There are many methods of making a self-watering planter, but they all work on the same principle. Many are constructed because people can become forgetful and forget to water their vegetables daily.
This could be one reason for building a water planter, but there is also the benefit of knowing your vegetables will only take the water they need, and you won’t get over or underwater them.
What is a Self-Watering Planter?
A self-watering planter mainly consists of a lower water reservoir (which you do need to fill) and an upper area where your plants will grow.
There are numerous ways to build one, and many make use of two containers of the same type that sit inside each other.
The method shown here will make use of any container which is large enough. A 5-gallon bucket is ideal for this DIY self-watering planter.
You might ask, how do self-watering pots work? With the planter, the reservoir is filled, and then there is a wick that sucks water into the upper chamber.
Also, from the top of the planter, you have a filling tube that allows you to top op the water, and for many planters of this type, it might be once or twice per week, depending on the climate.
Are Self Watering Planters Useful?
You might think it is a lot of effort to make a water planter. Still, when you want to start a vegetable garden without much effort, you can see these containers can be placed in many locations and take very little maintenance when growing your vegetables.
Water is fed consistently to your vegetables, so they receive all the moisture and nutrients they require. With this, you can obtain a better yield from your crops.
There are also other benefits: you use less water, leave home for a couple of days with no worry, and some plants hate too much water like tomatoes, so this is the best way to provide them exactly what they need.
Materials You Will Need
- A 5-gallon bucket or similar with no holes
- A large plastic bottle
- A large piece of window screen or fine mesh – large enough to line the bucket and hang over the side
- Potting soil
- Plastic tube taller than the 5-gallon bucket – for the filling tube
- Small-sized pebbles for filling the bottom of the bucket
- Vegetables to grow
Steps for Making Your Planter
Preparing your wick
Take your old plastic bottle and place it in the bucket. Make a mark on the bottle, which is a quarter the height of the bucket.
Next, cut the bottle to this height. Once you have the bottom of the bottle, you can poke holes all around it and through the bottom. This is what allows the water into the wick.
Preparing drain holes and filling pipe
Take the plastic pipe and cut it around 3 or four inches from the top of the bucket. Next, cut the end at a 45-degree angle. This is your filling tube, and the angle prevents it from becoming blocked.
Place your plastic bottle in the bucket at the side—Mark on the bucket just under the height of the bottle.
Next, make two or three holes in the bucket for your drainage holes at this height. This stops water from rising too high in the bucket.
Filling Your Wick
You need to find the center of the screen or mesh, push it into the wick (plastic bottle bottom), and open up the screen.
Fill the mesh inside the bottle with soil and pack quite firmly. Once you have filled the wick, place it in the center of your container.
Place the plastic tube at the side of your self-watering pots with the angled side at the bottom and begin placing your pebbles around your wick and the plastic pipe.
Fill the bucket with pebbles to almost the height of the wick (plastic bottle).
Now open the mesh and push it open against the top of the rocks. This is the barrier that will keep the soil from falling in between your pebbles.
Filling Your Bucket
You are almost finished with your self-watering containers, and you can start filling them with soil. You should begin in the center where the earth in your wick is and work outward. Make sure the mesh doesn’t cover the soil in the wick.
The excess mesh can be pushed to the sides and covered with soil. When you are around 6-inches from the top, you should check the depth of your plant. Here you can continue placing soil until the pot is almost full.
Self-Watering Planter Tips
To make your planter more efficient in water usage, you can cover the top couple of inches in your bucket with mulch (some people cover it in a plastic sheet), and this will help retain moisture in the soil rather than evaporating.
Liquid fertilizer can be added directly into the water when you re-fill. Package instructions should be followed when doing this.
When you are at this stage, there is not much left to do, and you are well on your way to self-watering container gardening.
Because this is the first time you are watering your vegetable plant. You will need to water the top of the pot as well.
Once you have done this, fill your bucket with the filling pipe until water starts flowing from the drainage holes in the bucket. This shows the reservoir is full of water.
Now all you need to do is top up the reservoir with the filling pipe, and the plant will do the rest.
When you have made your first self-watering vegetable pot, you can check out many other designs. Even raised beds can be constructed in this way, although the wick will be very much different.
There are endless ways they can be built, but using the method above, you know all the basics of how they work and how your planter needs to be tended to.