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Wicking Material to Self-Watering Planters

Self-watering planters are a relatively new innovation in the area of gardening. These containers have been designed to provide a constant supply of moisture to plants that need regular watering. This makes self-watering planters especially beneficial when you’re hoping to develop thirsty summer plants in containers. Self-watering containers are also helpful when you travel a lot or do not have time to water the garden regularly.


Self-watering planters have two parts: the basket to get soil, along with the reservoir of water under. The reservoir is refilled via a opening in the face of the planter. These two sections of the planter — the basket and reservoir — are connected by means of a wick in the middle of the planter. The wick dips in the soil basket to the reservoir. As long as a constant supply of water is fed to the reservoir, the soil above will likely stay appropriately moist.

Soil as a Wicking Material

Many self-watering planters utilize the soil itself as a wicking material. The soil is included within a tube in the middle of the planter. The tube extends from the base of the ground basket in the planter, into the water reservoir. This tube is designed with holes that enable the soil and water in the reservoir to blend. Water is absorbed to the soil through these holes.

Cloth Wicking Materials

Some self-watering planters have cloth wicks that dip into the reservoir through holes in the planter’s ground basket. These wicks work much the same as soil wicks. Cotton is a widely recommended wicking material, but some warn that natural substances, like cotton, can decay or contract fungus readily. Wicking materials prone to encounter this issue include nylon and acrylic.

Building Your Own

You can build your very own self-watering planter with two containers. The smaller of both of these containers have to be one-half as tall as the bigger one, but the opening of the containers have to be equivalent in diameter, so that if the smaller one is placed into the container that is larger, there’s a space in the underside between the two vessels. To create a soil wick, you will want to cut a huge hole in the base of the inner container, and put a soil basket in the hole. The soil basket might be made from any plastic cup, like a disposable chili cup. The soil basket must have holes drilled in the sides to permit the water and soil to mix. Alternately, if you’re planning to make a fabric wick, you will want to drill holes in the base of the internal container, and dangle the fabric from such holes with knots tied on top of the ropes to prevent them from falling through the hole. Finally, drill a hole in the face of the external container, close to the top of the space between the two containers. This is the overflow hole. Make the hole big enough to acquire the spout of a small watering can inside it so you are able to refill the reservoir.

Benefits of Self-Watering Containers

Normal planters are restricted in how much moisture they can hold, meaning they require constant watering in hot weather. This constant watering can leach nutrients in the ground. Self-watering planters often have big reservoirs that hold more water than traditional planters. This reduces the quantity of time spent watering, and prevents the utilization of nutrients. The type of wicking material used does not typically alter the functionality of the planter itself: soil and fabric are both recommended substances.

Cons of Self-Watering Containers

Self-watering containers are expensive and arguably not necessary for plants that need less water. In addition, these containers are usually made of plastic, a substance known to hold moisture in and protect against soil from draining. Plants that need excellent drainage, like orchids, succulents and cacti, aren’t appropriate for self-watering containers.

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