Commercial self-watering pots are
appealing to look at but can be expensive too!
you too busy with your life that you have no time to water your
plants? Some of us give up gardening altogether but others who
still want some greeneries at home may have resorted to using
commercial hydroculture kits, self-watering pots or wicking systems
to help us keep our plants hydrated.
Aman, a member from Green Culture Singapore, shares with us how
you can make your very own self-watering pot from very cheap materials
that are easily available.
of the materials given in this article have been derived from
numerous discussions she has participated in various overseas
gesneriad forums. Mona has also improvised various aspects of
this self-watering system to suit her needs.
is a proud owner of hundreds of African violet plants, which are
grown in a bedroom that has been specially converted to grow them.
The self-watering pot is Mona's clever solution that minimises
the labour of having to water each plant, pot by pot.
can use this self-watering pot to grow your Afrian violets or
any other plants at home or to keep them hydrated while you go
on a short holiday.
OF A SELF-WATERING POT
Above: A Florist Gloxinia plant grown using
the self-watering system.
to the picture above, each self-watering pot consists of a reservoir
to house the water or nutrient solution. To supply water to the
plant, water is drawn via capillary action using a wick that has
one end dipped in the reservoir and the other end stuck inside
the potting mixture where the plant is grown in.
time, the roots of the plant may follow the wick and eventually
grow into reservoir of nutrient solution! Stare the picture above
carefully - besides the thick, brown coloured wick, you should
also be able to see some fine roots swimming inside the reservoir!
THAT YOU NEED
on the version of self-watering pot you want to make, you will
need the following:
From left to right - disposable plastic food container, acrylic
string and circular cutter.
that the size of the hole on the lid will determine how deep the
pot will hang into the reservior of water. Ideally, the base of
the plant pot should not be touching the water surface.
left: Two holes that have been cut on the lid of the disposable
Above right: The wick is slipped through one of the holes
on the lid and into the reservior.
You can also use a soldering iron to burn two holes on the lid
of the disposable food container.
of the holes will be a bigger one in which you can point the spout
of your watering can that you can use to refill the reservior.
other hole, which will be a smaller one, is the one where you
pass the wick through.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE WICK MATERIAL
wick is the most important player in the self-watering pot. If
the wrong material is used, the self-watering pot will not be
able to fulfil its role. The wick is responsible for bringing
the water from the reservoir to the root ball.
materials include acrylic strings, which you can buy from a shop
that specialises in fishing gadgets or you can also use stripes
from an old panty hose.
that you need to test:
the wicking material to see if it is able to soak up water to
feed the soil inside a pot.
will also need to determine the thickness of each wick, which
can be done by braiding together several strings or panty hose
you also need to find out the number of wicks you need to keep
the root ball moist. For small pots, one wick may suffice but
for larger ones, two or three may be required.
INSERT THE WICK INTO THE POT
left: Secure one end of the wick to the tip of a screwdriver.
Above right: Push the wick into the root ball of plant
via a drainage hole.
can insert a wick into the root ball of an existing plant by using
a chopstick or a screwdriver. Secure the wick at one end over
the tip of a chopstick/screwdriver and push the wick through the
drainage hole and into the root-ball. The wick should not fall
out and you can test this by giving the wick a gentle tug.
you are repotting a plant into the self-watering system:
the wick through a drainage hole at the base of the pot. Fray
out the end of the acrylic string that is to be in contact with
the soil. If you are using a panty hose, cut and spread out the
panty hose as much as you can. This is to increase the surface
area of contact between the wicking material and the potting mix.
the food container is translucent and hence permeable to light,
algal growth will ensue.
peroxide, available at a concentration of 6%, can be bought from
the local pharmacy. Mix 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide of
this concentration into 1 gallon of water.
people use Physan at the recommended dosage on the product bottle
to prevent algal growth.
non-chemical way is to wrap a sheet of aluminium foil around the
reservoir to shield off light.
POTTING MIX TO USE
you are using this self watering system, make sure the potting
mixture in which your plant is grown in isn't too water retentive
to the extent that the plant is constantly having wet feet. Some
plants like African violets will succumb to crown rot if they
are soaking wet all the time.
the case of growing the African violet, Mona uses 1 part of vermiculite,
1 part of a peat-based African violet growing mix and 1 part of
perlite. She recommends that the perlite component be increased,