave outside 24/7 if you so wish.
Self-watering planters can be an excellent investment for people with busy schedules or those who struggle with plant care. They allow you to ensure your plants receive the proper amount of water they need to thrive, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you forgot to water your plants that day.