Self-watering containers offer those of us who are gardening in pots (and may be confined to small space design) a large range of plant possibilities.
Maybe you’re very busy and fear your clay flower pots might dry out due to neglect. Perhaps you’ve been afraid to try growing tomatoes in pots because you know they need a lot of water and you know you just can’t get to it.
These garden planters are your solution. They allow you to grow full sun plants, a lush container herb garden, and bountiful vegetable and tomato crops you’d never be able to water enough.
In fact, you can grow an entire self-watering container garden on your patio, deck, or steps.
These pots are just what their name suggests—you put water into the holding reservoir and it is wicked up into the soil as is needed by your plants’ roots.
Like most things we’ve discussed on this site, there is good news and bad news in these sorts of containers.
You can neglect waterings and your plants will thrive
Because the soil and roots wick up only the needed amount of water, over-watering (and hence, root rot and fungus disease) is generally not an issue.
Many sorts of plants thrive in these outdoor planters, including flowers, herbs, foliage plants, and vegetables
The Bad News
Because water sits in the reservoir, this can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. There are several remedies. One is to run a hose through the planter reservoir adding in fresh water and flushing out the mosquitoes. You can also add a mosquito deterrent, found most easily in aquatic nurseries (see the garden supplies section for great resources).
Once the water reservoir are filled, the entire planter can be quite heavy. If weight is an issue, be sure to site your pots where they will be well-supported. And if you have a difficult time lifting garden planters, be sure to place the pots where you know they will remain prior to filling them.
Most self-watering containers are plastic. There are two main issues to be aware of here: first, purchase a thick-walled, high-grade plastic pot so that it will hold up under harsh sun and other weather conditions. Secondly, no matter what grade of plastic you purchase, it will deteriorate.